Only after surgery did I notice how poor my eyesight was

Photo of a woman holding an umbrella (Marcus Miranda / iStock / Thinkstock) Christine, 74 years old:

“When I returned home after surgery my first thought was: I need to call a painter!”

A few years ago I had retinal detachment in one eye. I nearly went blind because of it. I had surgery on the eye and it went very well. Afterwards my vision was very good.

At a check-up following the surgery the doctor told me that I had developed cataracts in both eyes. But it was still at a very early stage.

My vision got worse very slowly

Back then I started to gradually notice a number of different things, like that I couldn’t really read inscriptions on old buildings anymore, or that it was difficult to make out signs that had white letters on a brown background. I was very sensitive to bright light too. Colors were no longer as intense. I didn’t realize all of this consciously, because it was a gradual process and my vision got worse very slowly.

After a while my doctor said that it was time to do something about my cataracts. She advised me to get both of my lenses replaced.

I had inpatient surgery

The first eye was operated on in 2004. Because I was considered to be at higher risk due to my previous retinal detachment, I had inpatient surgery. The doctor in charge of the surgery at the hospital let me decide which eye should be done first. I chose the one with worse vision in case something went wrong.

I felt very well cared for at the clinic. The only thing that bothered me was that the doctors injected the anesthetic directly into my eye. But the pain only lasted a few seconds. I was very nervous before having surgery and was put on a drip to calm my nerves a little. And they fix the position of your head so that you don’t move it by accident.

Afterwards I could see much better

When I returned home after surgery my first thought was: I need to call a painter! I could see that my kitchen was in desperate need of a new coat of paint, which I had never noticed before. It wasn’t until after surgery that I realized how poor my vision had really been.

The gas flame on my stove was really bright again, for example. When I rode my bike I could look at oncoming traffic and not be as blinded as I was before. And even others noticed that I could read signs once again.

After the operation it took about six weeks for me to get glasses. That’s a lot of waiting, but it wasn’t that bad either. At the hospital I was given a long list of things to look out for and things to avoid. I followed the advice of a friend and put all of my things at home on higher shelves and tables before having surgery because you’re not supposed to bend down in the first six weeks following the operation. I also wasn’t supposed to do any exercise until my eye had recovered. So I just did other things, like going to a concert or the movies. You’re just not supposed to use your eyes too much. And after the six weeks are up, you can do anything you like again.

Then I had surgery on the second eye in early 2005. Since then I can drive at night again without having to squint all the time.

Now my eyesight is normal again

Now I only wear reading glasses, and don’t need to wear glasses otherwise. My eyes feel normal and I’m not in any pain, which is great. I don’t have any problems with my eyesight.

Being able to trust my doctors was essential for me. I always felt that I was in good hands and never doubted any of the decisions that were made.

Many people I know have had cataract surgery and practically all of them had a positive experience.


Acknowledgment

Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.

The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.

Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.