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Thread: Seeing more color and clarity in the view from the hill

  1. Default Seeing more color and clarity in the view from the hill

    By: Richard Packham ~ September 6, 2009

    The view from the hill has been much better recently. At least for me. No improvement for my wife, just for me.

    One of my pet peeves is people who want to tell you all about their operation. What their symptoms were, how it was finally diagnosed, their stay in the hospital, the hospital food, the nice nurses, the medications they are taking, and endlessly on and on. I am not going to do that. But I am going to tell you about my recent operation. Actually, two operations.

    I have worn eyeglasses since I was in the fifth grade. Over the years the myopia naturally grew worse, and every few years I had to get stronger lenses. I tried contact lenses for a few years, but found that I needed reading glasses anyway when I wore the contacts, so I gave that up. But in the last few years, as in many people my age, cataracts developed. My eye doctor finally told me that my eyes were so bad I could no longer legally drive.

    The solution: surgery to replace the cataract-blurred natural lens with a little piece of plastic. One for each eye.

    Now, if you are at all like me, the idea of anybody — no matter how skilled, experienced, and steady-handed — cutting on my eyeball was not a very pleasant idea. But I had no choice. I scheduled the surgery, which is an out-patient procedure, for the eye with the worse vision of the two.

    It could not have been easier or more painless. My wife was driving me home about an hour after we had arrived at the clinic. The surgery for the other eye was scheduled for two weeks later.

    In the meantime, I was viewing the world with one good eye (one VERY good eye) and one old eye with cataracts. It was, to use a phrase, an eye-opening experience. I had not realized that my vision had been so dimmed and blurred by the cataracts that I was seeing everything the way people in Los Angeles see everything on a smoggy day. What was really white had registered in my bad eyes as brownish-yellow. That's what I thought white looked like. I had been viewing the world not through “rose-colored glasses” but through smog-tinted lenses.

    The other eye has been done now, and for the first time in my life I can see well without eyeglasses or contact lenses. I need glasses for reading or close work, but otherwise I see well. Colors are brighter, images are sharper. At night I can see individual stars without glasses.

    There are some slight disadvantages, however, to this brighter, sharper view. I never used to wear sunglasses, but now the light is so bright that I am more comfortable outdoors with a pair of dark glasses. The upside to that, of course, is that now I so often look “cool” with my “shades” (unless someone notices my face wrinkles and gray hair).

    The other disadvantage is that now I notice every speck of dirt in the house, every finger smudge on the cupboard door, every cobweb under a chair. “Good!” says my wife. “Maybe now you'll help with the housecleaning!”

    And I have learned a great lesson from all of this. What I thought I was seeing through my cataract-clouded eyes was not what the world really was. And I suspect that I am not alone in having had a false image of the world around us, and not just because of cataracts.

    (pictured) Richard Packham, a retired college professor and attorney who moved with his wife and son in 1990 from San Francisco to the Dixonville area, where they raise cattle and timber.
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