Grand Rapids, MI- It’s been exactly a year since I’ve had surgeries to remove cataracts from both eyes. The process took close to two months at the Verdier Eye Center in Grand Rapids.
In May, I went almost completely blind to a point where I could no longer drive or write because I couldn’t see the computer screen or the windshield. And that’s exactly what a cataract is- a dirty windshield or lights on the car. Some cataracts take years to develop, mine only took two years from the first consultation. They don’t necessarily just strike older people, which is also one of common misconceptions.
I couldn’t see the TV screen, so I couldn’t do my yoga practice. I cried hard. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to see my son Jake and daughter-in-law Maranda at their wedding on Oct. 25.
I knew Dr. David Verdier from earlier stories that I had written for Advance Newspapers and Gemini Publications about his worldwide work for Orbis. He is a well-known eye surgeon who brought to West Michigan subspecialty skills of modern corneal transplantation and external eye diseases, cataract removal and intraocular lens implantation.
Dr. Verdier is recognized by his peers as a member of The Best Doctors in America, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in Medicine and Health Care and Who’s Who in American Education.
As such other ophthalmologists have to recommend you to get to him. I asked my eye doctor Holzer that I want Dr. Verdier to do the surgery.
“You’ll have to wait to get in, but he’s worth waiting for,” said Dr. Holzer.
The whole process took several visits to the eye center, but it was well worth it. I overheard some patients waiting for the surgery say, that it is a frivolous surgery.
I would never call any surgery, a frivolous affair. It was done under local anesthesia and with an anesthesiologist present. The prep time for it took two hours.
Today, one year later I still don’t need eye glasses because Dr. Verdier also implanted lenses into my eyes that corrected the vision. I carry patient lens implant identification cards on me.
I am grateful to Dr. Verdier for his expertise and for “Taking my eyes to heart.” I even got a plant Kalanchoe to get well. Both, the plant and my eyes are doing well.
Here are the links to last year’s stories grouped in a mini-series “New Eyes with Dr. Verdier.”
Note: This is the fourth installment in the mini-series called “New eyes with Dr. Verdier” about cataracts and eye surgeries. It rightfully carries the bold title, “The Grand Finale.”
The series tracks Emma Palova’s journey from near blindness to new eyes with 20/20 vision. The third part “The Surgery” was published on Oct. 1.
The second part “The evaluation of cataracts” was published on Sept. 13.
The first part “Eyes set on Dr. Verdier” was published on EW Emma’s Writings http://emmapalova.com on Sept. 6.
The Grand Finale
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Grand Rapids, MI- I went into the second surgery even more scared than the first eye because I already knew what was going to happen.
“Each eye is different,” I remembered the anesthesiologist saying.
Dr. David Verdier previously informed me that he was going to adjust the lens for the left eye so it won’t see as far into the distance, but more close-up. That way the two eyes don’t fight, and the result should be a perfect 20/20 vision.
The fear from the surgery caused my blood pressure and pulse to skyrocket. I was sweating in spite of the fact that it was cold in the operating room. I had trouble dozing off under the local anesthesia.
I could feel the work done on the left eye and yellow balls and circles were dancing in front of me. I got a perforated shield on the left eye as well to protect the eye for seven days after the surgery.
When I was hauled into the post-operating stall, I could see my husband as clear as the night sky. Very sharp.
I was again the youngest person on the operating premises. Certain type of cataracts strike “younger” people, and unlike the regular cataracts they move very fast causing deterioration of the eyesight.
“It’s like a dirty windshield,” said Dr. Nathan Schlotthauer during the initial evaluation. “New layers keep adding on to it.”
At the height of the cataract ordeal that started two years ago, I could not see myself in the mirror or drive.
Resting in the post-operational stall, I was glad it was all over.
Dr. Verdier entered the stall, “It went very well.”
Next day’s check-up proved my 20/20 vision, and the technician was just as excited as I was.
“You won’t need eyeglasses,” he said.
I got the last schedule for eye drops that would run through Sept. 19. The medication schedule called for the tapering of prednisolone eye drops. Prednisolone eye drops reduce redness, burning and swelling.
As the AcrySof IQ lens implant adjusted in the eyeball, I could see orange circles on the periphery. Sometimes there was tension in both eyes, but the vision remained beyond expectations.
“You see like a hawk now,” said my husband Ludek.
The last appointment at the Verdier Eye Center was on Aug.22. The first evaluation was on July 11.
“You look great,” concluded Dr. Verdier after recording the case. “You have new eyes. We’re very pleased. You were an excellent patient to have.”
“I am ecstatic doctor,” I cried with joy. “I am a new woman.”
