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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Remove the Scales From Our Eyes

Francis of Assisi - Friar (4 Oct 1226)

Now that it's done, I will share that I have been dealing with a degradation in my vision since about the beginning of the year.  Most alarmingly, as I approached bright lights from a distance, I saw three of them , arranged in a triangle, which would gradually converge as I approached.   Those newfangled LED signs were also especially vexing, because the letters were offset just enough to make the words impossible to read, reducing the whole affair to a blindingly bright mess.  How was I to know if the 1997 Mercury Capri to my left contained a kidnapped child or disoriented senior citizen?  I can make light of it now, but I took this impairment seriously and curtailed my driving to familiar roads in the daytime.  I felt confident enough in my ability to assess traffic and avoid obstacles, but not being able to easily see signs wasn't funny.

Because the unholy trinity described above was getting further apart and not closer together as time went on, I knew it was not something that was going to go away on its own. After a few attempts to deal with the problem, my regular optometrist referred me to the surgeon who repaired my retina in 2009.  I was rapidly diagnosed with cataracts, which is unusual but not unheard of for someone my age.

A cataract was not -- as I imagined -- a scratch or crater, so much as a build-up of crud.  The more it accumulates, the harder it is to see. So, over the past few weeks, I had minor surgery on both eyes which basically replaced the dirty lens with a clean one, which (bonus!) is also shaped to correct my extreme near-sightedness.  A new technique, being used by my surgeon only since July, also addressed my astigmatism, which means that - at least for distance - I won't need glasses!  Considering I have sported them since I was five, I am pretty excited about that part. Paradoxically, I jumped the line for being totally dependent on reading glasses, which means my trademark move of squinting at my phone five inches from my face will be retired from my act... once i remember it no longer works!

The amazing aspect of all this is how easy it all was. I was in the surgical center for no more than three hours each time, and part of that was spent waiting my turn.  The procedure itself was a few minutes, and within a few hours of getting home, I was unbandaged, looking no scarier than normal, and in only minor discomfort.  The follow-up amounts to some drops, three times a day, for the next week, and I have to be super-diligent about wearing sunglasses and hats because the fake lenses do not offer the same UV protection your body's do.

The cost of all this was not insignificant.  I am keenly aware how lucky I am to have insurance through my employer, which -- although my contribution has grown over the past few years -- still absorbed the lion's share of the bill.  The laser "upgrade" was out-of-pocket because it is not considered medically necessary, but I hate the idea that a person would forgo treating a problem like this -- which can literally affect your and others' safety -- because they couldn't pay for it.  As our government continues to use the AFA as a political football, I'm grateful to be seeing the world through new eyes, and wondering who around me is squinting, or suffering, as a result of our leaders' inability to work together. I hope my "new eyes" make me that much more aware of my tendency toward indifference, and willing to seize the opportunity to do good.

Grant, O Father, that your loving kindness in causing my own lines to fall in
pleasant places may not  make me less sensitive to the needs of others less privileged,
but rather more incline me to lay their burdens upon my own heart.  And if any
adversity should befall myself, then let me not brood upon my own sorrows, as if I
alone in the world were suffering, but rather let me busy myself in the  compassionate
service of those who need my help.  Then let the power of my Lord Jesus Christ
be strong within me, and His peace invade my spirit.  Amen.



  1. This is wonderful--congratulations!

  2. Glad to hear that the docs could fix it, and make you even better than new, or at least better than middle-aged.

  3. As you know, I had similar procedures more than a dozen years ago and with similar results. When I went for my last checkup, my vision still hadn't changed since then. The advances in this kind of medical practice are astounding. I remember when my mother's father, your great-grandfather Khalil Aun, had cataract surgery in the early 1950s. He convalesced at our house, and he had to stay flat on his back in a dark bedroom with sandbags on both sides of his head to keep him from moving. Be prepared for frequent summonses to read the fine print on labels!