Here’s Looking at You, World

By Bob Gaydos

Post-op. Coffee and a buttered roll. I.R. Photography

Post-op. Coffee and a buttered roll.
I.R. Photography

“You were nearly legally blind in that eye and now you’re 20/20.”

     In fact, in both eyes. For the first time since, well, ever. Merry Christmas.

      The 20/20 score was reported to me by a technician who had just asked me to look at the eye chart and tell her what I could see with my left eye. I started at the bottom. I am one of the 2 million or so Americans who had cataract surgery this year. Virtually all the procedures were successful, as usual.      

     I can now write this column, look out the window, stare at the clock in the other room, just look without thinking about what I’m trying to see and I find it all just amazing because it is so commonplace today.

             You lay back on a table, stare without blinking into a bunch of bright lights (into a second bright light if you elect laser as well), they remove the cloudy lens in your eye and replace it with a new, clear one. Voila! Rest a bit, have some coffee, get dressed and go home. Take the eye drops as prescribed. Don’t drive immediately, but move about freely in the world.

        And boy is it a bright, colorful world. The impact was remarkable, especially for someone who had worn strong prescription eyeglasses since the first grade, from get-out-of-bed to go-to-bed. No more. I’m grateful.

        Indeed, it regularly amazes me how we take for granted so many scientific advances in our lives, barely give them a second thought much less a moment of gratitude, yet at the same time doubt or dispute science when it doesn’t fit our preconceived beliefs, often based on nothing but self-serving pronouncements from non- scientists. Only when the science hits home do some, reluctantly, notice what an incredible world we enjoy.

         This year, I had an inflamed gall bladder removed without surgeons having to open my whole midsection. I had lenses removed from each eye and replaced with new ones, with no pain or discomfort. Everything’s working fine.

          Not so in the Fifth Century B.C., when the first cataract surgery was performed without benefit of anesthesia or sterile conditions. A sharp needle was used to push the lens out of the viewing axis. It was called “couching” and the outcomes were terrible.

           This went on until 1747, when French surgeon Jacques Daviel actually removed a lens from an eye, using a special knife and spatula. Post-op was a cotton dressing soaked in wine placed on the eye and the patient resting in a darkened room for several days. Complications were common.

           Not until after World War II was the second half of the operation — placing a new lens in the eye — possible. Research in the 21st century has developed better lenses, safer techniques and the use of lasers for incisions. Today, the procedure is not only commonplace, but regarded by most people as routine. 

          And I see that as remarkable.

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at





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One Response to “Here’s Looking at You, World”

  1. ernie miller Says:

    What a gift! Modern medicine, health care, science, researchers all deserve a big thanks today. You and I would be dead today but for modern health care.

    Many blessings to be grateful for; vision is priceless.

    “See” you soon.


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