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Storms & Cataract Operation

 There’s not a lot going on outside apart from the storms that keep hitting us. It seems we have two days of howling wind and rain followed by a day of calm and then the next storm relentlessly sweeps in from the Atlantic.


Human Eye – Credit Petr Novák CC BY-SA 2.5

The calm days are actually quite strange and still, hard to believe it’s the same place where just hours before the wind has been playing Frisbee with anything not nailed down.

Cataract Operation

Anyway, regardless of the weather, Thursday was my cataract operation. I got myself into a right old funk on Wednesday night, hardly a wink of sleep. By 5:30am I was seriously wondering if it would be so bad to just carry on without it. I know it’s not a great deal to do with allotments but I hope my writing about it proves useful to some other poor devil sitting on the computer imitating a jelly before the operation.

Having been awake all night, by the time I got to the hospital I was too tired to be scared. Besides, what youngster of 59 can show fear when in a room full of much older ladies patiently waiting their turn?

Arrived at Ysbyty Gwynedd (Gwynedd Hospital) at 2:30pm to find I was last on the list, so a two hour wait. Being Mr Cool, I dozed off, or maybe it was something to do with no sleep the night before.

Next I knew they made me sit in a chair and wheeled me through, more eye drops and out came the surgeon with a hypodermic. Oh Golly! (or something similar) I said as sheer terror grabbed me. He laughed and said I wouldn’t feel it and he’d be worried at the thought of a needle in the eye. Didn’t feel it at all.

Then onto a table and they sort of wrap your head up in seconds and we’re away. I think it was about 15 minutes of slight pressure, odd noises, instructions like look up, look down and the most amazing psychedelic light show since Timothy Leary.

I was very aware of having to keep as still as possible so felt very cramped after lying tensely, even trying to breath shallowly and not to cough. Also, the second I got on the table, my first thought was I should have popped to the loo first!

Wheeled back to the recovery area for a cuppa and a biscuit (ahh, tea cures everything) along with a pill that would make my fingers tingle, reduce pressure in the eye and make me pee more. Obviously after the psychedelics we were moving onto the harder stuff!

I noticed at this point I could actually see a bit better than usual!

Half hour wait in case my eye fell out or something and then the nurse walked with me to the car (Val brought it around to the side door). Bit embarrassed but I was unsteady on my feet and vision (with no specs on because of the eye shield) blurry. All in all, not as bad as some dental visits.

I felt reasonably good in the evening, ate a light tea and early to bed except the tingle finger pill had me up every two hours through the night!

Friday arrived and off came the protective eye shield – a sort of transparent plastic pirate patch. Blood shot does not begin to describe it. I looked like I’d got in the boxing ring with Mike Tyson and I’d not won.

Felt pretty sorry for myself. More shaken than I expected and whilst the eye doesn’t hurt as such, there’s a bit of an ache and it feels as if some grit is in it. I remind myself “Do not rub or touch your eye!”

As each day goes by, the soreness wears off and it already looks less bloodshot. Overall it’s well worth the discomfort for the amazing result. My sight to the left is now clear, which I expected, but everything is brighter which I hadn’t. There’s a blue tinge to light and the bathroom halogens are too bright. It’s lovely!

On final point – the department seems to run like a well-oiled machine, smooth and efficient but just as important to a terrified patient, from the nurses to the consultant, they are friendly and caring with a sense of humour. They all deserve a huge thank you.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary, Rants and Raves
26 comments on “Storms & Cataract Operation
  1. janet thomas says:


    • John Harrison says:

      @janet thomas: Janet I only had a cataract in one eye so don’t need the other doing. If I did need it I wouldn’t feel scared as I did. Honestly, I’ve had worse experiences at the dentist.
      I don’t think herbal treatments will help at all – if you go to the optician they’ll check for the first signs of problems like cataract and glaucoma. Catching things early means less problems later on.

      I’m really happy to have helped put some minds at rest – Yes David, have noted to avoid pop rivets at all costs!! It sounds horrific.

  2. Thanks for letting us know about your op, I am glad all turned out well and you have noticed an improvement, it helped me as I got to have the same in the near future, last time I went for my eyes testing it was mentioned, but
    she said its not desperate yet and I would know myself when its time, at the moment my vision is quite blurry and my eyes constantly water so maybe I should go back now, but your piece has made me feel better,
    Thank you Sue Branton.

  3. Hello John,
    I think I will need a Glaucoma/ Cataract operation soon, I have a few problems with some reading, Mind you the ridiculous SMALL PRINT, in some articles / Magazines etc. doesn’t help. However , Many Thanks for your Write-Up, Very interesting, So for now Cheers John, Keep up the good work, Regards Gerry,U.

