As an ophthalmologist for an ext than 25 years, i performed cataract surgical procedure for well over half of those years. I counseled thousands of patients during that time on the benefits and risks that the procedure.

You are watching: Light streaks after cataract surgery

But when I to be diagnosed with "early" cataracts in ~ 55 years young, I uncovered that mine most daunting counseling an obstacle was myself. Because that one thing, i was currently considering going against the really advice ns usually gave my own patients.

I always was a very conservative cataract surgeon. This expected waiting until a patient's visual acuity to be at least 20/50 or worse before I had the serious conversation with them concerning possibilities of cataract surgery.


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Charles B. Slonim, MD, had his sight revitalized with cataract surgery.


During these consultations, many civilization with cataracts to be dismayed to discover that surgical treatment is their only option because that restoring sight. The eye's cloudy organic lens need to be removed and also replaced v an fabricated one, well-known as an intraocular lens or IOL.

Even as soon as I quit doing cataract surgery and also after more contemporary and safer actions were adopted, i would hardly ever — if ever before — seriously comment on cataract surgery with someone who visual acuity to be 20/20 to 20/25 as measured on one eye chart.

Many surgeons believe that any type of risk the cataract surgery complications, no matter exactly how slight, is too an excellent when you can still view this fine without the require for surgery.

However, mine recent personal experience teach me how the top quality of our vision can deteriorate with cataracts even when the eye charts tell united state that us supposedly can see "just fine."

Early signs Of Cataracts

At first, I started noticing halos about street lights at night and also glare indigenous bright lights during the day.

Before, I constantly had 20/20+ visual acuity without glasses. Yet cataracts were developing in both of mine eyes, with my ideal eye lot worse 보다 my left. In my test chair, ns still could see the 20/20 come 20/25 heat on the eye chart without lot problem. In other words — and also as ns would always tell my patients in the previous — ns supposedly could see "just fine."

But about a year before deciding to have actually cataract surgery, ns performed an extremely poorly on a comparison sensitivity test when a glare source (bright light) to be directed towards my eyes throughout the test. This method that scattered light and other interference from cataracts clouding mine eye's lens to be making it lot harder for me to identify objects from their background as soon as the contrast in between the 2 wasn't starkly black and also white (like letter on a traditional eye chart).

And closing mine left eye make me feel together if I had a piece of wax document in prior of whatever I saw. This view became even much more opaque together time go by.

During night driving, I had the classic symptoms the cataracts: see halos approximately lights and also headlights, and a little glow around street lights. The contrast in between dark-colored cars and the dark night background made it daunting to delineate the true summary of the cars in prior of me.

Notwithstanding this symptoms, the eye charts still stated I might see "just fine."

Lost comparison Sensitivity & Depth Perception

The main blurriness and haziness in my best eye had actually rendered me practically monocular or "one-eyed." I came to be left-eye dominant, due to the fact that I still might see v this eye, wherein the cataract was not virtually as bad.

My changed vision did not hinder normal daily activities. Yet when i performed operation procedures, i noticed the I certainly was slowly down because of loss of contrast sensitivity. Because I no longer can see well with both eyes, I likewise experienced diminished depth perception.

Even overhead lamp failed to illuminate the operation site as well as they as soon as did. Mine portable operation headlight likewise seemed to have lost several of its luminance.

These complaints i voiced in the operating room were similar to those I had once heard native patients with "early" cataracts who protested the they compelled a lot more light to read comfortably.

Outside the operating room, I found myself getting to for an old magnifying glass in ~ my workdesk when looking in ~ black publish on a colored-background paper.

If a girlfriend or family members member was standing in prior of a glass sliding door or bay window, I would certainly see just their silhouette through my appropriate eye without gift able to differentiate facial features.

But the eye chart still claimed I had 20/20 come 20/25 vision, and that I could see "just fine."

So i hesitated, and followed the advice I almost always gave my cataract patients. Like any other ophthalmologic professional, ns knew as well much about cataract surgery, particularly those "few and far between" complications. Why take any kind of kind of risk unless i absolutely had actually to?

And besides, I can see "just fine" — with occasional intuitive frustrations.

The last Straw: Time for Cataract Surgery

One late afternoon, however, mine sentiments adjusted drastically throughout a drive residence from mine office.


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Particularly if you space older, always have regular eye exams to examine for cataracts or other age-related eye diseases.


I was headed west right into a usual Florida sunset. Somehow, while ns was switching lanes, the sunlight peeked between the edge of my sun visor and my rear-view mirror simply inside the framework of mine windshield, creating a major glare that momentarily blurred out my check out of the roadway in former of me.

Luckily, no cars to be nearby, and also the occurrence did not affect my driving. But that was the last straw. Next time, i realized, I can not be so lucky. And the hazard of a steering accident that this sort far outweighed the now lot slighter threat of experience cataract surgery.

I am surrounding by fantastic cataract surgeons, so selecting someone because that my very own procedure was no at every difficult. I made decision Steve Updegraff, MD, that I had seen perform countless cataract surgeries.

