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Observations: A return to photography, after a bout with being almost blind...

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Mosca, Oct 18, 2010.

  1. Mosca

    Mosca Mu-43 Regular

    103
    May 27, 2010
    Over the summer, my cataracts caught up with me. My left eye was uncorrectable with glasses (correctable to 20/100), and my right eye was correctable to 20/60; I was functionally blind in the one eye, and marginally able to see out of the other. (Interestingly, you only need to be 20/60 in one eye to drive a car in Pennsylvania. I'm here to tell you that the words "barely be able to" should be in front of the word "drive" in the previous sentence.)

    It's hard to describe how this affected me. It was gradual, until it was impossible to ignore. The best way to say it is that it affected my zest for life. Not being able to see beyond a certain distance made my preference for introversion more pronounced. If I couldn't see it, it wasn't important, and since my maximum clear distance was about arm's length, books and magazines and my laptop became good friends.

    When I couldn't ignore it any longer, I made the appointments to have my eyes analyzed and lens replacement surgery surgery performed. Although from the patient's perspective the surgery is similar to LASIK, the surgery itself is completely different. The lenses in my eyes were removed and discarded, and replaced by polycarbonate permanent lenses. The procedure is quick (about 5-10 minutes per eye), painless, and in fact this is the most commonly performed surgery in the world. As best I can describe it, again from the patient perspective, you look at a bunch of moving colored lights and then it is over, and you can see perfectly. My surgeon, Harvey Reiser at Eye Care Specialists in Kingston PA, is an amazingly dynamic person and a phenomenal surgeon. I had one eye done in late September, and the other in early October.

    To say that the results are astonishing... I don't know. I'm not sure there are words to describe it. The world is so sharp I feel like I could cut myself on the edges. My left eye is 20/20, and halfway to 20/15; my right eye is 20/20, and 3/4 of the way to 20/15. I feel like if I concentrate I could read the license plates on the cars driving by on the highway 1/2 mile away. And colors! I didn't know how much they'd degraded, how yellow the world had gotten, until I had one eye done and the other waiting. Everything in the left eye was clear, and vibrant; everything in the right eye had that late evening warm glow, even in mid day. (Which I'll admit, I kind of liked.)

    Perfect? Ah, not quite. There are limitations on the technology. The lenses are not biological. What this means is that their shape never changes; everything is always in focus. In practice, the brain takes care of this, only paying attention to what you are looking at specifically, but nevertheless it can feel almost artificial at times. I had considerable astigmatism, and I couldn't get the workaround for that phenomenon, bifocal lenses; I had to pick, slightly nearsighted and driving glasses, slightly farsighted and reading glasses, or one of each. I picked the reading glasses.

    Which is a really odd reversal of where I was before. Now I have trouble discerning anything within arm's length! For most things that don't matter, well, it doesn't matter. For all things distance, it is a non-issue. And if I'm reading, I have the glasses at hand. But for some things, involving both close and far, it really matters. Reading a recipe. Using a cell phone. Paying a check in a restaurant. If I don't have the reading glasses right there, I'm lost. Bringing something closer to my face just makes it worse.

    Which brings me to photography, and Live View, and my E-P1. Ouch.

    The add-on optical viewfinder, which I previously had no use for, is now a godsend. Even with the zoom lens, it is great for composing, with a little imagination. But a problem arises with the information display! The histograms are not a problem, but ISO and exposure data are problematic, and forget checking focus with the digital zoom; it's out of focus regardless!

    But, these things are really minor issues, not really even irritations. I'll adjust, I'll find workarounds. What matters is, I can see again! I can take pictures again!

    A week after the surgery, I drove halfway across the US to the Pitt/ND football game. I didn't take the E-P1, I needed more zoom; I took the Canon G9 and the telephoto extension lens. But since I'm not in the 4/3 section, I'll post a couple of things I saw, one close and one far. Life is good.