  4. Brian cheer says:

    I know the feeling John, I went through the same operation on both eyes this time last year, but I am 80 – it is wonderful after you can see all colours much more clearly, the bind is getting the wife to put in the eye drops for the following moth after the operation.
    The only problem it brings that you will need glasses to see the seeds to sow from now on.

    Best wishes,

  5. Brian Vernon says:

    It may not be gardening but it was well worth reading. As we all get older it seems that most of us are likely to have this eye operation. When one retired at 65 and were dead by 67 this op was less necessary. Now we are living to 90/100 life would not be worth a bean if we could not read or drive the car.

    So thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  6. David says:

    Hello John, you were lucky!
    I managed to fire the “nail” part of a pop rivet into my left eye on 26th June last year, operation involving 7 stitches to repair the Y shaped gash in my eyeball wasn’t as bad as I was thinking.The lens was taken out a few days later due to perforation.
    Ultrasound got rid of debris and muck a few weeks later, injections two off comprising steroids etc hurt a bit and last one left my eye very bloodshot.
    I was promised a new acrylic lens for about two months ago and it was then changed half way through to a contact lens, neither of which I’ve seen yet, no pun intended.
    Oxford eye hospital is always packed, two waiting rooms with about 60 to 70 people waiting hours, some getting angry at the wait.
    We can only put up and let the experts do their job, I was told it’d be 5 to 12 months length job!
    Good luck with your eye and take care, David.

  7. Brian cheer says:

    Janet Thomas I can assure you there is nothing to fear I honestly hardly felt anything just lots of bright lights and water every where around eye and neck, I had my cataract surgery at Emerson’s Green NHS Treatment Centre in Bristol, with a brilliant Surgeon Mr Pandit, unlike John I had no discolouration of either eye, and no table to lie on but a very comfortable moulded reclining chair similar to the Dentist ones.The most uncomfortable thing is one of the three eye drops one has to use afterwards does tend to sting for a minute or two. It’s a wonderful new world out there afterwards. .Go ahead Janet without any fear it’s great and painless.

    Brian Cheerl

  8. Sylvia says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. We often hear of cataract operations but I’ve never read a first hand report. It still sounds scary but at least if any of my patients (do reflexology at a day centre) ask me about it I can point them to your site. Hope the healing continues and happy growing for 2014.

    • John Harrison says:

      @Sylvia: It’s healing well, thanks.
      The info from the hospital is comprehensive but obviously written with a duty to inform the patient of all the things that can go wrong and cover it against legal action.
      Put bluntly, you have a choice of having the operation or accepting blurred vision and there is a very small risk of things going wrong.
      My understanding is that the majority of things that do go wrong are down to patients not following the post-operative instructions about putting the drops in your eye and avoiding strain and knocks etc.
      It’s no worse than having a deep filling in a back tooth and an eye infection after – neither are pleasant but neither are they a cause for terror.

  9. Phil says:

    John, I wish you’d written this before I had to have my eye op in 2012! Like you, I was petrified beforehand and came out wondering what all the fuss was about. I hope you are continuing to heal well.

    Janet, it would be really worth talking through any concerns you have with the consultant. Mine couldn’t have been more helpful & reassuring, and I didn’t even need to ask about a lot of the things that were worrying me – he answered them before I even asked as he said nearly everyone has the same worries!

  10. Philip says:

    Hello John following your report. I have just had my Op on the 16th Jan. Like you I was rather nervous and not looking forward to it. I had mine done in the Norfolk and Norwich Nelson Eye Clinic someones idea of a joke I suppose! anyway I must have been lucky, very quick, all over in ten minutes and never felt a thing and no hypodermic only drops to numb the eye.The results as others have stated are amazing I could watch telly that night and no imflammation or discomfort so far. I hope this gives other some comfort, you are so well looked after and put at ease. I have been wanting to have this cateract done for a year and I am so glad I had the IOL I can see so much better and the brightness of the colours are wonderful. Kind regards and happy gardening to all. Philip.

    • John Harrison says:

      @Philip: It sounds like you had an even better experience than I did. I’ve had some discomfort but nothing beyond irritating.
      Had an eye exam the other day – happy to say they are no longer concerned about glaucoma and I read the bottom line of the eye chart with my left eye. That is something I’ve not done since I was 10!

  11. Janet t king says:

    My other half has a genuine needle/hospital phobia. I went the 1st time with him and couldn’t believe how quick it was. Like John, he described the sound and light show 🙂 he went by himself when he had his other eye done. His advice? Go do it!!!

