Last updated: 26 June 2007
Subject: Cataract Surgery Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2006 21:47:23 From: Steve (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 images. 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 station. 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 Sent: Saturday, June 23, 2007 15:03:39 From: Steve (email@example.com) 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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