The intraocular option

Prescription eyeglasses are a constant in my life.  They’re my identity – with them, I’m Clark Kent; without them, I’m Matt Murdock.

If you wore glasses in school, you were the nerd, the geek, the dweeb, you were “four eyes” or “windshield face” or something less pleasant than that.  Kids would take your glasses and tease you before returning them, or something would happen to your glasses and they might break – and then you get it from your parents who say, “I spent a lot of money on those glasses, damn it, can’t you take care of anything?” (WHACK)

Ah, childhood.

Over my lifetime, I’ve researched options that would possibly reduce or hopefully eliminate my need for spectacles.  Unfortunately, my options were never suitable.

I tried contact lenses for a time – but despite doing all the things you’re supposed to do with contacts (washing them, cleaning them, not sleeping with them in your eyes), I developed a very bad sensitivity to light.  Two weeks after I first tried contact lenses, I was wearing sunglasses with the lenses.  Sorta defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

I also considered LASIK surgery.  But at the time, LASIK was so expensive – thousands of dollars per eye – that I immediately dismissed the option.  Yeah, spend an arm and a leg for an eye.

In less than two weeks, I’ll undergo the first of two cataract surgeries.  As the doctor explained my options during the surgery, he said something I thought I would never hear in my lifetime.

“Mr. Miller, how would you like to go the rest of your life with only a minimal need for glasses?”

Right, doctor.  Right.  And Lynda Carter’s in the next office, putting on her Wonder Woman outfit to meet me for lunch and a little private party after lunch.  Something involving getting tied up with a golden lasso and the like.

“No, Mr. Miller, we can implant an intraocular lens in your eye after we remove the cataract.  It’s made of a surgical-grade acrylic, and it will give you much improved vision.  You may still need eyeglasses for reading or close-up work, but that would be it.”

Someon’s gonna put this … in my eye…

Oh I get it.  Wrong 1970’s TV star.  You’re going to give me the Lee Majors bionic eye treatment?  Does this mean I get to go home to Farrah Fawcett, or is the surgery going to cost me six million dollars, man?

We discussed the options.  If I purchase the lens – medically it’s known as a toric intraocular lens – I would pay for each lens out of pocket before surgery.

“Do I have to make a decision now?” I asked.

“Take your time and think about it,” the doctor said. “You can make your decision later.”

Time for Chuck to go home and research this.

I know there’s no magic panacea that will give me perfect 20/20 vision.  I know this.  And I had to weigh all my options – do I want to deal with a life without a total reliance on prescription glasses, am I doing this for vanity or for how people see me as opposed to how I see people, am I taking a chance that the surgery could fail and I might need to ask my landlord if he accepts seeing-eye dogs as apartment pets?

You know what?  Maybe this is my emotional boost.  A chance to push aside one of my physical and emotional barriers.  I’m allowed to have a little vanity in my life, aren’t I?  I’m allowed to look better – and by “look better,” I mean that in both senses of the word – aren’t I?

Then I thought some more.  I can’t drive at night right now.  Straight up.  I’m relying more and more on Uber drivers to get me around, and that’s getting expensive.

Then I thought some more.  Intraocular lenses must be precisely installed.  Even the slightest variation or misalignment could cause the patient more vision problems.

I looked over my doctor’s curriculum vitae.  He’s been a cataract and glaucoma surgeon for the better part of a quarter of a century.  He’s Board Certified.  That means he was certified by a board of his medical peers.  He was highly recommended by both my ophthalmologist and my retinal specialist.

Then I thought some more.  This is a big financial hit.  These toric lenses aren’t cheap, and they aren’t covered by insurance.  For the price of these lenses, I could get that new Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera that just went on the market at B&H.  Heck, I could get one and still have cash left over to purchase a 58mm f/1.2 lens for some swank mirrorless astrophotography…

I looked over my finances.  I still had my winnings from the World Tavern Trivia championships.  That would pay for one eye.  And I had some recent art sales and prize money from Competition Season 2018 – that, combined with some currency squirreled away here and there … I can afford this.  The repo man’s not going to pull the intraocular lens out of my eyes for late payments.

All right.  So if I’m going to be Steve Austin, I have to get this decision made stone cold.

Two days ago, I called the surgeon’s office and paid for the intraocular lens for my right eye.  That’s the first eye – and currently my eye in greatest need of help – scheduled for surgery in less than two weeks.

Time to put my trust in God – and in the hands of a trained surgeon.

I won’t lie to you, my beloved blog readers.  I’m scared shitless about this surgery.  Anyone who wants to lend me their surgical spirit animals will be greatly appreciated.


Deep breath.

Let’s do this.