I UNDERWENT surgery six days ago to remove a cataract in my right eye. The cataract was discovered during a routine eye examination two years ago.
I ignored it because it was not a hindrance - until I started seeing triple images in the middle of last year.
My optometrist said it was no use trying to correct my increased astigmatism, which was caused by the cataract as tests had ruled out corneal astigmatism. He asked me to consider surgery.
Since my children were sitting for important examinations last year, I decided to delay the surgery unti after Christmas. While waiting, I learnt all I could about cataract, even about how the lens should be inserted into the eye during surgery for best results.
Cataract is the clumping of proteins of the lens, turning it opaque and yellow as we age.
The most popular treatment is surgery -- the faulty lens is removed and an artificial, biologically inert lens is put in its place. Over the past 15 years, I read on a lens manufacturer's website, 30 million eyes have been implanted with such intraoccular lenses.
Since clumping of the proteins causes cataracts, I thought there must be research done on the reversal of the process. As I Googled for scholastic papers on the subject, I found a research done by a Russian scientist and wrote to him. He had perfected the method of introducing a chemical via eye drops that he claimed successfully reversed cataracts in people of various ages in human tests.
Hopeful, I asked a friend's brother to purchase the eye drops for me. I became my own guinea pig, just to see if it worked. My decision was partly inspired by the scientist who replied to my email and explained how it worked. I figured if it worked, the results would be apparent in six months and I would not need surgery. Unfortunately, in my case, it did not.
Finally, when everyone else was celebrating Christmas and New Year, I was feeling anything but happy. I went to see the eye surgeon, fixed an appointment, and scheduled the day for surgery.
On the day of surgery, I got up early, said my prayers and headed for the hospital. A nurse asked me if I was scared. I told her I was not. But I was a little worried, I said, after having read so much about surgery and complications. Afraid? No. In fact, barely an hour before I was wheeled into the operation theatre at 1pm, I even helped troubleshoot a faulty laptop computer belonging to a hospital staff member.
Although general anaesthesia was available for the surgery, I did not ask for it. I was curious and wanted to see what was happening. I did not see much except for two bright lights as the good doctor started working on the eye. My other eye was kept under drape. All I saw were flashes of light as some kind of solution was used to irrigate the eye that was being operated on.
It was over in 10 minutes or less. That was all it took the surgeon to make a 2mm diameter cut on the cornea, insert a tool to break down and suck out the cataract, and clean the lens sac before replacing it with a foldable 6mm diameter lens. When it was over, I was given an eye shell to protect the eye and wheeled into the recovery room.
As the nurses wheeled me from the recovery room into the day care ward, I peeped out from the side of the shell and saw my wife waiting there. Sleepless nights and worry had drawn dark circles around her eyes.
All went well, I said. She broke into a smile. It was the prettiest sight I had seen through the new lens.
And I knew then why I was not afraid when the surgeon took the cataract out.