Last updated: 26 June 2007

Subject:	Cataract Surgery
Sent:	Tuesday, December 12, 2006 21:47:23
From:	Steve (
This subject is a little off the usual for your web site, but it is so
important for any older person doing visual astronomy, that I thought I
would share my experience.  Cataracts are a clouding of the eye's lens
as one ages, although not everyone will develop cataracts as they get
older.  The main effect is loss of visual acuity with colors becoming
yellowed and unsaturated.  In my case, I  am 63 years old and had been
developing cataracts for at least 5 years.  They finally got so bad that
my ability to drive at night and to read my computer screen at work was
being severely degraded.  The main symptoms I experienced were bright
glare surrounding bright lights.  Bright stars seen through my telescope
appeared enveloped in a hazy nebula..  Even at a relatively dark sky
site, my best naked eye vision was about 4th magnitude.  My right eye
was so bad that car headlights produced a bright ring split into a
spectrum of colors.  The full moon appeared as multiple overlapping

Yesterday I had the cataract in my right eye removed and replaced with
an artificial lens, and today the bandages were removed.  The left eye
will be done next month.  Let me briefly tell you about the procedure
and the results.  There were several preliminary appointments with my
eye surgeon and her staff.  After the original consultation, I had
appointments to measure my visual field and measure my eye for the new
lens.  I also had a complete physical and of course a final pre-op
appointment.   The actual surgery took about 30 minutes, with about the
same time for post-op recovery, and was completely painless.  The degree
of discomfort is much less than having your teeth cleaned, for example,
and I would add that the risk of complications is extremely small. 
Basically,  anesthetic eye drops numb the eye, and then ultrasound is
used to break up the old lens. A very small incision is made beside the
iris and the old lens is sucked out through a pipette.  The artificial
lens is then inserted folded over into the capsule that surrounded the
old lens and unfolds therein.  The artificial lens looks something like
a spiral galaxy with two thin spiral arms coming off the lens on either
side. The spiral arms spread out and center the lens in the capsule.  I
was awake and could see through my eye during the whole procedure.  What
I say looked something like a TV screen that is not tuned to any

The results are spectacular!!!   I can now read street signs before I
run into them and the nighttime headlight glare is completely gone.  But
the main effect that I experience is renewed vibrancy of color. The
effect is so overwhelming that it is difficult to adequately describe. 
It is like the difference between a faded 50 year old color photo, and
one that was just taken today.  If you think you might be experiencing
any of the symptoms I experienced,  have your eyes checked. There is no
reason to wait.  As for me, I am very anxiously awaiting clear skies and
dark nights.

Subject:	Cataract surgery [NEW!]
Sent:	Saturday, June 23, 2007 15:03:39
From:	Steve (
Here is my follow up report on the results of the cataract surgery I had
last December and January.

First, my distance vision and color perception are now excellent.  The
improvement in color perception is quite dramatic.  My uncorrected
vision is about 20-30. It was about 20-50 or worse before surgery.   It
would be better now, except that I am left with some astigmatism  The
cylinder value for my astigmatism is 1.5 which I believe is worse than
before the surgery.  Apparently, I may experience some further change
over the next year or so.  I had my doctor optimize my new lenses for
distance vision, and although I do not use glasses for distance, I do
need them for reading and work.  I also still wear glasses for looking
at the night sky, because without them stars appear as short dashes
rather than pin points of light.  I tried continuing to wear glasses for
use with telescopes, and while my ability to see things through the
scope was much improved both with and without glasses, I found that
glasses were more of a nuisance than a help.  With eyepieces that have
smaller pupil diameters, the astigmatism is not that much of a problem.

As to actual observation, I can report that my wife and I last weekend
went camping at Lake Sonoma, a dark sky site in northern California.  I
had two new pieces of equipment to try out.  A Televue dioptrix and a
Williams 110mm doublet that my firm gave me the day before as a 20 years
of service award.  The night of our arrival I mounted the scope on my
LXD75. I must have done everything right, because the mount was dead on
with in goto mode all night long. The seeing, transparency, and darkness
was the best I have ever encountered.  The 110 mm doublet is a great
little scope for the money and a perfect match for the LXD 75.  In
combination with the dioptrix, this was the first time in the three or
four years I have been doing astronomy that I have seen pinpoint star
images.  Naked eye, I was able to see stars down to about magnitude 5.5.
 Unfortunately, I did not think to make a magnitude estimate through the
scope.  However, I do remember that I could see enough of  M6, the
Butterfly Cluster, to clearly discern the butterfly shape, and M27, the
Dumbbell nebular, at Mag 8 was surprisingly bright. In short, it was one
of my best experiences ever with astronomy.  The next night however, was
a mess.  I mounted my 8 inch SCT on the LXD75, only to have it grind its
way around the sky and never get anything in the fov.  The wind came up,
and the stars might as well have been at the bottom of a swimming pool. 
The Milky Way was still pretty awesome, so I spent a couple of hours in
a lawn chair with binoculars then slipped into the tent.

In summary, I am very much pleased with the results of the surgery.  I
have had a few emails from other individuals who have had cataract
surgery, and although several reported minor problems, they seen
universally happy with the results.

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