The past week has been eventful here. Actually, you could say it has been a real eye-opener. First, the weather…back to normal for the first week of March, so that is okay. Next, the news…well, there isn’t any big news from here other than I did decide to start up the engines on Amélie the other day. After sitting in the marina for the past several months, I thought it might be a good thing to do and after a few spins, they each kicked in and life was good on the boat. And now, I will get to the real subject of this chapter of “Letters.”

Years ago, I wore glasses. It seems like I had worn them for most of my life. I can even remember when I was about 12 or 13, being told by an eye doctor that if I wore bi-focals for several years, my eyes would become all better. Well, that doctor was an idiot, as I wore both bi-focals with those nasty lines and the type where the two lens sort of merged into one another for years. Then one day, whilst living on Angelina in Barcelona, I was leaning over the bow pulpit and my glasses flipped off my head and slowly danced their way to the bottom of the harbour. I actually had a diver come over and pointed to exactly where the glasses had disappeared, but after about 30 minutes of him sweeping the bottom, all I could assume was that when the glasses were on their way to the seabed, they landed on some poor unsuspecting fish and he (or she, to be politically correct) was now the only four-eyed tuna around.

After a few days, I decided to go get some replacement glasses and after an eye exam, did manage to buy another pair. But as I already had a pair of chemist glasses for reading, I only had the prescription set for distance. I thought that was a clever move, but as it turned out, the bloody glasses were so heavy, I decided to try wearing contact lenses. When I was in my teens, I had wanted to switch to contacts, but I never could quite get the hang of not flinching as my finger came closer and closer to my eye, so I gave up trying. But now, at a clearly more mature age, I decided to give it a go again. This time, I mastered the lens-insertion-technique and I was in well-sighted once again.

My ocular prescription was different for each eye and after talking to a friend in London who was in the midst of having that laser-surgery-thing, I decided to try wearing only one contact lens; the one in my right eye. My reasoning was based on what my friend had told me…the brain automatically distinguishes which eye is being used when only one is corrected for distance. So again, I was well-sighted, as well as not being as poor from buying two different contact lens prescriptions all the time.

I was even more clever when I discovered that I could wear my contact lens (note, only one lens now) for days on end. The fact that the box my lenses came in was clearly marked “daily” didn’t bother me. I was just so chuffed that I didn’t have to do the “hold-the-eye-open, drag-out-the-old-lens-and-stick-in-the-new-lens” routine every day.

One day, after not changing the lens for a bit more than a week (I know…longer than a week is a lot more than 'daily'), I did decide to change it and I really struggled to get it out. I think it had sort of super-glued itself to my eyeball I think.  But after several attempts, I did manage to get the little bugger our and for a while, I wore no contact lenses. No glasses, no contacts…nothing. And miraculously, I could pretty much see. No, I didn’t think that the first doctor’s prediction was coming true, I just assumed that my eyes decided that it might be better to function properly than to risk having me stick things into them again.

So for the past seven or eight years, I haven’t worn any corrective eyewear, and have managed rather well. When I went through the completely painful process of earning my Spanish driver’s license, I had to take an eye test, but did squeak through, so there was no real reason to even contemplate glasses or contact lenses again. This was a real bonus as it enabled me to assemble a collection of trendy sunglasses.

But (and this became a big but) a few weeks ago, I went to an ophthalmologist for a check up and was told that I had a cataract in my right eye. I knew that this eye was playing up a bit, but attributed that to the possibility that the eye function of my brain was getting tired of figuring out which eye to use for focus as I tend to switch my focus from my computer screen to looking out at the Mediterranean multiple times each day. Sven (no, this is not a Spanish name…my eye doctor is from Sweden) gave me the options: I could, A) do nothing until that eye was so buggered that I would probably need a pirate-looking-patch (which did, for a person with a set of nautical chromosomes almost seem an attractive option); B) get some seriously corrective glasses (which do seem to work for Elton John); or C) have cataract surgery. The last option seemed to make the most sense so yesterday, I went under the knife, so to speak.

The only real problem that occurred was that the equipment in the surgery theatre didn’t seem to want to be calibrated correctly. Seeing as how his plan was to make a tiny incision with something smaller than a Swiss-Army knife (I hoped) and having all the magnification doo-wah stuff spot on was pretty important, all this meant was a 90 minute delay in Sven starting. The actual surgery - take out the cataract (the lens) and put in a new one - went quickly and about the only discomfort was having a light that appeared to be brighter than the sun blaring into my eye whilst he was doing it. I had asked Sven to describe to me everything he was doing as he did it (I do like to learn about things) but have decided not to describe the entire procedure in this chapter, as you might be eating and it could spoil your dinner.

Ten or fifteen minutes later, I walked out like a new man. Okay, like an old man with two good eyes. Okay…like an old man with one good eye and one eye that was dilated to about the size of Barbados. This morning the dilation had reduced so that my right eye lens was only the size of St. Thomas, so by tomorrow I should completely be in focus.


only a little while until this is what I will see from Sol y Mar again


so that's where they went


time to get your eyes tested too


it sure looks like an orange is in this person's eye


hey, it was just an option


am not sure if this is a good look for me


Sven's cataract removal tool

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012   James B. Rieley