But forcing myself come schedule the surgical treatment was almost as challenging as making the decision to have the procedure in the very first place.

It's True, physicians Make poor Patients

It's famous that medical professionals make horrible patients. Because that one thing, i knew far too much about the vulnerable body part upon which ns was around to have actually surgery. I likewise had checked out too numerous videos in ~ conferences that portrayed "things gone wrong" throughout surgeries.

No question about it. Ns was really nervous, even though i had total faith in mine surgeon.

I lectured myself around the prominence of being a "good" patient, and not among those dreaded "doctor" patients. I told myself that I would leave the selection of techniques strictly approximately Steve.

Even though i was complete of excellent ideas around variations in techniques that might help my surgeon accomplish the really best results, I determined to stand up to the temptation to offer him any kind of of mine many valuable insights.

In preparing for my surgery, I had actually my an initial complete eye exam. Like most emmetropes, I had actually never required glasses because that my street viewing; I needed only a pair that over-the-counter reading glasses, which I proceed to wear.


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My selection of a monofocal intraocular lens (IOL) vs. A "premium" multifocal IOL to be simple. My biggest complaints with the cataract to be glare and also halos. Because most the the visual complaints of patient who have premium IOLs result from the optics, ns didn't want to take the opportunity of continuing to have glare and also halos through a multifocal lens.

I actually became somewhat excited about the idea of trading my cataractous lens because that an aspheric IOL. I had actually been intrigued to check out that the optics of aspheric lenses might be superior even to those that the eye's organic crystalline lens.

Although mother Nature had done a wonderful job creating a natural lens that had offered me a fifty percent century of great vision, modern science has developed IOLs through superb optics best for concentrating light rays.

The Cataract Procedure

I got my preoperative eye drops, antibiotics come prevent feasible eye infection and a nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to regulate inflammation and also swelling.

On the work of surgery, when in the holding area, i asked for medication to patience my anxiety. However, i didn't want too much, due to the fact that I want to psychic the surgery and also recall as numerous details as possible.

I psychic the trip into the operating room and my surgeon saying "hello" to me. I got topical anesthetic drops, and also then i was prepped and draped.

Someone request me to look straight up in ~ the light, where I saw 2 thick, gray three-dimensional half circles contempt offset and separated through a space.

During the procedure, my whole view was a light-colored gray, together if i were underwater looking through the water. This view never ever changed. I listened come the sound of the phacoemulsification device and tried to see the transforms in my vision together my lens was broken up (emulsified) and also then suctioned out (aspirated).

Because of the brightness the the operating microscopic lense light, my view stayed virtually unchanged. My surgeon commented the my cortex (the soft, peripheral component of my cataract) was a little an ext tenacious 보다 he had actually expected native what he observed on the microscopic (slit lamp) eye exam. However everything was going fine.

My surgeon climate announced that my cataract was removed. Ns looked up at the moment, and tried to check out what vision was like without a lens (aphakic). Yet I still couldn't make out any kind of details. Every little thing looked the same.

When my surgeon announced that the aspheric IOL was placed into place, my check out still to be not much better. This was definitely disappointing, considering mine anticipation. Instead, the three-dimensional gray half-circles remained specifically as I had actually seen them transparent the entire procedure.

Then the drapes covering my face were removed. Once my operated doctor said every little thing had gone perfectly, ns was completely relieved. Ns looked about the room and noticed that my photoreceptors (light-sensitive cells in the retina) to be still bleaching out.

This condition results once a continuous light aimed right into the eye reasons the photoreceptors to job-related overtime, there is no a possibility to recover and replenish light-sensitive photopigments (chromophores). This create a temporary situation where the photoreceptors are "bleached" or left there is no pigment needed for an excellent vision.

At least, I could see images and also shadows in the room. The was absolutely satisfying.

My first Thoughts after Surgery

Because the the medicine I had actually been given, ns don't remember gift in the restore area for the obligatory 10 come 15 minutes. However my storage vividly restarts at the suggest where ns was sitting in the chair in the discharge area.

From the discharge area, I can see the holding and also recovery areas. V my ideal eye, these areas were absolutely bright. Through my left eye closed, I might see everyone walking around and also I easily might recognize them.

Distant pictures were still blurry. Unfortunately, I determined to look down at my identification wrist band and noticed that the "Charles Slonim" name was crystal clear.

"Oh
$#%&," i thought. "Now I'm myopic (nearsighted)! I have the dorn implant power. Who made a mistake!"

(Remember what ns said about doctors making terrible patients due to the fact that they recognize too lot — or think castle do?)

I to be agitated. Ns did not desire to be myopic after cataract surgery. I had been emmetropic (good vision without correction) my entire life. Ns wondered even if it is I must say something now, or simply wait. Ns was a doctor myself, after all, and also I had actually to obtain this straightened out.

Would i need one more procedure? ns hoped not.

