My mother has macular degeneration, a medical condition which results in the loss of vision at the center of the eye. Eventually it spreads outward and causes blindness. This condition makes it difficult or impossible for her to recognize faces and read the newspaper. Although she still has enough peripheral vision to allow her to perform the daily activities in her life, there are many other limitations.
She cannot drive, nor can she check her grocery bill to ensure the charges are correct. If she uses magnification, she can read the headlines in the newspaper, but she is unable to read the tiny print in the article. Needless to say, when my dad was alive, we would often find him at the kitchen counter with her, reading the ingredients of a recipe out loud, and helping her get the right measurement in the cup. Gosh, they made such a cute couple, the memory makes me smile.
During mom’s annual visit to the eye specialist, she asked him if removal of cataracts would help her vision. The doctor thought it might and immediately set up an appointment with another doctor to have the procedure done.
As the day of the surgery approached, my mother started to get nervous. She’d heard that cataract surgery could worsen the macular condition. Since she already had one eye on the verge of being declared legally blind, and the doctor was going to start with her good eye, she feared she could come out of the procedure not being able to see at all.
The surgery was performed on March 16th, the day of her 84th birthday. Mom left the hospital with cloudy vision, then fretted for the rest of the day that the cloudiness would remain, leaving her worse off than she was before. The next morning, we went to the doctor for a checkup and he reassured us that the cloudiness would pass.
That afternoon, as we prepared food for a small family gathering to celebrate her birthday, mom asked me to read the wrapping on a package of ham because she wanted to know if it was smoked. As I silently scanned the label, she started to read the ingredients out loud.
It was a miracle. She read the package ingredients, the numbers and words around the stove dials, then brought out the cookbook to see if she could read it, too. And she could. She immediately called her sister to share the good news. When I called her the next day, she had been sitting on the couch with her magnifying glass, reading the articles in the local paper.
I never would have expected the removal of a cataract to give my mom the gift of sight, but it did. Now she can’t wait to have her other eye done.
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For more information on macular degeneration, click here.
(Originally published at Women Unplugged.)