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Senior moments: Cataract eye surgery can be life-changing
Rich DeLong

I have a very important eye doctor appointment tomorrow. About a year ago I had cataract surgery on my left eye. I had a cataract removed from my right eye several years ago, so I was very familiar with the whole surgery process.

I have to say that this type of surgery can be life-changing. I have had poor vision just about my entire life. I was in the second grade when I discovered I had a vision problem. I could not read what my teacher was writing on the chalkboard and it was clearly affecting my grades, as well as my demeanor.

I started wearing glasses that same year, and from that point forward I have always worn some form of corrective eyewear to improve my vision. Cataract surgery fortunately changed all that.

A cataract is a clouding of the human lens in the eye that affects vision. The human lens is a clear part of the eye that helps to focus light, or an image, on the retina. It works much like a camera lens.

It focuses light onto the retina at the back of the eye, where an image is recorded. The lens must be clear for the retina to receive a sharp image. If the lens is cloudy from a cataract, the image you see will be blurred.

Although my cataracts were most-likely due to overexposure to sunlight and a short-lived boxing career, most cataracts are related to aging. Cataracts are very common in older people. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. A cataract can occur in either or both eyes.

The surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. And thanks to recent advancements in lens implant technology and surgical techniques, cataract surgery has become one of the safest, most successful — and most common — surgical procedures performed today.

Each year more than 1 million seniors have their vision restored through cataract removal and lens implantation.

The most common complication of cataract surgery is clouding of the part of the lens covering that remains after surgery, called posterior capsule opacification. This cloudiness can occur after several months or even years later.

If the cloudiness affects your vision, you may choose to have a laser surgery called YAG laser posterior capsulotomy to correct this problem. The procedure takes only minutes and there is absolutely no pain.

After this type of laser surgery one may experience short term increased pressure inside the eye. Typically your doctor will prescribe a steroid in the form of eye drops to lower the eye pressure.

Last week I had the YAG laser procedure performed on my left eye, and tomorrow I will have my eye pressure and vision checked to be sure I am healing appropriately. My vision is better than I can ever remember and I feel more confident driving at night. Not only has my vision been restored, but so has my independence. Isn’t that what we are all striving for?

I learned from my doctor that many people who experience cloudy vision after cataract surgery are unaware of the YAG laser procedure. If you have had a cataract removed and are now experiencing cloudy vision, make an appointment to see your doctor to see if this laser surgery could help you have clear vision once again.

Seeing is believing, my friends!

Rich DeLong, formerly of Richmond Hill, is the executive director for The Villas & The Grand of Seagrass Village in Florida. Reach him at

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