My annual visit to the ophthalmologist was today, three months after his colleague had done cataract surgery on my right eye.
The surgery has had its upside (I’m not wearing glasses most of the time) and its downside (the glasses I wear for computer use don’t focus very well). I wanted to ask Dr. O., why? Were the glasses fitted improperly? Was there a problem with the surgery?
Dr. O. checked my glasses, then checked my vision reading the eye chart. After the surgery, my right eye is close to 20/20 for distance, while my left eye is still myopic, but I can read with it at about an eight-inch distance. Wearing the glasses got me to 20/20 with each eye, but, I explained to Dr. O., when I looked at the chart with both eyes, I saw two images and had to move my head around to just one spot to focus properly.
He gave me an explanation about diopters, which made no sense to me, and when I asked him to explain, at first he said, you don’t need to know that. What I needed to know, he said, was the before the surgery, each of my eyes had a different diopter, and the difference was quite great. Now the difference was less, so it was supposed to be better.
But it wasn’t.
I pressed Dr. O. to explain more thoroughly, and he came up with an explanation that I now understood. The diopter measurement refers to where each eye focuses, and in theory it determines what your correction should be to focus properly. When I wore contact lenses (for 40 years), the contact lenses fixed the focus problem, I think because the lens fits right onto the lens of my eye. When I could no longer wear the contacts because my eyes were too dry, I didn’t notice the focus problem because, apparently, my brain was accommodating by relying only on my left eye because of the cataract in the right. Now that the cataract was gone, what hadn’t been perceived by my brain as a problem had become apparent as a problem.So a problem I hadn’t been aware of – the cataract – became a problem I was aware of after fixing the problem I wasn’t aware of. At least I don’t have to wear glasses all the time, a net gain, as far as I’m concerned. Ain’t science grand?