Guest blog by Mike Briley
Awesome! That word is thrown around far too casually these days. But it describes perfectly the results of my cataract surgery performed recently by Dr. Lee Wan, Coastal Eye’s Medical Director. Full disclosure: For the last 23 years, I have worked with Dr. Wan and with my wife, Michele, in producing the InSight newsletter for Coastal Eye.
Interviewing many of Dr. Wan’s cataract surgery patients over the years, I’ve heard a lot about the joys of being able to see clearly again. From my recent personal experience, it’s all true, and then some. My world is now brighter, clearer, more colorful and more enjoyable.
As with most people, my cataracts developed gradually. I wore glasses for reading and computer and had glasses for driving, although I didn’t wear them much. Over the years, I got along pretty well with updates of my prescription. I passed my last driver’s test without glasses. As recently as a year ago, I could say the cataracts weren’t interfering that much with my daily activities.
About six months ago, however, the cataracts seemed to be progressing at a faster rate. Vision was getting hazier. I found myself squinting at the computer screen. Reading for long periods was visually fatiguing. Seeing freeway signs at a distance became harder. I found myself unable to read the box scores in televised football games without getting up from my chair. It was time. When Dr. Wan examined me, he agreed. Given my degree of astigmatism, he recommended one of two possible options: the toric lens implant, a single focus lens that corrects astigmatism, or the TruLign, an accommodating lens implant that corrects astigmatism as well as presbyopia, the blurring up close that affects everyone after about age 40.
Next step was a pre-op appointment with Coastal Eye Surgery Coordinator Anne Miller, COA, who performed testing and measurements of the eye. I told her my wish list: clear distance vision to be able to drive without glasses. I wouldn’t mind wearing glasses for the computer and for reading. But I hoped to be glasses-free as much as possible for barbecuing, grocery shopping, gardening and other chores within arm’s length. Ms. Miller explained the options clearly, provided additional information and pre-op instructions and patiently answered all my numerous questions. I chose the toric lens implants, with the right eye’s focus set for distance, and the left with some nearsightedness, a solution called “modified monovision.”
The day of surgery at the Channel Islands Surgicenter for cataract surgery on my right eye, I was ushered into the pre-op area, where the nurses prepped me for surgery. Dr. Wan visited, chatted a bit, administered some eyedrops, and marked my eye for surgery. Then I was wheeled into the operating room where a sedative was administered through an IV. I was completely relaxed but aware on some level of what was going on around me. I remember seeing a “light show” inside my eye during surgery and recall Dr. Wan telling me as he was putting in the lens implant. It seemed like no time at all (actually about ten minutes) before I was beginning to awaken from sedation and the nurses were wheeling me into recovery, where they sat me in a chair, let me relax for a few minutes and offered me some juice. The discharge nurse went over all the post-op instructions and soon, I was walking out to the car to be driven home. Five weeks later, Dr. Wan performed surgery on my left eye. At no point during or after these surgeries did I experience any pain or even mild discomfort.
At first, after surgery in each eye, vision was somewhat blurry. That cleared up in about 18 hours. The post-op protocol has been simple and easy: a follow-up exam by Dr. Wan the day after surgery, with periodic checks of eye pressure and vision; and finally, a dilated eye exam. I continued the eye drops daily according to instructions.
After surgery, especially in the first eye, I was wowed visually by the burst of light. When I first walked into our house, I took a look around and said, “Whoa, I don’t have to repaint these walls after all.” Accustomed to seeing them through my clouded natural lenses (cataracts) for a year or more, the walls had appeared to be a dingy yellow. I was amazed how white they actually were. Colors of roses were suddenly more vivid. Branches and leaves of trees came into crisp focus. It’s only gotten better from there. At my recent exam, I was found to have very close to 20/20 distance vision, uncorrected, with both eyes open. Out hiking these days, I can see forever. Amazing to me, I can actually read the newspaper, books and the computer screen very well without any glasses at all. For very fine print or reading over a long time period, I sometimes use non-prescription readers. And I might at some future time benefit from computer glasses. But no more toting reading glasses to restaurants, to the grocery store, to church. Best of all, I see clearly again, near and far. It’s a whole new lease on life.
In a word, Thanks! I’d like to express my gratitude to everyone at Coastal Eye who participated in giving me back my vision. First, to Dr. Lee Wan for his superb surgical skills and genuinely caring manner. Now I appreciate more fully why he has been listed on the Best Doctors in America roster for the last 20 years. My thanks also to Coastal Eye optometrist Dr. Meiya Liao, for her outstanding primary care at my annual eye exams and for gently prodding me to not delay surgery too much longer. Anne Miller, COA, is the Surgery Coordinator extraordinaire. She expertly prepared me for surgery with the help of her colleague, Denise Lopez. Coastal Eye’s skilled ophthalmic technicians performed vision assessments and other testing before and after surgery with smiles and words of encouragement. They included Karen Rondot, COT; Lourdes Muñoz, OSC; Aretha Nunnery, OSC; and Valerie Yeung, COA. A word of thanks also for the excellent care I received from the nurses, technicians, anesthesiologist and nurse anesthetist at Channel Islands Surgicenter.