In two weeks I saw my referring eye doctor Dr. Holser back in Lowell, who confirmed the 20/20 vision.
“You probably will never need eyeglasses,” he said. “Dr. Verdier is the best. He is worth waiting for.”
A few facts about cataracts according to American Academy of Ophthalmology:
In a normal eye, light focuses precisely on the retina.
In an eye with a cataract, light scatters throughout the eye instead of focusing precisely on the retina causing cloudy vision.
Common symptoms of cataracts are: a painless blurring of vision, glare or sensitivity, poor night vision, double vision in one eye, needing brighter light to read, fading or yellowing of colors.
Most age-related cataracts progress gradually over a period of years, and may be different even between the two eyes.
Other cataracts in younger people may progress rapidly over a short time.
Surgery is the only way a cataract may be removed. However, if symptoms are not bothering you much, surgery may not be needed. Sometimes a simple change in eyeglass prescription may be helpful.
No medications, dietary supplements or exercises have been shown to prevent or cure cataracts.
More than 1.8 million people have cataract surgery each year in the United States. More than 95 percent of those surgeries are performed without complications.
During cataract surgery, which is usually performed under local or topical anesthesia as an outpatient procedure, the surgeon removes the cloudy lens from the eye. In most cases, the focusing power of the natural lens is restored by replacing it with a permanent intraocular lens implant.
The ophthalmologist performs the delicate surgery using a microscope, miniature instruments and other modern technology.
In many people who have cataract surgery, the natural capsule that supports the intraocular lens may become cloudy over time. I f this occurs, the surgeon may perform an outpatient laser procedure called capsulotomy.
Lowell, MI- On May 16th, my world dipped into a blur. The white fuzzy ball in my right eye turned into fog that surrounded me.
As I turned on the computer in the morning I couldn’t see the Google logo on the screen. I panicked. I drove to the eye doctor in town, but I couldn’t see the signs on the road.
“What brings you here on a Friday morning?” asked Dr. Holzer.
“I can’t see,” I said with tears in my eyes.
After the exam, Dr. Holzer said, “I see why you can’t see. You have cataracts in both eyes.”
I was diagnosed with a fast-moving cataract in my right eye two years ago. Unlike the cataracts that most elderly people eventually develop, this one strikes younger people at a fast pace.
“You will need a surgery in two years,” said the doctor exactly. “I cannot correct your vision to 20/20. This is worse than I expected.”
I cried that fall as I walked to the newspaper office. I could barely see the sidewalk.
The new eyeglasses helped somewhat, but the right eye was useless. I started using the left eye straining it further. Now, the fuzzy ball was also in the left eye.
I couldn’t see from the treadmill my beautiful garden. Everything became a chore. I had to use the magnifying glass on top of the eyeglasses, and still the letters were dancing in front of me somewhere in deep 3D. I had to guess where everything was or used to be.
So, here I was two years later sitting across from Dr. Holzer by the optical equipment in the dark.
“You’re going to need a surgery in both eyes,” he said.
“I want Dr. Verdier to operate on my eyes,” I said.
“You know Dr. Verdier?”
I did know Dr. David Verdier from a story for the Grand Rapids Magazine and Advance Newspapers about his surgeries aboard the Orbis airplane in China. Orbis is a well-known organization among eye specialists, and Dr. Verdier is a renowned eye specialist.
I was well aware of Verdier’s specialization both in corneal disease and cataracts, and about his practice. Verdier Eye Center, located at 1000 E. Paris Avenue in Grand Rapids. That’s where we did the interview for several stories.
“You’re going to have to wait, but Dr. Verdier is worth waiting for,” said Holzer. “He can also correct your vision during the surgery so you won’t need eye glasses.”
The initial consultation was scheduled for Sept. 22 to evaluate how far along the cataracts were.
In the meantime, my eyesight was getting worse by the minute. On the night of the first Summer Sizzlin’ concert, I was blinded by the setting sun as I walked out of the Sneaker’s Restaurant. That was at the beginning of July.
When I was shooting the Riverwalk parade on July 12, I could not see the floats or candidate Lynn Mason marching in the parade. I was shooting into the fog. My son was standing by my side with baby Josephine and I could hardly make out their contours.
On Monday, when I walked to the Franciscan Sisters I couldn’t see my neighbors doing wood on the other side of the gravel road.
“Hey Emma, we’re here,” Karen shouted.
At the Sisters, I couldn’t see the nearby school from their Canticle House on the hill.
Finally, I couldn’t see myself in the mirror. I picked up the phone.
“I have to have the surgery as soon as possible,” I cried. “I can’t write, I can’t drive. Tell Dr. Verdier that I know him.”