I’ve been legally blind all my life from a condition called retinopathy of prematurity. This condition is i itself not degenerative, but it often leads to retinal detachment due to scar tissue pulling on the retina. In addition, cataracts and glaucoma may develop. In 1993, I developed a cataract on my right (worse) eye. The cataract specialist felt it would be useless to operate on, so my own retina specialist removed the lens, but didn’t implant an artifical lens because I was either too young or she didn’t have the ability to perform this procedure. In around 1998, I lost what little vsion I had retained in that eye due to a retinal detachment.
In 2003 or 2004, I developed a cataract on my left eye. I went to an eye doctor for somethigng different (suspected glaucoma, which was then ruled out) in March of 2004. While we were there anway, my father asked the doctor whether cataract surgery would make any sense. The doctor was vague, saying if I thought I would regain some sight he might be willing to put me on the list, but he wouldn’t recommend it really. I was raised with the idea that I had to accept blindness and, from my last surgery in 1994 on, my parents treated me like I had no useable vision, so I decided I shouldn’t pursue surgery.
But the thought ate at me: what if surgery could restore some of my sight? In 2011 or 2012, I started discussing this with the nurses at my former institution, and they advised me to seek out a medical opinion. Earlier this year, I took up the courage and asked my GP to refer me to an eye doctor at the city’s university medical center. When there, the doctor proposed an ultrasound to look at the condition of my retina and optic nerve. He also requested my records from the hospital I’d been going to in the 1990s. Then he sent me on to the cataract specialist.
The cataract specialist said there was really no way of knowing what the actual functional outcome would be. Like, I had no retinal detachment on my left eye and my optic nerve was fine, but that didn’t mean I’d actually gain any sight back per se. I read up on some research and found that structural condition of the retina really does not say everything about visual function. The cataract specialist was willing to put me on the list for surgery, and I came in hoping to get surgery, so I consented to this. There is some risk that I’ll get bleeding or a retinal detachment due to surgery, but given that I only have a minimal bit of light perception now (being able to discern daylight from night time but not much else), I’m willing to risk this.
Surgery is next Monday. I’m kind of nervous. I guess I’d feel guilty if there were no improvement. Then again, I’d at least know that this was the last thing I could do for my sight then. I feel if there’s going to be no improement and I remain totally blind, I will be able to close this chapter sort of. The doctor had some hope that I would regain hand motion vision, which I had in the 1990s, but I am more pessimistic. If I will be able to see colors and very large objects, that would be absolutely great.