once i could see and now i am blind!

corrective eye surgery

I have been in a complete writing funk. The reason for this dry spell is that I recently had corrective eye surgery. It hasn’t been all together successful and the truth is –


I am not blind, but everything is a tad fuzzy – maybe more than a tad. More like a thick marine layer – Think seeing through a coat of Vaseline.

I could kick myself.

This decision to operate on my eyeball was prompted by vanity – and by an audition I went out on in May- I thought it was time to come out of semi-retirement – until – to my horror – I realized that I could no longer see dialogue on the pages.

I was already nervous – as it was my first audition in 4 years – and broke out in a clammy sweat as I asked the director if I could wear my reading glasses.

“No problem” He looked amused. Oh God, was it amusement? Or was it sympathy? Or maybe acknowledgement that I was soon for the glue factory!

But then, I realized that I could no longer see the casting assistant with whom I was reading – so I had to halt the audition – Sweat production increasing exponentially – to ask if I could rearrange the position of our chairs apropos the camera and move the woman I was reading with to sit closer to me, so I could see her in focus when I wore the damn glasses.

This was my first middle-aged moment as an actress.

I left feeling crushed – envisioning that all that was left for me were librarian and spectacled grandma roles!

I discovered I needed glasses 3 years ago, when I realized I couldn’t see my husband in focus when we engaged in intimate pillow talk. I would have to push him away so he wouldn’t look like a one-eyed Cyclops.

And when I had to ask him to read menus for me.

I mused ”Welcome to the Golden Years!” He laughed, “Who knew they would come so soon!” How true!

I had presbyopia – one of the joys of middle-age – perfect 20/20 vision except for anything up close. It seemed 20/20 was highly overrated. And it seemed that every 6 months my prescription went up at an alarming rate. Soon I could be wearing coke bottle glasses!

Then, as luck would have it, or not, I bumped into a friend who told me about this extraordinary procedure – Refractec – radio pulse frequency – different from laser – which miraculously coaxes the aging, flattening cornea to become round and youthful and boyant again.

“Really, it wasn’t painful? And no recovery time?” He assured me, it was a synch. A breeze. The best thing he’d ever done. He raved that he and his wife were the only ones in their age group who didn’t pull out glasses to read a menu. Wow, I was a believer!

So, off I went and signed up for the same procedure. I bounced onto the operating table and cheerily allowed the doctor to clamp my head  into a contraption that reminded me of the Silence of the Lambs. This should have been a warning sign!

My procedure wasn’t a breeze. In fact, it became a nightmare.  The following morning, I woke up, but could barely open my eye. The pain was excruciating. I clamped my palm over the offending eye as the slightest shard of light sent searing daggers through my brain. I dragged myself into the bathroom and saw that my eye was blood red– this couldn’t be normal. It looked seriously infected. Could the offending germ carriers have been 2 new kittens head butting me all night long?

My daughter India commented that she never thought she’d see her mother as a vampire – but she was right – I had to withdraw into complete darkness, curtains drawn, otherwise I would shriek in pain.

The doctor confirmed I had an infection. But once the infection subsided, my condition didn’t seem to improve. I still couldn’t focus. This generated a fair amount of panic as I realized that so much of my ability to focus mentally was linked with my ability to focus visually. Literally, I couldn’t think straight. It was maddening.

The bottom line is that my stubborn brain does not want to adjust to mono vision – which is what I elected to do to myself without fully understanding the ramifications – One eye, the dominant eye, is 20/20 and can see distance, and the other, the one I altered, can now only see up close. One’s brain is supposed to adjust to focus. But mine refuses to. So, the doctor gave me a contact lens to correct my vision back to the way it was originally. Which was a relief, as I could see again. But, now, I still can only read with my reading glasses.

Not only that, but I am one of those people who seems incapable of touching my eye, so I have not been able to put in or take out my contact lens. I have to drive all the way out to El Segundo each time I need to get it changed.

This ordeal has consumed the last 6 months of my life.

And the worst thing about it – I volunteered for this!


34 thoughts on “once i could see and now i am blind!

  1. Catherine,

    I understand what you went through. When I was going to have lasik surgery a couple of years ago, the Doctor gave me contacts to simulate what would happen. I elected not to do the surgery when my brain wouldn’t coordinate the two eyes together. Sorry for your pain. I use glasses now, and people have to accept me with them on, because that is who I am.


