**This is a personal story told from a patient point of view, not for medical advice.**In January of 2014 I learned that my Retina Detached in my Left eye. It was a shock that just happened out of the blue without any conditions or circumstances which would normally bring this type of thing on. I was, otherwise, a healthy 35 year old woman! You can read the story about my detached retina and surgery HERE!
After the surgery I had a gas bubble in my left eye which basically kept me blind, only seeing light, for over a month and a half. As the gas SLOWLY cleared I could start seeing over the bubble. It took over 2 1/2 months for the gas to completely clear. This gas created a large cataract on my natural lens which made the vision in my left eye hazy and warped. I like to give the analogy of someone blowing hot air on a window and fogging up the glass as a similarity to what a cataract looks like on your natural lens.
Since January, for the past 8 months, my vision in my left eye has been horrible. I had to wait this long to make sure my retina reattached and healed properly before they let me have another surgery. When it finally became time to have a consult with a Cataract Surgeon I was pregnant with my 4th child. (See our birth announcement HERE!) My retina surgeon said that most Doctors wouldn't want to do any procedure on me while I was pregnant but he sent me for a consult anyways. I met with Dr. Christopher Ketcherside who came highly recommended to me in the Kansas City area. (If you live around this area, I definitely recommend him for cataract surgery!!!) After meeting with him the first time he really advised to wait until after I had my baby to have my surgery. I told him a few of my reasons why I wanted to have the surgery BEFORE I have my child.
- I want to look on my baby with CLEAR eyes when I see him the first time!
- After the surgery you have to take it easy for the first two weeks! The first week you aren't even supposed to lift anything over 20 lbs. This would be impossible for me since my babies are normally chubby and I solely nurse for the first 6 months of their life. This would push back the surgery for at least a year or more.
- Lastly, I maxed out my deductible in the beginning of the year with my retina surgery so I would have a lot less out of pocket to pay getting it gone in 2014!
After discussing all of these things with Dr. Ketcherside he said it was ultimately my decision when it came to doing the surgery pregnant or not! I then talked to my OBGYN about the procedure to see if she was concerned about anything. She brought up the fact that your eyes slightly change during pregnancy and that would be her only concern. She didn't seem worried about any of the eyedrops, used during and prescribed after, effecting my baby. You might not know this but it's not advised to have corrective eye surgery, like Lasik, while you are pregnant because your prescription sometimes changes.
Since I was concerned that I was making the right decision by having cataract surgery while pregnant, I decided to look it up online…. Maybe I could learn or feel more at ease if I knew of someone else who had the procedure done while they were pregnant. I literally found NOTHING! First of all, most people who have cataract surgery are over 60 so to find someone who was younger writing about their experience with the procedure would be rare in itself….BUT then for them to be PREGNANT! NOPE….nothing. It doesn't mean it's never happened, it's just that no one has ever blogged about it before and this obviously didn't help me feel any better. However, when I went back in to have measurements done on my eye they basically explained that just because I am pregnant the measurements they were talking to fit me with a new lens should still be accurate. I made my decision to have the surgery after hearing this information.
Now, that I knew I was going to have the surgery I had to listen to my options of lenses. This is probably your hardest decision because it will determine how you will see out of that eye for the rest of your life. I am only 35 so, Lord willing, I got a lot more life to live. My doctor said that because I was so young, I was a good candidate for the multifocal lens. I had heard bad reviews from a friend who works with a Retina surgeon so I was very against getting it. However, the doctor actually said that if he were me, this is what he would get for himself. Since he was the one doing the surgery I trusted his judgement and went with what he suggested! HERE'S THE CATCH, Insurance companies only cover a basic lens. If you chose anything else you have to pay for it. Ok, so what was I looking at!?! $2500 for one lens….paid up front!!!! WOW! I'm still in shock from that but how can you put a price on your vision even if you have the money or not.
Here I am, 6 months pregnant, on the morning of my cataract surgery. My husband and I were actually making jokes about taking pictures like this before cataracts surgery. "Who does this"!?! LOL "Hey, I DO…. because I have to blog about it." =)
Cataract surgery is normally a quick procedure done in about 10 minutes with just local anesthesia, however, because I am pregnant I did the surgery without any medication except numbing drops and one shot to the eye. I would say the hardest part to this would be the fact that you have to wait so long while they are preparing you for your turn. Getting your eye dilated and numb enough takes a while and I could see anesthesia helping to make time pass quicker.
Other than the waiting, the other part that I wasn't prepared for was the cover they put over your face for surgery. They make you hold your eye open while they lay a blue cloth like thing over your face. Then they press it to the eye that you are having the surgery on. They cut away a hole where your eye is but this sticky paper is what holds your eye open for the procedure. A nurse made sure to push the paper down all around my eye so it stuck REALLY WELL! You have a crazy urge to blink BUT you can't!!! The nurse was there squirting something in my eye every 10 seconds or so to keep it wet. The rest of my face and mouth were covered! Even though I had oxygen in my nose, I felt like I couldn't breath because the paper was touching my lips. I asked that she move it up a little from my mouth but it just fell right back down. I ended up using my tongue to push the paper off my lips. Now I know why they asked if I was claustrophobic before I went in the surgery room.
Once the doctor was there I felt a lot better cause I knew things were going to be over quickly. The actual procedure wasn't too bad. The shot in the eye hurt a little and the light was pretty bright but it was all for a wonderful cause. THAT PAPER AROUND MY EYE, HOWEVER,…… OMG... once everything was over it had to be pealed off, SLOWLY! That was the worst part of it!
I contemplated not putting this HIDEOUS picture of me after me surgery for the world to see but here I am …. I had to wear a clear eye shield for 24 hours and also at night for the first week to keep my eye protected.
After 8 months, it feels like the fog has been lifted from my vision!!! I think i am going to be satisfied with the Multifocal lens once thing heal. My eye still isn't perfect. I went in for tests the day after surgery and I was a little frustrated that I couldn't see better than what I was seeing. The doctor said that as I heal my vision should keep getting better. He also explained to me the importance of me keeping calm, not lifting anything over 20 lbs, and not bending over for the first week or two after surgery. When he did my surgery he made a little incision in my eye, cut open the "sack" that held my lens in it, pulled out my old lens, and then placed the new lens in the "sack". They don't stitch up the cuts made to the eye…. they just let them heal on their own. So if I lift something heavy or rub my eye, I could break the "sack" and my new lens could just fall back into my eye. SCARY!!! There is also a big risk for infection whig is why I have three different eye drops to use right now.
I know that there are many more young people out there with eye issues and there has to be more pregnant women along with that statistic. I hope that this will help to ease someones mind about having a procedure done while pregnant. At least in my personal case, my baby is still doing great! Because of my particular situation with my retina detachment, there are still a few more smaller procedures, with a laser, that I will have to go through after my eye heals. But I would say I am on my way to seeing "almost" as good as before everything started in January. I will keep everyone posted on my progress throughout the next few months. To all of my friends…. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and support throughout this crazy process. I couldn't have done it without you.