In 2006 when I was going thru my foot problems, my vision started getting a little worse. When I started HBO, it really went downhill. They said that HBO could affect your eyes, but it was only temporary and your eyes would come back to normal after you were done with HBO. Several of the other people in HBO were also having vision problems so I did not really think much about it. Unfortunately, my vision did not return to normal but was much worse.
By the time my foot finally closed up in 2007, I had my fill of medical stuff so put off getting an eye appointment until the spring of 2008. By that time, my vision had really deteriorated and I decided to go back to my old eye doctor near Harrisburg because I trusted him. What he told me really surprised me – I had cataracts.
I remembered reading something in the paperwork I had been given before starting HBO that if you had a problem with your eyes, the HBO could aggravate it. After I got home from the eye doctor, I pulled it out and found out that it was cataracts. HBO won’t cause cataracts, but if you already have them, then they can get worse. One of the symptoms of cataracts is seeing halos around lights. When I was doing HBO, I stayed in a high rise apartment building near the hospital and I remember looking out my window at night and seeing halos everywhere. I later found out that one of the guys that was in HBO that was having vision problems also had cataracts. There was another guy that had finished before I did and came back to visit one day. I asked him if his eyes had gotten better and he said no – he was about at the point they should have. I often wonder if he also had cataracts.
When I made the appointment with my old eye doctor, his office told me that they accepted my insurance. By the time I made the appointment, it was difficult to read and instead of trying to look it up on my insurance’s website, I asked when I called about making an appointment. I found out after I had the appointment that he was not in my insurance’s plan. Unfortunately, his staff did not realize that so now I know, look it up for myself! I had an appointment in Pittsburgh with the doctor that did the surgery on my foot and he gave me the name of an eye doctor in Pittsburgh so I made an appointment with him.
Although I originally saw the eye doctor in Pittsburgh in May, it was August until I had the first eye done. The eye doctor wanted to do my good first. I was hoping he would do the bad one first. Actually, they were both bad but what I call my bad eye was limited to hand motions and my good eye was 20/400. If you are 20/200 that can’t be corrected, you are considered legally blind. The bad eye was also the eye that had the most laser surgery. The doctor said that my vision might improve “a little.” Because of all the laser surgery that I had previously, he was not expecting them to improve much. He wanted to do the good one first because he was afraid if he did the other one first and I did not see any improvement, I would not go thru with the other surgery.
Several people told me that cataract surgery was very easy compared to the laser surgery for retinopathy, but I was terrified! I was using Levemir and Apidra when I had the cataracts done and of course, you are not allowed to eat anything. I had my surgery scheduled for a little later in the morning because of having to travel to Pittsburgh. Because I had done basal testing, I knew my Levemir was set correctly and I did not need to cut back on that. Between DP & stress, my blood sugar was still going up that morning and I had some Apidra also. The nurses freaked when they found out that I had taken insulin until they checked and my BS was in the 140s.
I had the cataract surgery done at a surgery center. I had been told to wear a button down shirt. They actually allowed you to leave all your clothes on, including shoes. That was the first time I ever had that happen. I had been putting drops in my eyes for two weeks prior to the surgery and they put a ton of drops in my eyes that morning. I forget exactly how long the surgery itself took but was only about 10-15 minutes. The doctor talked to me some as he was doing the surgery. I was very surprised when he was done – I literally did not feel a thing.
After the surgery was done, they brought me something to drink and checked my blood sugar. They had more eye drops, sun glasses and another prescription for me and I was sent home. I had an appointment the following day with the eye doctor and another follow-up in two weeks.
My sister had driven me to Pittsburgh for the surgery. Coming out of Pittsburgh, I was excited because I could actually read the lettering on the license plates in front of us. I think I was driving my sister nuts reading everything. Once I got home, it was amazing all the things that I could see again. I watch CNN a lot and was now able to see the information scrolling across the bottom of the screen. I was in my living room and could see the time on a clock in my dining room. I could look out my living room window and read the lettering on the building across the street. Although not everything was good – I try to keep things cleaned and saw lots of things I missed! There was a vent at the top of my stairs and I could not believe how dusty that was. Good thing it was time to start fall cleaning!
When I saw the eye doctor the next day, he was very pleased how much my eye had improved and hoped that we would have the same luck with the other eye. I had my second eye done the beginning of that September. By February, I was starting to get a film over the lens the doctor removed that with laser – it was a much simpler laser than the laser surgery for retinopathy.
My vision is now 20/40 and 20/50 so that is a huge improvement over what it was. After everything settled after the cataract surgery, my eye doctor had me see the optometrist with his group for an eye glass check. Although he gave me a prescription for glasses, he said that if I wanted to, I could try the OTC reading glasses. That is what I had been using so decided to just continue using those. That way, I can keep glasses in different places that I might need them.
I know that if you are having cataract surgery, my telling you that it really is a piece of cake won’t help – I was told that and I was still terrified. It really is though. Once you get thru that first one, the second one will be a lot easier because you will know what to expect and will know it really is easy.