It’s A New Day

I began wearing glasses in second grade. Mrs. Kelley, my first grade teacher, put me in the front row, but I still wasn’t close enough to decipher the cursive letters posted on green and white placards on top of the blackboard. When Dr. Roberts, the local optometrist, sent me out of his office with my first pair of glasses in hand, he strongly suggested that I leave them in my desk during recess. The first day I did that, and when I came back into the classroom, my glasses were no longer in my desk. When I told Mrs. Spangler they were missing, she immediately launched a search and destroy mission and found the them hidden a desk belonging to one of the boys—a notorious troublemaker. I’m pretty sure he’s the one who did the crime, but I’m not naming him here. I believe Mrs. Spangler conducted an illegal warrantless search, and at this point the alleged culprit has never been found guilty in a court of law.

But I had learned my lesson. From then on I wore my glasses to recess no matter what. And because glasses back then were made of … well … glass, my spectacles were broken on several occasions, often by the same person. A girl named Lucy Skoviak was the hands-down winner on that score. She broke my glasses three different times—once with a kick ball, once with a volley ball, and once with a softball. Trust me, none of those incidents were actually Lucy’s fault. Not only was I very nearsighted, I also had a severe astigmatism which meant that I had zero depth perception which explains why I was so bad at every sport that required interaction with a ball. I never saw one of those coming until the ball literally hit me in the face!

Over the years my eyes got worse and worse. For a time I wore contacts, but eventually my eyes went on strike as far as wetting solutions were concerned, and back to glasses I went. The lenses got thicker and thicker. Then in the mid-nineties, Bill and I both had Lasik surgery on the same day. By then my vision was 20/850 and 20/900. Our son, Tom, drove us to and from surgery. When we came home, it seemed like nothing short of a miracle. For the first time in my life, I could read highway signs without needing glasses.

The ophthalmologist who performed my Lasik surgery left me slightly nearsighted. That meant I didn’t require glasses for either reading or working on the computer, however I did need a distance prescription for driving, but considering where I had been before, that was barely a hardship.

And then time passed—twenty-five plus years–and I could see that my vision was once again going south. Bill is five years older than I am, so he had his cataract surgery several years ago, done by Dr. Michael Gilbert of the Northwest Vision Institute here in Bellevue, Washington. As I was driving him home from his second surgery, he said, “Hey, look. All those people on the sidewalk have FACES!” It made me wonder how long I had been riding around with Mr. Magoo at the wheel.

So a month or so ago, I bit the bullet and went to see Dr. Gilbert. Yes, cataracts were the issue. His office scheduled surgery in a way that meant my pre-op appointment was on October 27th—not an especially auspicious way to celebrate my 77th birthday, but went I did. I was anxious leading up to the first surgery which happened last Thursday, when they worked on my right eye. The left one was done this past Tuesday.

On Friday evening, after the first surgery, my vision was clear enough that I put my glasses down on the side table next to my chair, and there they remained for the rest of the weekend. Yesterday, when I was through the pre-op and awaiting the doctor’s arrival in the OR, I was able to read off the model and production numbers on the equipment he was going to use. Believe me, those count as fine print. One of the nurses actually checked the numbers to be sure I had read them correctly.

Yesterday after the surgery, the left eye was much blurrier than the right one had been on the day of last week’s surgery, but by this morning that had cleared up. The sun was shining outside the house and inside as well. When I went in for my checkup this afternoon I tested in at 20/30 and 20/40. That’s some improvement.

So today is a whole new day. I celebrated by coming home from the doctor’s office, picking up my glasses from the side table, and tossing them into the trash. No, I didn’t donate them. I loved the frames, but they had rhinestones on them. They had fallen off several times over the years, and since I’m six-one, a fall from my face is … well … a real fall. The plastic lenses didn’t break, but some of the rhinestones definitely went AWOL and, in my opinion, they weren’t worth donating.

So this is me offering an encouraging word to those of you out there who happens to be people of a certain age and are feeling as though the world is a whole lot dimmer than it used to be. It’s not. You probably have cataracts, and having them fixed may be worrying, but trust me—it’s worth it.

