Today was my first step to treating this thing. My first appointment, 3:30 p.m. at the Ophthalmology (it took having this eye condition to get me to finally spell the word correctly) department at Kaiser Permanente’s L.A. Medical Center. Dr. Hyong Sok Choe, M.D. I underwent an eye test on both eyes and after a long wait, finally sat in his examination chair. My head sat on some sort of frame while he examined my eyes with a bright light. Almost matter-of-factly, he diagnosed my right-eye blindness as a cataract. The malady was so advanced that he couldn’t see into my eye, so he did an ultrasound of the eye. Fortunately, he couldn’t detect any unusual issues besides the cataract, but I’d need the cataract removed for him to if there were any other issues. And then scheduled me for surgery.
Surgery. It sounded so…serious. I asked him what it entailed.
Basically, my cataract-encrusted natural lens that I have been seeing through for some 45 years would be removed and replaced with an artificial one, which is fixed for near-sighted vision and that I would require glasses to see distances. But after reading and participating in a thread in a model railroading forum on the topic of cararacts (how timely!), I discovered about a multifocal lens, which allows one to see both near- and far-sighted, but would come at a cost. I inquired about that, and he said that they do provide it, though it would cost $2,500, as it’s not covered by insurance ($2,500 is a lot of money, but we’re talking about eyesight here; I consider that an investment).
And the whole procedure would take all but 15 minutes. But I would have to be put on the track for the procedure, which means it would take at least a month to happen.
That means at least a whole month of walking around, cloudy-eyed, closing my good eye periodically to realize that I am indeed visually-impaired, and sometimes bumping into people in the subway station on my right side because I can’t see them. A whole month of driving cautiously (a friend of mine lost one eye in his youth yet still drives, so I figured I could do it), though limiting my driving to nearby distances, familiar streets and avoiding nighttime driving as much as possible. At least a whole month of being super-conscious of whether my right eye will wander and cause me to look obviously blind, at least a whole month of being somewhat hermit-like and just passing the time away so we can all get this over with.
It seems though, it’s all going to be worth the wait.
My pupils were also dilated for the appointment, and though I returned to work after visiting the doctor, I eventually took the rest of the day off because I basically couldn’t read anything in my condition.
Next stop: Lens measurement appointment next Monday.