  2. It’s not nice losing their sight. When we make decisions that affect our integrity, it is hard to restore the ability of before. There is a God who loves us, despite the mistakes He helps us get ahead. You are very brave to tell us their experience. I know that having new capabilities, the difficulties will disappear. My advice is that you trust in God. We must chart a new path, God light your way. I encourage you to be positive, consider the new things that God has given you. You are very important to God. God loves you, and I admire you. A big hug and respect from Costa Rica. I send you my Greetings from Costa Rica. My Families of The Count Palatine Laterano Raimundo Ignacio Porta y de Solans/ and marchesse Ferdinando Della Porta of Naples, Italy and Count Antonio Della Porta, of Sicilia and Milan, Italy. Tüchler Meyer-Mayer Family of Bernhard Tüchler Meyer(Mayer) of Bromberg, Prussia, Poland, Germany and Romanov Royal Family of Russia.
    P.O Box(Post office box): 781-2200 Coronado , San José , Costa Rica , Central America .
    Email: ronald_porta@yahoo.com, ronald_porta@hotmail.com, ronaldporta@gmail.com, ronald_porta58@myspace.com
    With admiration, love, your friend from Costa Rica, Ronald Porta (Della Porta Tüchler)

  3. I too have thought of this surgery but every time I get my glasses they have trouble getting the prescription right. My brain won’t conform to the astigmatism correction. So this scares me from even trying the surgery. I hope yours get better with time or you may have to have more surgery. Bummer. Good luck.

    1. Thank you for your sweet message. I DID have another surgery to fix an astigmatism, it helped a tiny bit, but i figured i wouldn’t make the blog endless!

  4. As another woman who has reached the big 50 this year I wanted to hug you through the screen for sharing your story with us. I too started wearing glasses in the last few years. “Using the computer doesn’t help either,” my optician informed me.

    When I meet my friends for lunch we laugh as we all pull out our glasses. Another sign of the times. We’ve known each other since we were 18 and at university. Now we dread being the first one to break out in a hot flush!

    I’ve seen the adverts for corrective eye surgery on TV and didn’t feel it was for me…now I KNOW it isn;t.

    I wish you well Catherine and hope something can be done to improve your blurry vision. And what a sweet husband you have.

  5. You have been greatly missed – so great to hear from you. I’m sorry to hear what you’ve been going through. This blog had me crying through my mouth. Wait, I’ll explain. I always thought lasik was in my future as I occasionally need glasses at the theatre, cinema or tv. Not so much out of vanity, but more convenience and like you, I cant stand the thought of touching my eyes. That was until I saw the episode of 30 Rock where Jack (Alec Baldwin) convinces Liz (Tina Fey) to have eye surgery so she will be more camera palatable. It went horribly wrong and as a result she could only cry through her mouth. Hysterical but foretelling at the same time!

  6. i can totally relate. i have worn glasses since i was 8. when i was old enough i got contacts. over the years vanity has kept my contacts in and my glasses in a case.
    recently i too noticed that i had trouble reading and had to move the book far away to focus. i knew bifocals were needed but didn’t want to get them i didn’t think i could wear contacts and would have that ugly line in my glasses! so i prolonged it. one day i was reading something on aol and i said to my husband about this ball player dying. he looks at the article and says to me that this persona isn’t dead. i sat there nearly screaming and pointing to the letters (i thought) RIP. he looks at me says to go and get my eyes checked. the letters are RIB.
    it swear it looked like a p. an eye exam later i have mono contacts, glasses without the ugly line and i actually wear my glasses more because years of abuse on my eyes because i would not take my contacts out, i now have scars on my cornia.
    you are still a braver woman than i to at least try to have laser surgery.
    hope you are feeling better and glad to see you blogging.
    hope you and your family have a wonderful thanksgiving.

    1. OMG! I didn’t know that contacts could scar your eyes! That is terrible, I am so sorry to hear about your ordeal.
      And i will be sure to get my contact changed more frequently.

      1. thank you! wearing them while you sleep and never letting your eyes breath will do that after a long term period. i could make a 6 month box last 2 years. take them out at night or when they bother you. tough lesson to learn but now i am better and i can see. plus it didn’t hurt that for once i got a pair of frames i really love.

  7. So sorry to hear about your painful and frightening experience, Catherine. Somehow, though, it is a tribute to your deep spirituality that you can write about the experience in such a detached, analytical style, comment on various aspects of it, and even see (pun intended) some humor in it!

    As always, you are in our prayers, and please hang tough until some greater good can develop from what is presently most dreadful and frustrating.

    1. Thanks for ur kind words. In truth, i was was panic stricken for quite a while until i worked with a skilled facilitator called Nancy Salman. Only after a lengthy process of unraveling a lot of childhood trauma around my eyes was I able to get to the place where I could look at the worst case scenario dispassionately and go, “Ok, so let’s say i have permanently damaged my eyes, eventually i can learn to wear contacts and get on with my life.” And, even though the contacts are still a challenge, i am heading in that direction!