43 thoughts on “It’s A New Day

  1. My wife Sherbie had cataract surgery about 10 years ago at the Everett clinic in Everett WA. The young doctor was all professional and very good at describing the procedure. After the second eye had been done he relaxed enough to visit. He was born and raised is Lake Havasu City, AZ and went to U of A medical school. Small world. Oh, the vision was 20/20.

    • Hi dear friend. Yes it is a miracle this surgery. After a couple of months you may find blurry spots showing up like dirt on your glasses but it is on your eye. Do not fear, it is taken care of by laser zapping these spots created by “leaks”. This happened to me. I too had horrible vision and my Dr Fienerman of Newport Ca performed eye resurrection (cateract surg) . We need you to keep writing !?

  2. Your experience is encouraging as I approach a similar life changing event. My new glasses aren’t doing the trick and I don’t think it’s my optometrist’s fault. It seems I’m approaching the point where whatever cataracts are there are getting bad enough so that I can get the surgery. Everyone I’ve talked to has had a good experience and I look forward to looking at the world as it really is LOL again. Congratulations and I’m so glad that you have a new view of the world

  3. My eyes aren’t as bad as yours, but cataract surgery is in my future. I put it off to nest spring since Covid is bad around here and my ride is pretty busy this time of year.

  4. Very happy to hear, J.A. It must be really nice to see the world and all it’s beauty without correction.

  5. I had my first cataract surgery in 2009 – my 2nd this past Aug. 3. ,my vision has been horrible and worsening for well over a year, but tho I could barely see, I was told the cataract wasn’t yet “ripe” enough for removal. When my opthalmologist retired, I signed on with a new one. She told me while just at the borderline stage for surgery, she’d do it if I wanted. I wanted!!!

    I’m reading and doing close work with no glasses for the first time in my memory. I can actually see the cars,I’m interacting with rather than gray blobs. I can read license plates. I’m so very grateful for the doctors who make these miracles possible.

  6. Enjoyed reading your account of vision problems…thanks for the encouragement…planning to get catarac surgery next spring in my hometown…busy enjoying the sun now.

  7. I absolutely agree about cataract surgery making a huge difference. As of this past Tuesday I have had both eyes operated on in the last 2 weeks. What a difference it has made. I had forgotten how vivid colors can be! My niece was driving me for my post operated and a plane was approaching to land at the Charleston Airport in SC. I saw big letters reading JetBlue on the side of the plane, so clear! I looked over at the speedometer and quickly looked away because for the first time in a very long time I could read the numbers! My niece tends to have a lead foot but she gets it honest from her Dad. Before I could see the blurry needle and knew we were going fast, but I could see how fast now. Probably not a good thing. Glad we can now both see much better!
    I will probably need glasses to read but my vision is so improved.
    To everyone out there, I agree with Judy, if you are having more trouble seeing and things look dull, go ahead and take the plunge. You will be able to read all about JP Beaumont, Ali Reynolds, Joanna Brady and the Walker family so much easier! It is worth it just to be able to read JA Jance books, if nothing else!

  8. I too had my cataracts done..After a few years my eye Dr said I have 20/20 vision . I notice I still need a little help with those dollar store reading glasses..Someday you may have those glasses next to your chair again?Look forward to your blogs. Met you at Franklin College in Franklin In. a few years ago..?

  9. I too had my cataracts done..After a few years my eye Dr said I have 20/20 vision . I notice I still need a little help with those dollar store reading glasses..Someday you may have those glasses next to your chair again?Look forward to your blogs. Met you at Franklin College in Franklin In. a few years ago..?

  10. Must be catching. ? I too will be having cataract surgery sometime in the next year.
    I live in the mountains east of San Diego in California. Last Friday, I was driving home from the funeral of a friend that last lived in Scottsdale. She is the friend that first introduced me to the worlds of J P Beaumont and Joanna Brady. Ali Reynolds did not yet exist. My friend lived less than 5 miles from The Poisoned Pen book store. So I would time my visits to match your book signings. We would go to the store, buy the books, put markers on seats in the first row, go to a nearby Mexican restaurant for dinner and come back. Due to Covid, I hadn’t seen Joyce since 2019. I friend and I miss book signings too.

