Cyndi Lee left this as a comment this morning about her experiences as a child with a cataract. She gave me permission to re-post it here. Many thanks to her for sharing. -Ann Z
This is my first time writing anything about my cataracts…. I’m now 41, but I was born with a cataract only in my left eye. My right eye is still 20/20 (God is fair) and as much as I’ve joked to my doctors that they should use me in their thesis, no one takes me seriously. For one, I know the difference between being legally blind vs 20/20 and I can EXPLAIN to the adult world the cons and pros. So for those who are in need of some sanity for their child, read on.
A cataract is exactly like seeing objects underwater in a swimming pool. You see the object and can identity but it’s not crystal clear. I also had a lazy eye – that comes with the territory with most cataract cases in early childhood due to the lack of muscle usage. I’ve had a semi-successful surgery only because I waited too long. The procedure was not as advanced as it is today to fix the lazy eye syndrome related to cataract, but still I’m so grateful and happy for the surgery. The early years, I had to wear the “pirate” black eye piece to school which I endured great ridicule from the students and from which I still have nostalgic scars, BUT my strong parental influence and my brother being next to me had made all the difference in the world. Although in hindsight I would tell a “story” behind the patch, such as “my eye needs rest because I have extra vision like superman”….Something to that line to ease the ridicule…comedy is the best remedy. Encouragement and making sure the eye patch is “fashionable” due to the fact no one else has it makes it special!! Having a degree in fashion has definitely made me realize that being different is the key! It’s the love, support and encouragement the family shows that sketches out the future of the child. My mother still carries the guilt as though she had done terribly wrong during pregnancy but I always tell her I’m blessed as I have a 20/20 vision on my right eye versus the astigmatism my brother has on both eyes.
I underwent a retinal detachment surgery 3 years ago, I went in for a normal checkup and went into the emergency room that night. The damage was severe but the surgery was very successful. I did lose some sense of depth perception and some peripheral vision but my eyesight improved by one line on the chart which the doctor couldn’t explain. No one had ever educated or warned me about the retinal detachment that are prone to happen to people with cataracts, so I would advise any parent to always remember to ask during checkup as their child gets older. I did see flashes during the night while driving and spider web like floating around but thought it was just due to aging. Don’t be alarmed as I still have a tiny “floater” after the surgery but I received results from two specialized doctors and they said it was fine.
The recovery, was tedious, boring and restless! One must sleep facing down ( two weeks for me ) my mom and I’ve tried everything until we came up with a solution. Bought a massage table with the open headrest from Costco and placed a huge mirror under me angled towards the TV so I could at least be entertained and now there’s iPads. The recovery is very important as one can lose their vision if not properly taken care. It is imperative after this surgery to always have a doctor’s visit at least once a year if not twice just to be safe.