  8. Oh, Catherine! I feel your pain. Poor baby.

    I had Lasik surgery years ago, and it wasn’t quite right, but they did it again and it worked beautifully–for a year. Then I got pregnant. Twice. My feet got big and my eyesight got blurry. “Oh, yes, that happens sometimes,” my eye doctor told me. “Want to do the surgery again?”

    Uh, no. I’m happy with my almost-okay vision and my four pairs of prescription glasses, for distance, reading, computer and sunglasses.

    But the real question is, did you get that acting job?!

    1. Dearest Harley! OMG! Another eye nightmare! So sorry. I had the same experience during pregnancy, but only temporarily.
      Okay, so here’s what happened with the audition – Apparently, the director really liked what i did and put me on his short list – but then the studio decided to re-write the script and they put the whole project on hold. SO, there’s a long-winded answer to your question! You are hilarious!

  9. My dear Catherine. your blind persona was created close to a time that you were very angry at yourself by not seeing something. Catherine it is one persona out of many that you have. Do not forget that you are a great healer too. When we are creating a persona out of anger, the way to heal it is forgiveness and infinite love.
    Here is a way: sit in a quiet place, invite the blind persona to sit in front of you and say: I love you and I am sorry. Look at here and repeat it, until you will feel your words from the bottom of your heart, and then stop and listen, she will give you the right instruction to heal her, but please love her. I love you my dearest and trust your strength and healing ability.

  10. Cat,we twittered back and forth about this,and how I understand because I had the CVA and lost half the sight in my right eye.
    I’ll let you in on a secret,well it’s not really such a secret,I have AS (Ankylosing Spondylitis) one of the effects of AS can,and in my case is,frequent bouts of Iritis (a severe infection of the iris).
    Over time it can lead to blindness. Since my diagnosis in 2007 (onset in ’04) my prescription has doubled each year. This year it’s -375 in the right eye,the left is -300, legally blind is -400.
    I use the magnifying function on everything. Oh how I wish I could magnify my husband! Ha! I love to memorize his features while he sleeps,that way when the inevitable happens sometime in the not so distant future I’ll always remember how beautiful he is.
    My dear, I admire your bravery in letting your adoring public in on your struggle,it’s not an easy thing to do,especially when it’s something done voluntarily. You’re one of my heroines! Much love to you and the family!

    1. Rachelle, When i hear stories like yours, i am orbited out of my personal drama into a larger arena of compassion. You are the heroine, not !. Thank you for sharing your journey with me.

  11. Praying that your vision is back to normal now — and if not, then very soon! Have a blessed Christmas — and thanks for sharing your journey with us!

  12. Catherine, I’m soooo sorry to hear about your eye and vision. Can the doctor not give you glasses that are one prescription for one eye and another for the other so you can eliminate a contact?
    We have an amazing eye surgeon, Dr. Warren Reingold, in Studio City, he’s performed miracles on my brother in law and my Mother, so if there’s a way to turn it around for you, he might be just the doctor to do that.
    He’s at the Reingold Eye Center on Riverside in Studio City http://www.reingoldeyecenter.com/
    Hope you get some relief soon
    xo Carrie

  13. Welcome to the “I have Serbian Blood and Eyesight” Club. ‘Yippity Skippity’ said in my most sardonic tone. Caracticonis and Extreme light sensitivity here. I have no sight in my left eye. (Amblyopia as a child)
    This is the way we must think……IF we go blind, NEW ADVENTURE and we’ll plow through valiantly in the footsteps of so many wonderful examples of those on this planet have done without sight for millinea before us. xoxo’s

    1. Jeez Bunny! I don’t want to think of myself as akin to one of those antediluvian blind species crawling through the sludge of time!! Although I am feeling the ancientness in my creeky bones and blurry vision! I am so sorry to hear about your own visual horror story! You have a great attitude!

  14. It took me over a year to get used to sticking a contact in my eye! However it’s the lesser of two evils when the reading glasses are nowhere to be found. My prek students found a pair in the sand table once.

  15. Im so sorry !! I believe you will heal soon. 🙂
    Keep on practicing those lens changes after a glass of wine maybe?

  16. Catherine, as I read this story, I felt sorry for you and started thinking of a few words of comfort to put as a comment. But then I scrolled down to Casper’s comment, read it and laughed so hard that I fell off my chair.
    Anyway, having thought of no words of comfort, I will just say that I agree with Bunny. I belong to her club as well, more or less. I am short sited on the left eye.

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