  11. I had fairly bad cataracts at 52 which I got rid of with supplements, then I got glaucoma, more supplements and before you roll your eyes I had the same lens prescription for 15 years and I still have all my peripheral vision! This year I had to move up one step in my left eye but the right eye is still the same. My eye doctor keeps poo pooing my vitamins but I just smile and ask him how many other patients he has without a lens change for 15 years. At some point I expect I’ll end up with surgery too but not yet.

  12. How wonderful that the surgery has helped so much! I had mine done in June and July, and, while I have to have multiple pairs of glasses around the house for reading, writing, computer, and music playing, I AM looking forward to being able to see in the wintertime when I’m out walking. Before, when it would be 25 below (or colder) I would need to wear a balaclava so my face wouldn’t freeze. That would cause my glasses to fog up within seconds, so I’d have to go without glasses, which meant I wouldn’t recognize people, and would have to navigate by avoiding the shapes of whatever I encountered. I’m excited to see what outdoor walking will be like this winter.

  13. We must be vision twins! I had my eyes “done” in January. Just be aware that things may change; I now need my glasses again for everything but the computer and books.

  14. Congratulations on “no more glasses!” I had Cataract surgery some years ago, having put it off to the point of barely being able to see, and wondered afterward why I had waited- It is truly wonderful to regain a sense-

  15. I started wearing glasses before first grade. Mine were never stolen but were broken often. My grandfather would soder the nose piece. So I often wore glasses with a hunk of silver soder gook holding them together.

  16. Glad the surgeries were successful! I had cataract surgeries in 2017…but because of my Ramsay-Hunt, I have chronic dry eye, so I can see pretty well but my left eye constantly waters so I look like I’m crying all the time. Very happy for you!

  17. I can relate to having to wear glasses since my youth, fourth grade. When in my 40’s I started wearing one contact for close up. My distance sight was fine. In my fifties I needed correction for distance. I tried one contact for closeup and one in the other eye for distance. I found that uncomfortable so back to glasses with bifocals full time. Now in my 70’s I found I needed cataract surgery. I went to a local ophthalmologist for surgery in the first eye. A few days after surgery I noticed a half moon shape in my eyesight in the surgical eye. I questioned my eye surgeon about it at my one week follow-up checkup. He said it wasn’t unusual and would soon go away. Two weeks after the surgery it was still there so I started research online and found that it sometimes happens and is actually medically called “Negative dysphotopsia”. The lengthy research showed that sometimes it doesn’t go away and additional surgery may be needed with a different size and/or shape of the lens implanted. When I talked to my surgeon again he acted like I was imagining things. Since the shadow in my eye was very distracting and made it hard to drive I decided to seek a second opinion. I went to another more specialized ophthalmologist in a bigger city about 45 minutes away. He first tried repositioning the lens (another surgery) but it didn’t work. So he ended up replacing the lens with a larger and different shaped lens. That surgery was successful so I had him do the cataract surgery on my other eye. I have great vision in both eyes now but I’m writing about this situation in case one of your readers finds themselves in this situation. From what I read online you might have to be your own advocate and find another eye surgeon to correct this problem. I read many stories about people that went through this and many had to find another eye surgeon on their own because the original doctor would not acknowledge that there was any problem. One man actually hired a lawyer to get the correction paid for as his insurance would not pay for the surgery since the eye surgeon would not admit there was a problem. It was a nightmare going through this but I’m thankful now that I had the persistence to find a doctor that actually was familiar with the situation and knew how to correct it.

  18. Wow! I’m so glad your eye dilemma turned out so well!

    I’m 73 and have needed lenses since 5th grade, since I was half legally blind. The lenses kept getting thicker as my eyes got worse each year. But, thanks to my grandparents who bought me my first pair of hard contact lenses in my junior year of high school because they didn’t think I’d attract a mate in my glasses (!!!), my eyes actually improved over the years. I haven’t had my glasses lenses changed in forever, and I see 20/20 with both eyes.

    That was 1965 and I’ve worn the contacts ever since. AND—my eyes are so good now that on some days my vision is good enough to drive without lenses. I’d never do that, tho!

