Worth a Thousand Words: I only have eyes for me

On Monday, I, for the second time in about a month, played chauffeur to my dad as he went down to Minneapolis in order to get cataract surgery done on his eyes. 

While this whole process is meant to be very simple, in watching him go through it, I realized it would probably be much more difficult for me and thus something I really hope I don’t have to go through.

Naturally, as a photographer I rely on my eyes greatly, so I want to take good care of them. But there is one major sticking point in that: I hate the idea of putting things in my eye. It’s one of the reasons why I never opted for contacts over glasses. I just get all squeamish at even the thought of having to put them in.

The same goes for eye drops. This is something that goes back to my early childhood. Growing up, my left eye was considered lazy and was considerably weaker than my right. While attempting to find a fix for the issue, the optometrist would want to put some sort of eye drops in. Well, I hated it so much it usually took my mom and a couple nurses holding me down to attempt to get the eye drops in. And since I was fighting them the whole way, they often missed, dragging out the whole ordeal.

I guess that kind of childhood “trauma” stuck with me my whole life. Fortunately, maturity has enabled me to, for the most part, get over that anxiety. I now don’t have a problem with having someone else put eye drops in, so there’s no resistance to having my pupils dilated in order to check for cataracts. 

But I will admit that all my optometrist has to do is mention that part of the exam and my eyes start watering. In fact, just in telling this story I find myself blinking a whole lot more.

But putting things in my own eyes? I still have a major problem with that. I remember one time a while ago a friend of mine offered some eye drops as a relief to an allergy attack. Well, I took the bottle, held it above my eye... and just couldn’t squeeze the bottle.

Circling back to my dad, part of the preparation for the surgery was three different eye drops being administered three times a day for several days prior to the surgery, and then again afterwards. Plus, each drop had to be administered at least five minutes apart from each other.

This process would be absolute torture for me. Even though I know it’s necessary for a successful procedure that would improve my vision, I just don’t know if I could pull it off. And as much as my family loves me, I don’t know if they would be willing to do it for me so many times.

Luckily, I haven’t shown any signs of developing cataracts. Plus, my eyes have followed roughly the same pattern as my dad’s, so it may be many years before I do. That should give me plenty of time to summon up the courage to actually go through with putting things in my eyes. Either that, or for technology to come up with an even better method of performing that surgery without all of the nasty pre-op preparation. 

Bill Stickels III is editor of the Isanti-Chisago County Star. He can be reached at 763-689-1181 ext. 107 or editor@countystar.com. 

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