Moonshadow: Things Won’t Always Be Clearer in the Morning

Rose coloured glasses. I need to find some new ones because mine have been crushed.

I haven’t been seeing well for the last year or so. After eye surgery last August, my left eye was so blurry that no amount of glasses correction or magnifying glass could help me see out of it. I was scheduled for another surgery – cataract surgery, which is a much easier one to replace the lens that had been damaged by the first surgery. I had this a few days ago.

This is why I haven’t posted much these past few months. Working at a computer tires out my eyesight – reading a book is out of the question. My right eye has had to work twice as hard. Riding my bike or walking on uneven ground was tricky as my depth perception was off. (I always find it hilarious when I go to grab something but my hand “misses” and I find only air. It’s so bizarre – like some kind of magic trick.)

Disappointed Hopes

Everyone told me that the cataract surgery would be a breeze and I’d be so happy once I had it done. The woman in the waiting room with me had had her first eye done and told me she’d gotten 20/20 vision and was able to throw away her glasses for the first time in 50 years! This was amazing and reassuring news.

I went in with high hopes. The surgery itself is kind of cool – like a personal light show, complete with exploding snowflakes. I even paid extra for special measurements and the best lens I could get for my eye.

What I had not planned on…what I had not realized at all, was what I saw when I came out of surgery. I can clearly see the damage from the macular hole repair.

The Way I See It

My eyesight will never be the same. I have lost the sight from the middle of my left eye.

When I look directly at someone’s face, I see only a distorted blur where their features should be. It is really disturbing when I look at my own face in the bathroom mirror.

The Way I See It

I’ve also decided that tile floors are my new worst house feature. Every time I look at them, I am reminded of my disturbed vision.

Now I know that “there are no straight lines in nature.” I find this comforting. I’m thinking that I’ll replace my floors with linoleum one day. With a marble-like pattern.

Here is a close approximation of what any and all straight lines look like to me now. From the line of my computer monitor or TV, bookshelves, fireplace bricks, to my kitchen floors. Test both your eyes. If you see any waves on the image in the right, get your butt to the optometrist:

End of the Line

I don’t know how my work will be affected. Will my right eye be able to compensate for the waves of distortion when it is “repaired” in the next few weeks? The middle of words disappear into a wavy blur but the shapes of the words help me to decipher them – numbers are far trickier. I’m so grateful that I am working only three days per week. Yesterday from home I had to help a coworker find several photos on my computer. It only took me 40 minutes but my eye was sore the rest of the day from staring so hard at the thumbnails, trying to see who was in each photo. My fine editing days are over. I cannot even see periods and commas.

I was kind of “over it” anyway. Now I have an excuse not to do anyone’s resume. Haha. This reminds me of Cat Stevens’ “Moonshadow.”

The Shape Of Things

I don’t know. In fact, no one seems to know much at all except how to perform the various surgeries. Another anomalous thing is that the pupil in that eye does not respond to light very well. It stayed large for months after my first surgery. None of the three ophthalmologists I’ve seen could explain it. Now it is staying too small and not adapting to lower light levels by opening up.

I did some research and found a paper from 2009 that explained the phenomenon as “tonic pupil”. Apparently, not many eye specialists see it because by the time you get in to their office, the other staff have artificially dilated your eyes with atropine. The researchers did not know the cause but speculated that it could be the result of nerve damage to the pupil from the lasers used in surgery.

The Miracle Surgery

In my case, during surgery the ophthalmologist was forced to use laser to repair a tear that occurred when he pulled the vitreous off my macula. Even in my daze I felt the burn of that laser. Usually they don’t need to do this.

This tear meant that the surgeon had to use the slower absorbing gas to fill my eye. This was what caused me to have to be face down for an additional few days. (Read about my macular surgery In the Shadow of the Mountain)

To give you some idea of how delicate this whole thing is, the lining they are tugging on is 1 to 2 microns thick. A human hair is 50 to 100 microns. It’s a miracle I can see anything at all. For this, I am grateful.

This one extra problem has had several repercussions, however.

If My Colours All Run Dry

Another disturbing result of my surgery? I have lost some colour sight in my left eye. I see a cold world without much soft yellow. It’s like my world is being lit by one of those harsh new LED lightbulbs instead of natural sunlight. For some reason, I find this devastating.

This was something else not told to me. Not that it would have mattered. My sight was ruined the minute my eye vitreous stuck to my macula and pulled a hole in it. A hole so beautiful, it looked like the most intricate red and purple mandala.

I thought this new thing I have to contend with was the result of the type of lens I chose but I’ve been researching. According to this NIH article, a change of colour along the blue / yellow axis is common after macular hole surgery. So common, in fact, that many times a patient is fitted with a yellow lens after surgery. I was not given that option. Apparently this “cyanopsia” is common after cataract surgery as well so I’m hopeful it will go away on its own.

I know I’m lucky

I keep reminding myself that if this happened only a few years ago I’d be blind in that eye. They have only been repairing holes in the eye since 1991 – that’s not that long ago! I’m hoping that when the other eye is done that I’ll get my depth perception back and my other eye, which is my dominant one, will take over once again.

I used to see the world with rose coloured glasses:  Everything would work out. Things would get better. It’s not so bad. It will be all right in the end. Has anyone ever been as willfully “blind” as I was?

I see things very differently now. It’s the contrast that enables us to discern the light at all. We all have our dark sides and we must accept it – even learn to embrace them. Without the “moonshadow”, would we know the joy of sunlight?

Might As Well Be Walking on the Sun

I choose to see it all: the dark and the light. But yeah. I’ll probably end up putting my rose coloured glasses on when I can’t take one more day of reality.


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