I tried come recall whatever I could about clear corneal cataract surgery, the kind of procedure I had actually undergone. I reminded myself that corneal edema or swelling generally induces a myopic change until the resolves.

I determined I would certainly wait come say anything, although on the method home I continued to fret about the possibility of a much less than optimum visual outcome. However on the confident side, and also while i was busy second-guessing my surgeon, ns did an alert the color contrasts in the street were amazing.

Vision after ~ Cataract surgical procedure 20 20

By mid-afternoon, my vision quality had actually improved dramatically. Yet my intuitive acuity tho was less than expected. I want what the television and radio ads promised: "off-the-table 20/20!" ns was still much more myopic 보다 emmetropic, and I was unhappy about that.

But, every in all, my day of surgery was entirely uneventful. I took my prescribed eye autumn to stop infection and reduce swelling, and hoped because that the best.

I wake up up on the an initial day after ~ surgery and could not wait to eliminate my eye shield. Mine vision to be a little much more blurry than the day before, and also I tried to describe this as overnight corneal ede resulting from hypoxia (low oxygen) to the eye. Different components can reason this, consisting of stagnant tears that aren't blinked away during the night. Regardless of the cause, this kind of swelling can cause a greater myopic shift.

My near vision to be still quite good. I kept taking mine eye drops. And by afternoon ~ above the an initial postoperative day, the view through my right eye was choose nothing ns had ever before recalled seeing before: clear and colorful in means that also my ideal eyesight in younger years could not duplicate.

Outcomes on that very first day postop were:

Visual acuity, 20/25 (distance)

Minimal inner inflammation

My vision to be at least 20/25 before I had undergone cataract surgery. However this new 20/25 vision to be not only different, however amazing.

I equated my brand-new vision to the job I had purchased my first high-definition tv (HDTV). The was prefer looking in ~ the world on one HDTV with my appropriate eye and also an old analog (cathode ray tube) tv with mine left eye.

At this point, the "wax paper" sensation appeared to be in front of my left eye, i m sorry I had actually never noticed before the surgical procedure on my best eye. And also the left eye supposedly had been my great eye.

Clearly, i was no longer myopic. The sharp contrast between any two objects of various colors was absolutely outstanding. On my an initial and second days ~ surgery, it appeared that every hour was far better than the vault hour.

Driving at night to be visually amazing, too. My appropriate eye can delineate sharp outlines of a dark automobile on a dark background. I witnessed no halos approximately lights. Photos on the sidewalks and also even inside cars were decision clear.

One that the most dramatic images that ns saw at first was a Murano glass collection that we have in ours home. The glass is cobalt blue v 24-karat gold leaf designs and accents. This collection is versus a white wall. When I check this glassware v my ideal eye only, it appeared practically three-dimensional because of the nearly unbelievable contrast between colors.

And, to this day, my "monocular 3-D" vision has actually continued.

I had actually scheduled a complete day of surgery on my second postoperative day. It was such a satisfied to be back in the operation room and, this time, on the other side of the operating table.

The overhead lights to be so bright the I had actually them rotate down two levels. This to be not because of light sensitivity, but since I might see every little thing so much much better that i did not require the extra wattage. And when I necessary to usage my headlight for one case, the halogen beam had returned to a bright, white irradiate that i didn't recall noticing before. I also finished the day previously than scheduled.

My first "visual complication" arisen on the fourth and fifth postoperative days. Top top the 4th postoperative night, every point resource of irradiate (such as street lights, red tail lights, oncoming white headlights) had two sharply identified streaks coming off the light at 60-degree angles and also opposite at 240-degree angle — a brand-new phenomenon.

I started puzzling over what this meant, but I chose to wait the out prior to I panicked. By the eighth night, the streaks were gone. A temporary wrinkle in mine posterior capsule (the back component of the "bag" hold the eye's lens) probably had actually caused the problem.

At mine one-week postoperative visit, my visual acuity there is no correction was 20/15. My intraocular push was 19 mmHg. I had only a trace of interior inflammation.

Meanwhile, back At The Office

One month after surgery, i examined a 75-year-old woman who has been my patience for much more than 20 years. She had emerged "early" cataracts that I had been monitoring for more than a decade.

During she visit through me the previous year, this patient had 20/40 vision in both eyes and also moderate cataracts. I had actually previously documented how surprised i was that she could actually see as well as she did with her cataracts. The eye charts, minus any type of other type of testing, shown then that she might see "just fine."

And even on this day, she said me she could see "just fine."

But ~ above this visit, she vision was 20/50 in one eye and also 20/60 in the other eye, even though she said she still had actually no visual complaints.

She ended up being the first patient come whom i revealed that i recently had actually undergone cataract surgery.

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And this time, ns took an entirely different strategy when we had actually my conventional cataract conversation that had actually been brought up at various times during the past decade.

On this occasion, ns didn't indicate cataract surgery; i insisted that she have actually cataract surgery. I argued that she could advantage by seeing far better to drive, but I insisted the she required to view what ns was seeing to gain her life better, past what she constantly had embraced as see "just fine."