    I had wetting solution problems over the years because they quit making the solution I needed for my sensitive eyes, but through research I’ve found a solution and I wear my lenses every day for at least 7 hours. I love them. My eye doctor (in the 60’s) told me that I would no doubt forget about them once babies came along. Sheesh! No sir. I’d wear the lenses 12 hours at least a day then.

    But where this is going is that now I have no problem with cataracts. Wonderful. But it’s also wonderful that medical research and technology has improved so much over the years.

  19. Several years after I had cataract surgery, which I consider a non-surgery, by the way, because it’s so easy, I developed a secondary cataract in one eye. It’s a very common occurrance, I was told. It took a long time to develop enough for surgery, which is 5 pings with a laser in the doc’s office. The doc said it would be blurry for 10 min., which is exactly what happened, & I was amazed at the difference! It was greater than after the first surgery. Am now waiting for the secondary cataract in the other eye to be surgery ready.

  20. While I am sure when I am older I will have cataracts, I have been happy to be one of the lucky ones who haven’t needed glasses. On the precipice of the half century mark and can still read the smallest size print.

  21. Between arthritis in my hands, knees, back, completely white, sparse hair and a struggle with the bathroom scale, cataract surgery has been the one thing that really put the “golden” into my Golden Years! I wore glasses from 11 on and now I no longer need them. It’s been a real joy. I didn’t know one could see actual leaves on trees! To me, they were just green blobs. So Judy, enjoy your new glasses-free lifestyle!

  22. You made my day! I was in the 1st grade and always was sitting in the back row as even then, I was the tallest kid. I would walk to her desk and read/and memorize what was there. She finally noticed and told my mother on the next visiting day. The eye doctor gave me new glasses and I promptly walked out the door of his office and fell off the curb to the car as I was admiring the leaves overhead! There were 2 boys taller than I was by the time I graduated. Didn’t go back until my 50th alumni meeting and discovered that practically all of the guys there were taller than I was. Late bloomers!

    • As we were being measured for graduation gowns in high school, almost all the boys claimed to be six feet tall. Since I hit six feet in seventh grade, I knew they were making that up!

      My soon to be sixteen year-old grandson is now six-three. He told me a few months ago, “Okay, Grandma. If you need help getting things down from the top shelf, here I am.”

  23. I got my first pair of glasses in first grade and followed the same progression as you. When I went for Lasik surgery in 1997 the opthalmologist told me that my reading was “meaningless” because anything over 20/2500 was essentially blind…. I left my second surgery with 20/25 and 20/30 in my right and left eye. It was a MIRACLE! My optometrist says my cataracts are not yet bad enough to require surgery so I’m holding off, but I may just press her after reading your posting.

  24. I had my cataract surgeries last month, however, I’m only 49. I was born with my cataracts & have always known it was coming. Because I was “too young” though, insurance wouldn’t pay for them until they “negatively impacted my daily life”. Totally dumb. I was so excited this year when I finally got approved! I also had a severe astigmatism & was 20/900 & 20/850, with nearsightedness.
    Now I’m 20/16 with farsightedness! I need reading glasses now, but don’t mind at all. They also seriously lessened my astigmatism.
    I’ve worn glasses since kindergarten, so this has been life-changing! It’s completely a blessing that I’ve waited for for 45 years. It’s fantastic!

  25. AS I’ve said before, Friday’s are Morse special that they’ve ever been because of these wonderful blogs. I am fairly new to the adventure each week. Nonetheless,
    They have been a wonderful way to revisit my childhood. I find that I’ve had similar experiences through my school days. The blogs have stimulated writing skills that I didn’t know I had. Today, those of us who are older, have the comfort of knowing that cataract surgery is not to be feared but encouraged, if needed. In all, Fridays are days when I can once again feel normal and encouraged. It’s not always easy when you get older and need certain “repairs”.

  26. Great post! I also encourage cataract surgery. I had my left eye corrected for near vision, and the right for distance (like your glasses). So easy. I had a Valium for the procedure and it was easy peasy.