  12. john dean says:

    Thank you john for the information on the cataract operation. I have one due in early March and although I feel a little anxious I’m telling myself it will be most likely a success. My mother and my wife’s mother as well had it done and they didn’t bat an eyelid so why should eye. Many thanks.

  13. Irene in Washington State, usa says:

    John, thank you so much for sharing the details of your cataract surgery. I will soon be having the same operation and now, thanks to your upbeat message and those of others who have also had such happy outcomes, I’ll face the surgery bravely! Many thanks.

  14. Kathy Lawrence says:

    There’s a coincidence! I had just re-read the article you very kindly wrote for the When They Get Older website after your op, about how you discovered the cataract was there and how the day went. I went back to look partly it’s such a help to people to know what they’re facing and I wanted to share it again, and partly because it will be my turn soon! The article’s still there at if anyone wants to take a look. Thanks John for taking the time to tell us your experience.

  15. Angie Eccles says:

    Hi John. I am glad your first cataract operation was a success. Not all of them are. Trust me I know. I had two in 2010 and both have been abject failures. I had to have two new lenses removed and then replaced again, but still no luck. I am left with “Vaseline” vision very badly in one eye and hav glares and haloes in both eyes. A total disaster for me and total waste of money as I paid privately. I used to do a lot of stargazing, but that is now totally out of the question. Please be aware that there is a 3% failure rate of this operation and not everyone has a good outcome. I’d think twice about recommending it to anyone unless their eyesight depended on it.

    • John Harrison says:

      I’m sorry to hear of your problems with your private surgery. I had mine done on the NHS and they were wonderful although I had to wait. They did run through the risks in some detail prior to booking me in and certainly there is risk with any procedure or medicine for that matter. Statistics can be very misleading but the risk of serious complications developing as a result of cataract surgery is very low and most common complications can be treated with medicines or further surgery – according to the NHS web site. There is a very small risk – around 1 in 1,000 (0.1%) – of permanent sight loss in the treated eye as a direct result of the operation.
      The stats are very good but that doesn’t really matter to the individual unless you’re the unlucky one.

  16. Paul Clifford says:

    I had been short-sighted wearing glasses for 50 years and developed wet AMD in my right eye… and then cataracts. My first cataract operation in my right (AMD) eye the consultant replaced my lens with a no.13 lense… giving that eye 20/20 vision (but out of focus central vision as caused by the AMD)! The second operation the following year he asked me what lens I wanted! I said, “the same as the right eye”, he checked and fitted a no.12 lens and again I had 20/20 vision.
    I have had 20/20 vision for the last 5 years apart from buying a few ‘2’ and ‘2.5’ reading glasses for £3 each for reading etc (but that’s purely an age thing).
    From short sighted with glasses to 20/20 without… in 15 minutes!!

  17. Brynmor Evans says:

    I had my second cataract done a fortnight ago, all went well. I got to Bridgend Hospital at 8am and my son was picking me up at 10,30 with the operation completed, I was lucky to be first on the list. I am 83 years of age and pleased that I had it done in January because you are not allowed to do any gardening etc for a month. Only a fortnight to go and I can get cracking in my greenhouse.

  18. Catherine Mangnall says:

    My husband Paul suffered a detached retina & macula last July. After an operation with a poor prognosis for maybe 50% vision being restored he then was told he was developing a cataract .All seemed doom and gloom but after a simple painless process to remove the cataract he now has perfect 20/20 vision. Better than mine!! Absolutely amazing. Can’t thank everyone involved enough. Wonderful result from what seemed a gloomy future for him.

  19. cathy burbidge says:

    Good for you John-you will see all the weeds now! Plus any dust in the house! I unfortunately have macular degeneration in my right eye do to a fall down the stairs onto a stone floor when I was 4 so cataracts are most preferable! Love all your news letters and so many thanks for all the tips and advice and the foggy days have gone at last xx

  20. Sue says:

    Hello John,

    A bit late I know,but I didn’t worry about reading any of this as “I was ok!” I returned to your email today as I too have one in my left eye which has been there for a year! I couldn’t understand why everything was so blurred in it, though it makes me wonder, whyever wasn’t it found a year ago when all the problems began! Still, thanks to you and everyone else, I can now look forward to it being done. The lights concern me a lot though as I have uncontrolled epilepsy and can’t bear lights, still what must be…
    Thanks to you and everyone else for your marvellous tales and advice. A happy and successful gardening/allotment year to all!


    • John Harrison says:

      Good luck Sue – the lights are similar to when you press on your eye so maybe won’t be a problem but do make sure they’re aware – never does any harm to check the surgeon is aware as you go in either.

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