    IMG_0833.
     
    • Like Like x 14
  2. grebeman

    grebeman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Thanks for sharing that tale with us, it puts so many everyday problems into focus, if you'll excuse the poor pun. A friend of mine recently had various problems including failing eyesight, the diagnosis in his case was a benign brain tumour pressing on the optic nerve. That has been removed and he reports similar responses to his much improved visual abilities.
    All the best to you.

    Barrie
     
  3. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    Wow, Mosca - what a story! I am so happy that your surgeries have made such a wonderfully positive life changing difference in your life. I'm very touched by your explanation as to how your deteriorating eyesight was effecting your life, and so relieved and glad for this outcome. Congratulations to you!!!!:yahoo:

    Very glad to see your name pop up here today!:thumbup:

    P.S. Barrie, you are oh so right. I am very relieved to read that your friend is AOK!
     
    • Like Like x 2
  4. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Essex
    John
    As photographers I would think that blindness is one of the worst things that can happen to us. I'm so glad to hear that your surgery has been a success and that you are able to enjoy life and your hobby again.

    I appreciate what you say about the difficulty of using the LCD when you are long sighted. I am extremely short sighted and an unexpected benefit of this is that I can peer over my glasses and focus on the screen from about six inches. This is almost as good as using a viewfinder and if I wear a cap with a long peak I can even shade the screen in bright sunlight!
     
  5. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    All that way, all that surgery, all that thinking and not one photo of a cheerleader. It's not as if there weren't any!
    Get your priorities in order.
     
  6. Bill Gordon

    Bill Gordon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I just had to join in the chorus of thanks for your posting. Eyesight is so important and when it starts to fade, yes I have been through this as well, we take it for granted. I had the same results after having implants....the colours, the sharpness and particularly at night the blazing coloured neon lights, all those good things. Your posting should be inspiring to those who have not yet reached that point in life when eyesight really matters!!
     
    • Like Like x 2
  7. Fiddler

    Fiddler Mu-43 Veteran

    Thanks very much for sharing that story. It's great that you're able to enjoy life and photography more now.
     
  8. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I had a good friend who, in her early 40's had typically adult eyesight problems. Nothing serious or unusual, just the typical 'eyes don't focus like they used to' kind of thing. But she let it go a loooooong time before she decided it was a problem she should address - some people are just like that. And then she got glasses. And it completely freaked her out - she suddenly had SOOO MUCH more information to process she could barely deal with it for a while.

    Your story, although far more serious and profound, reminded me of her and her reaction. I'm glad that you appreciate what you have now rather than being intimidated by it. Its one of those things those of us with reasonably good vision tend to take for granted (like most forms of good health), but its a hugely important thing. Not to mention that photography doesn't work without it.

    One question though - if you have trouble seeing things up close because of your permanent lenses, wouldn't something like bifocals or progressive lenses help with that? I have progressives and find them a god-send - after a few days I was completely unaware of them and focus everywhere without a second thought. Wouldn't something like that (with different prescriptions of course) also work for someone with synthetic lenses?

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Mosca

    Mosca Mu-43 Regular

    103
    May 27, 2010
    They actually make a "bullseye" bifocal implant lens, but because of my astigmatism I couldn't use it. But man, I wanted them!

    My glasses had been no-line trifocals for about 10 years, I never had a problem with them.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Mosca

    Mosca Mu-43 Regular

    103
    May 27, 2010
    I had to wait all day to get home to pull this shot off my computer; of course I got cheerleaders! So's you know, this is from far, far away, at max tele with tele converter on the Canon G9. Not awful, just OK.




    And the band.... these are some of my daughter's friends.

     
    • Like Like x 2
  11. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Essex
    John
    I can see why they are called cheerleaders, they could cheer me up anyday! :biggrin:
     
  12. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    Thanks Mosca, much appreciated!
    And a Band-Pyramid pile as a bonus. Very good.