Getting Yagged

About a decade ago, I began to have trouble seeing at night. Everything I saw was occluded by a yellow and gray fog. I had cataracts. The lenses in my eyes were kaput. Cataracts was a word I heard almost every day growing up, because my father was an ophthalmologist.

The standard treatment for cataracts is to remove the lens and replace it with an artificial lens. The details sound gross so I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say, the power of the replacement lens can be chosen. It’s a bit like getting a contact lens implanted in your eye.

In my case my cataract surgery allowed by eye doctor to correct another problem. I had had surgery for a detached retina that left me much more nearsighted in my left eye than in my right. This caused some depth perception problems that could only be corrected by wearing one thick lens and one thin lens in my eye glasses.

During the cataract surgery the doctor chose different powered lenses to rebalance my vision. The result was pretty darn amazing. After the surgery I could see better than I had since I first got glasses in third grade. The yellow/gray haze was gone.

About a year later, my vision got cloudy again. This is called a secondary cataract. It is not caused by a defect in the lens itself rather it is cause by a build up on the membrane or capsule in which the replacement lenses are situated. The actual name of the surgery is posterior capsule opacification.  Something called a YAG laser is used to remedy the situation. I don’t know what YAG stands for, but it sounds pretty cool. Actually, it sounds a bit like a Dr. Seuss creature. I had both eyes yagged (it really ought to be a verb).

Last month I thought I needed new glasses. I just couldn’t see right. The doctor examined me and found that my right eye once again had opacification. So today I got yagged again.

My eye exploded and juicy bits went all over the office. It was GROSS!!!

Okay, I am kidding. I had three drops put in my eye. I waited ten minutes. I sat in a chair with my chin resting on a cradle. I held onto to knobs to keep myself still. The doctor used his machine to put a little white thingie about the size of a kernel of rice in front of my face. “Keep your on on this. Don’t move.” The doctor used his YAG laser to zap my eye. All I could see was two red lights, one on top of the other. I’d hear a click when I got zapped by the YAG. Then the doctor moved the light a tad and zapped me again. It didn’t hurt at all. In fact, it was over in a couple of minutes. I rode my bike home (with sunglasses on because my eye was dilated).

I am the only kid on my block who’s been yagged three times.

Postscript: According to Gaines, beer, wine, and science adviser to the Rootchopper Institute,  YAG stands for Yttrium Aluminium Garnet. Which is really helpful because we all know what yttrium is, don’t we? (It’s on the Periodic table with the designation Y and having an atomic number of 39. Which shows you how much I learned in chemistry in high school. I’m pretty sure that @bobbishaftoe could help here but she’s in hiding until the midterm elections.)






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