Who knew that when we installed all sorts of grab bars and railings in our house — intended to help our elder parents — they would be useful to me years before retirement?
I am using these accommodations all the time just now because I have a cataract, and those relative small but important changes in our house are coming in handy.
My cataract is not caused by aging. In the spring of 2012, about seven months ago, a detached retina required immediate surgery. I wrote about my experiences to provide clear and objective reports about the process of retinal surgery and my recovery.
My surgeon performed a vitrectomy, successfully correcting the problem and maintaining my vision, but he warned me ahead of time that a side-effect of the surgery is the development of a cataract. I say side-effect rather than complication because almost everyone who gets this type of surgery develops a cataract. Sure enough, about three months after my surgery I began to develop one.
People of our parents’ ages know all about age-related cataracts because, in general, aging eyes develop them. Ophthalmologists perform the corrective surgery — removing the offending cataract and inserting a new lens — one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States. We adult children know about cataracts — in the abstract — because most of our elder parents have undergone the relatively short surgical procedure.
As sympathetic as I was about my parents’ cataracts, I had no idea just how disabling they can be in everyday life. In the beginning it was a minor irritation. Later I began to notice that my eye is really fogging up — not much of a problem during the day, but terribly bothersome at night when lights and darkness mix, when I am trying to read, and when I am trying to speed around the house accomplishing everyday tasks. I feel like I might fall if I am not careful.
So for the time being I do not drive at night, and readers of this blog may have observed that I am writing, for the time being, fewer posts. I am definitely reading a lot less than I usually do (recorded books are a great alternative), and I use those handrails and grab bars to avoid falls that might occur due to depth perception distortions that occur because one eye sees differently from the other.
Read Making Our House Safer for Aging Parents and Ourselves, my post, describing with pictures, the changes that made our home safer for everyone.
Two weeks from now my eye surgeon will correct the problem. I cannot wait.
Check out these two resources to learn more about cataracts:
- MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine) slideshow about cataract surgery.
- NIH Senior Health video about cataract surgery.
My Detached Retina Posts – Objective Observations and Not a Substitute for Talking to a Physician
- Detached Retina: An Aging Eye Affliction, Part I
- Detached Retina: My Aging Eye, Part II
- Detached Retina: My Aging Eye, Part III
- Detached Retina: My Aging Eye, Part IV
- Learning About Retinas: Aging Parents and Adult Children
- Understanding Eyes As We Age
- After Retina Surgery: Choosing and Using Protective Sunglasses
- And There Was Sight! A Coda for Retina and Cataract Issues
- Retina Problems: Not Over Yet