The Wonders of Cataract Surgery

In recent weeks I have experienced the wonders of cataract surgery extended to correct myopia. Like so many I know, several dates with the ophthalmologist, two remarkably short visits for surgery at the highly efficient Kensington Eye Institute,  a rigorous regime of multiple eye drops every day, and voilà: almost instantly, I can drive without glasses.

It is amazing what I now see. Street signs appear as if in large font primary print. Left-hand turn prohibitions are now legible. I now notice how the traffic is proceeding (or not), three or four street lights ahead. I can drive down Don Mills Road which is unfamiliar to me and still scan the signs of all the passing plazas looking for the one remaining Tilley store in Toronto. My command of the road and navigating the passing environment has never been better. It’s clearly time to get my driver’s license, which requires that I wear glasses, changed.

Apart from the luminosity of what I see, the detail I now notice makes me realize how much I missed before. I never appreciated, for example, that there were old-fashioned triple street lights lining the sidewalks along Bay Street beside the Manulife Building. Or that many downtown buildings have elaborate murals at the skyline. Or that the wooden fretwork on the chancel at Trinity-St. Paul’s Jeanne Lamon Hall is as elaborate as it is. Or that the fur on the tail of my black cat has a textured pattern that I didn’t know existed.

Of course, there is a downside to this new-found visual acuity. I now see cobwebs on the ceilings, plaster which needs repair, paint to be redone, and many other defects of an old house which I blissfully avoided up until now. Clearly, replacing my eyes will entail new costs for home repairs.

Having the eye surgery has been a learning experience. With one eye fixed, and the other not, I took one lens out of my glasses (the first one I’d had surgery on) and assumed that using the glasses with the other, I could read and work on the computer. Alas, that was not the case. With one eye corrected and the other not, I could read if I held whatever I was reading up close, but the distortion between the eyes made working on the computer very difficult.

Now that both eyes are fixed to improve my distance vision, I must adjust to the need for reading glasses. Before I wore glasses all the time and never thought twice about it. Now, reading labels in the grocery store, the program at the theatre, menus in a restaurant, and even the Globe and Mail is impossible without reading glasses. No big deal, you say. Everyone needs reading glasses once they hit forty. Maybe.

But there are strategies to consider. Some people carry their reading glasses on a cord around their neck. My husband, who had this surgery a couple of years ago, has at least a dozen pairs of reading glasses he bought cheaply at the local pharmacy. But he is always looking for them, never seems to have them when and where he wants them, and they are always breaking.

I’ve decided that it will work best for me if I invest in a couple of decent pairs of better fitting generic reading glasses which I can leave permanently located beside the computer and another in the kitchen where I typically read the newspaper. A friend also advised me to wait until the second eye is totally healed and then invest in a good pair of reading glasses which are bifocals (with plain glass on top) to carry around with me in my purse. I have also learned that, with an optometrist’s prescription, my favourite optical shop on College Street can likely fit bifocal lenses into one or more of my old glasses frames, and that the frame of my old prescription sunglasses could be recycled for reading glasses.

Cataract surgery (and the related opportunity to correct other vision defects at the same time) is one of the miracles of modern medicine. Commonplace, but oh so effective in improving our quality of life and public safety.




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  1. Marion Lane

    Norman McDougall wrote on my Facebook page that he had a similar experience and that when he renewed his licence, he was able to retake the vision test and have the eyeglasses restriction removed. I’ve since learned that there is a provincial government form called “Vision Report to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles” which can by filled in by an optometrist and used to obtain a new license without the restriction before the usual renewal. My optometrist said he would see me five weeks after my last surgery.

  2. Malcolm M

    Hey Marion. Glad to hear that this was such a terrific success. When you see the west coast with your new eyes, you may not want to leave at all…

  3. 17larry

    I had both eyes done in 2010 – 100% success and the same results you have. I had worn glasses since I was 6 yrs old for extreme myopia. Now I need reading glasses to see up close though 🙂

  4. Steven H

    Marion, I agree with Malcolm. Because I moved to Lantzville not long after my second operation, I was able to get the vision restriction removed from my driver’s licence when I surrendered my Yukon licence and it is a pleasure to no longer having to put my heavy frames on while driving, This is particularly the case when I look at the sunshine coast from Lantzville.

  5. Rafael M.

    Honestly and no discredit upon the professionals, it is like going for a manicure. The procedure takes short time, the response is quick,and the recovery and convalescence are none.
    Great for you Marion

  6. Jeffrey H.

    I had the same procedure done some years ago and want to express my agreement with you — the improvement is little short of astonishing, and the procedure itself is so easy! Years ago they made people stay in bed afterwards for days. Now it’s only 20 minutes and you’re ready to motor.


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