  27. I’ve worn glasses since I was 2-1/2 years old. My mother was impressed about how the ophthalmologist worked with me about being a “4-eyes”. He told me to put them on IMMEDIATELY when I got out of bed and I did. I got out of bed – eyes tightly closed – and put my glasses on. Only then did I open my eyes.
    I have monocular vision that we guess is the result of amblyopia (lazy eye). There were no corrective exercises or eye-patching available back then so, I too have never seen an object coming at me until it hits me in the face!
    Now I’m facing cataract treatment; so far it’s a minor inconvenience so I’ve been putting it off. Thank you, Judy, for your positive, encouraging words about cataract surgery. I think I’ll schedule that after my next annual eye exam!

  28. Thank you for writing about this. I have had glasses since 3rd grade. I’m near sighted with astigmatism and myopia. I developed a cataract and just found out cataract surgery is very risky for people with myopia. So for now I depend on my strong 20/20 eye with contacts.

  29. I’m having my cataract surgeries done in late Nov. and early Dec. but I will donate all my old saved glasses. They don’t necessarily even use the frames. They put whichever lenses fit the eyesight together (within reason). I also have severe Myopia and cataract surgery will correct that and even most astigmatism. My eyes are both over 9 Diopter.

    • I also have myopia and I am interested to hear how your surgery goes. Best of luck to you.

  30. Don’t you wish you’d have bitten that bullet sooner?
    I’ve worn glasses since I was 2. After cataract surgery I tested 20/20 and 20/25.
    For the first time in my life I’d ever been able to get my driver’s license without the restriction of having requiring lenses. But for up close reading it did seem better wearing glasses. Those cheap readers. Peeking out the top of them looked really stupid.
    Both my husband and I had our cataract surgeries the same month. We were both so accustomed to not wearing glasses we just looked, well, weird! And the “bags” under my eyes were much more prominently obvious.
    So we’ve both opted to wearing progressive lenses. Perfect! Biannually I gift myself with a new pair. Sometimes sunglasses or tinted, for my birthday.
    Happy yours all went well for you.

  31. The day I got my cataract surgery was the day they then discovered I had wet macular degeneration, leading to and several years of (ugh!) eye injections. Not the best day of my life! Bob Glass

  32. I just found out Wednesday I need to have my cataracts removed. I am scheduled for early January.

  33. About 10 years ago, when she was 85, my mom got her first cataract surgery. Emerging from the ophthalmologist’s office, she was amazed and enchanted by how colorful the world had suddenly become. However, on retuning home she discovered that her back bedroom, which she’d recently had painted in what she’d thought was a “lovely shade of spring green”, was in fact a quite lurid shade of chartreuse! Just a small cautionary tale for those considering paint choices before cataract surgery! ?

  34. Not only did I start wearing glasses in like second grade, my vision had gotten bad enough by sixth that I needed separate reading glasses. My optometrist knew me too well and gave me bifocals instead of a second pair of glasses, so at age eleven I went from being “four eyes” to “six eyes”

  35. So happy to hear of your successful eye surgery, for both you and your husband.
    I have been enjoying your books for years, and now your blog.
    I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  36. Your posts are a life saver for me every time I get one..I save them all so I can go back and look at them again and again. I love that you send them…one of the true miracles of Covid…having you share all kinds of things about your past, your working life and just stuff.
    I got my cataracts corrected last year and it was revolutionary! The words were getting dimmer and dimmer…which wasn’t great since I paint as well as read. Your words about trying to use contact lenses really got to me..I remember trying to get one from beneath my eyelid…a really tortuous experience.

  37. Oh dear J.A. Jance. Your experience is mine when I was in elementary school. I had lasik surgery, but still needed glasses. Then when I was around 60 an epiretinal membrane made me lose vision in the left eye. Now my good eye has a cataract, but the ophthalmologist says it’s not ready to come off. Makes reading and driving difficult. My fingers are crossed that some day soon I can have that surgery and see again like you can. Thanks for giving me hope.

  38. I had a classmate in grade school who was so excited to get new glasses. On the way home she asked her Mom what those things were on the roofs of houses? She had never seen the chimneys before!

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