Archives for January 2023

I spy, with my altered eye

Yesterday I had the cataract removed from my left eye. The whole experience reminded me of the complaint by Paul’s grandfather in A Hard Day’s Night: ‘So far all I’ve seen is a train and a room and a car and a room and a room and a room.’ Leave out the train and the car, and that was the central part of my day. There is a waiting room where you wait, and a waiting room where you stow your belongings and put on a hairnet and disposable bootees, and a waiting room where they put 105 different drops in your eye to numb it and dilate it and freeze it and make it dance the cha-cha, and then there is the O.R., where you are in and out in the time it takes to play four songs off Mika’s debut album.

That, mind you, includes the extra time Dr. Crichton required to get my artificial lens (which is custom-made, and corrects for my astigmatism) installed at the correct angle. Even with the various drops and anaesthetics, I had an uncomfortable feeling that he was crushing my eyeball while he worked the lens round with his instruments. ‘Now I know,’ I said drily, ‘how an olive feels when you stuff in the pimiento.’ It appears that I have an abnormally large eye, and that, counterintuitively, makes it harder to get the lens in the right position and angle.

But the whole thing was done, and I took a ruinously expensive taxi home and slept it off.

Today I had the 24-hour followup. They removed the plastic shield from my eye, and the gauze underneath it, and lo! I could see better with that eye than at any time since I was fourteen. My vision is 20/20, messieurs et dames – at a distance – for close vision I shall need reading glasses for ever more, but I’ll take that over cataracts any day. Dr. Crichton then briefly examined me, checked that I was following the multitude of post-op orders, and I took another ruinous taxi home.

I have now bought a pair of non-prescription sunglasses for a buck and a quarter, which work very well, and a pair of non-prescription reading glasses for the same price, which hardly work at all because they won’t sit still on my nose, but keep going slaunchwise. As I type this, I am wearing my old (prescription) reading glasses, and my right eye is doing all the work. With my left eye, the screen is a hopeless white blur; which tells you how strong my prescription was.

And that is about as much close work as I can do without fatiguing my half-corrected eyes, so my nefarious scheme to resume the writing business at the old stand will have to wait a little longer. Somewhere, no doubt, Snidely Whiplash is twirling his moustache and cursing.


I made my last post with the best (or worst) intentions of returning to reasonably regular blogging. Then, as P. G. Wodehouse used to say, Judgement Day set in with unusual severity.

To begin with, I caught a fairly impressive case of the Official Plague, which is to say, the then fashionable strain of COVID. This kept both my Beloved Bride and me housebound and decrepit for the best part of a month, followed by a long, slow recovery in which neither of us was able to do anything much. My short-term memory was particularly hard hit. Many a time I found myself upstairs in the bedroom, having fetched up exactly one of the three things I was supposed to bring, and then trudging back down to get the other two. And sometimes it took a mighty effort to recall them both when I got there.

Sometimes, in this condition, I tried stringing four words together. The result would have been amusing, I think, if I had posted it here, but the joke would soon have grown stale.

This took me through October and November. Meanwhile, the cataracts have been growing.

Last spring, my optometrist gave me my regular eye test and fitted me out with new glasses. After a few weeks, I noticed blurry vision in my left eye, and supposed he had got the prescription wrong – or that my eye injury had been a little more severe than first thought. (I took the jagged end of a broken tree branch in the left eye. By luck or providence I blinked at just the right moment, and ended up with nothing worse than a bruised sclera.)

It turned out that I was developing a cataract in that eye, and it was now advanced enough to prevent my lens from ever quite focusing light correctly. No amount of fiddling with my prescription could correct this. If I looked at single points of light with that eye, they resolved themselves into bright, blurry rings. (Our Christmas tree this year is decorated with glowing O’s – but only to me.) He recommended that I follow up with the specialist who looks after my glaucoma from time to time.

The said specialist peered into my left eye and said, ‘Yup, you’ve got a cataract.’ He then checked my right eye. ‘And one starting in this one,’ he added. As luck would have it, his practice specializes in both glaucoma and cataracts, and he got straight down to business and booked me for surgeries. My eye specialist is not one for chit-chat; he runs a volume business and sees each patient, if possible, for just a minute or two. That day, when I saw him, there were upwards of forty thousand people in his waiting room – at least, I saw that many. Likely my eyes were exaggerating. I only saw one of him, but that doesn’t prove anything; he was sitting right in my face, looming, as he peered into my eyes through his fiendish apparatus, and there was not room enough in my visual field to see two of him.

So I have been nursing my cataracts along, cutting down on driving (though I am still legal for now) and close work (which gives me eyestrain after a few minutes). My left eye is due to have its dicky lens replaced on the 11th, and the other on the first of February. Then we shall see; that is, we shall see if we shall see.

Happy New Year to my 3.6 Loyal Readers, and I hope to be able to post more after the operations. For the first time in years, I am beginning to feel as if I have something interesting to say.

And then, of course, people come up with helpful things like this to vex me with: