Modern medicine does not often restore youth. Surgery and chemotherapy kept me on the green side of the grass when I was hit by colon cancer – but came at a price in physical fitness. This year, I discovered that the Opthamologist fellows can return a large portion of youthful vision.
I went in with the MD’s orders to check for diabetic retinopathy. The damned diabetes came along with struggling through chemo – and type II diabetes is definitely better than dead. No complaints, and no diabetic retinopathy. That was good news. On the other hand, cataracts (I knew that was there) and the onset of macular degeneration. The macular degeneration diagnosis set me back – that was the cause of my father’s blindness. Still, analysis conquers fear – by the time Dad was my age, he needed to get off the road. He didn’t – but he should have. My macular degeneration has just started at 72 . . . and I made the decision to go for lens replacement surgery as soon as possible.
It’s wonderful. I was still testing a 20-20 vision with glasses – but the best I can describe the cataracts is as scratched, mud-spattered glasses. Seeing my world again with youthful vision is a wonderful thing. I had lost the distinction between nearby treetops and the mountains that form my horizon. It’s back. Trees on distance ridgelines are distinct, no longer blurring into a single mass with their neighbors. Deer at the edge of the forest are easily seen. I can identify the little diving ducks in the air, when I am too far away to hear the whistle from their wings.
There is an iridescent flash from the raven’s black feathers as he banks in the sunlight. The white from the bald eagle shines through the Douglas fir as he flies between trees in areas where a month ago he disappeared. I recall the improvement in vision that came with my first pair of glasses – now the improvement is there when I remember to take the reading glasses off.
It’s not the only miracle of modern medicine – my grandmother was bedridden after a broken hip, so I see hip replacement surgery as miraculous. Three times arthroscopic knee surgery has taken me from the crippled category to ambulatory. But this lens replacement is the surgery that returns youth. Will it last? With the onset of macular degeneration, the answer is an obvious no. That isn’t a problem – I have a new lease on vision. I know that lease will one day expire. I am enjoying what I have.