Last week I had a cataract operation and it was as if it opened up a whole new world. More than that, it ushered in a whole new me.
I’ve been near sighted all my life, wore glasses when I was under 10, contact lenses at 16, and still seemed to have poorer eyesight than other sighted people. I used to take along binoculars and felt that what sighted friends saw with their naked eye I could only see through the binoculars. Now, I believe I can see more or less what sighted people see, and I don’t need any equipment to do so.
When I first took off the eye patch the morning after the operation, the light flowed in, exactly as I had pictured it. Oh the light!
Yet the rest of the day I felt not only rotten physically but also a bit depressed. I worked out that it was all about transitions, which are difficult for me. I was about to have a new identity, and it was a big deal, a much bigger deal than I could consciously understand. It would take time until I could step up to the plate and happily be this new person, this person who could see clearly.
By the next day, I felt like someone who has been healed and thrown away their crutches. I threw away all of my millions of contact lens cases and contact lens solutions because I will never have to use them again. And each day, I’ve not only had a better picture of the world, as your sight improves day by day after a cataract operation, but I’ve slowly stepped into this new picture of myself.
Just the feeling that I am not enclosed in my near sighted world seeing differently than the people I am with is profound. It underlines for me the psychological effect of losing your sight, as I watched Sue Townsend do.
This change goes along with a willingness to look more.
I think when I was very young, either I decided not to see what was going on around me, and my eyesight suffered, or perhaps it was the other way around. I developed the inner eye and paid little attention to what my outer eyes were seeing, except for beauty. I’ve always loved beautiful things, whether it is the sea or a work of art. But I was never seeing them in detail. I just gasped at the beauty.
Now I sit on my balcony in Hastings and I watch people, I watch cars, I watch the changing colours of the sea, I watch everything. And they all look amazing in all their detail. It’s hard to say if I am seeing better than I was before with my contact lenses, but I am certainly seeing more, looking more, more part of the world out there.
This morning I had the image of having climbed a mountain, and that being at the top meant I could see 360 degrees around, and therefore could choose my new direction.
The most miraculous thing, I think, is that as we grow older, our physical capacities generally deteriorate, and yet in this one matter, I suddenly have a physical ability I haven’t had since being a young child.
I can only say, Thank You, Thank you, Thank you.