Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nick's New Eye

Left eye lens implant 12/8/2011
Having trouble driving at night: headlight glare and 4-6 degree rainbow halos around small light sources; loss of contrast and fuzzy vision similar to dirty glasses. Black musical notes look grey. Diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes. Cataract means opacities in the lens which in advanced stages look white like water at the bottom of a waterfall. Hence the name. Modern cure for this eye disease is surgical removal of lens under local anesthetic and replacement with optically corrected clear polymer lens.

I made appointment with surgeon Harvey Fishman and after exchanging the secret Stanford handshake he told me more than I needed to know about the structure of my eye and details of the surgery. Using space-age diagnostic instruments, his staff measured lots of parameters of my eyes including corneal topography so that the replacement lens would give me perfect vision. Harvey is also the inventor of an iPhone app called EyeSnapi for taking pictures of the eye to email to your doctor.

I was very anxious about this operation because it involves being conscious while someone cuts opens your eye. Yet many people that I spoke to assured me that the operation was not unpleasant. During the operation I was conscious of a bright field of light containing three fuzzy rectangular objects and could hear and respond to voices but the operation was generally comfortable and not traumatic. In addition to the local anesthetic, nurses administer a sedative related to Valium thru an IV. The operation lasted about half an hour after which my friends Alan and Sun drove me home.

Recovery consists of administering lots of expensive eye drops four times a day and wearing a protective eye patch at night.. After a few days I have pretty good vision in both eyes but the size of the image in the operated eye is about 20% larger than the natural eye which still requires a corrective lens. My neural programming is rapidly adapting to the new eye and for most activities I can function just fine. Going down stairways is difficult--I sometimes perceive twice as many steps as normal beings. An informative account of recovery from this surgery by Charles ("Doctors make awful patients") Slonim, a cataract surgeon who experienced the operation himself, is here.

So now I am seeing the world in two ways, thru an artificial lens in my left eye and thru a natural lens in my right eye--a bit of a cyborg like Captain Picard who was captured by the Borg and transformed into Locutus, a human/Borg hybrid with artificial enhancements including an artificial eye. Thanks for my new clear vision, Doctor Fishman. Resistance (to artificial lens implants) is futile.

Captain Picard as the Borg Locutus

4 comments:

Jack Sarfatti said...

Best of luck in your recovery. I am not looking forward to that operation. Still a a few years off for me I hope. Also prostate. Old fartzas.

Les Blatt said...

I had both eyes done a couple of years ago, Nick. My most vivid recollection is how much bluer the world appeared right after the operation. Having spent a lot of time studying optical effects and color vision for my course on the crossroads of art and science, I knew that cataracts are typically of a yellow cast, so I did expect to see more blue -- but the magnitude of the change was much more than I had imagined.

Good vision, even if only of the physical kind, is important. Good luck with your recovery!

nick herbert said...

My most impressive improvement, Les, is not in color perception but in night vision. I can see like a cat--in one eye--and my fellow night drivers are much safer because of this operation.I eagerly anticipate experiencing "cat vision" in both eyes.

Apollion888 said...

Wow, Jack Sarfatti commented here! Nick, you know the coolest people.

May your sight be as clear as your Sight, or do I mean that the other way around?

Anyway, Locutus is the only named Borg, I think because the Queen wanted him for herself. I bet the universe is full of royalty looking for a mate.