The third most common form of male denial—after erectile dysfunction and dying scalp follicles—is failing eyesight. (“My arms must be shrinking…”) Where there’s modern medicine, there’s hope. Here’s Dr. Barry Pascal, with his own personal tale of triumph. (You can find Barry‘s comedy books for sale here.)
By BARRY PASCAL, Pharm.D.
Humorist, Satirist, and All-Around Nice Guy
As we age, many things change in us, around us, and on us. We ignore or tolerate some of the changes and choose to fix others—hair color, eyelids, faces, chins, and our shapes, to mention a few. It is not surprising that husbands and wives may have differing opinions on what to fix and on whom—sometimes depending on who was supposed to get a new car and who was having their changes .
I finally had to have some repair work done. My cataracts (lens opacification) were affecting my vision. At night, oncoming car headlights were larger than the cars they were on and I was squinting all the time. Images were getting darker and darker, and it was getting harder and harder to see. It was finally time for cataract surgery, which included implanting artificial lenses.
The modern method used for cataract surgery, phacoemulsification, involves lens removal and replacement (artificial pseudophakic intraocular lens implantation). A tiny incision is made on the side of the eye and, after using an ultrasonic tool to break up the old lens and remove it, an artificial lens is inserted. The incision is so small stitches are not needed. The entire procedure took 15 to 20 minutes and there was no pain involved. Even though my eye remained bandaged for the first 24 hours, I was pretty sure I could see when I left the operating room. My eye was still dilated and a little swollen the next morning—so my vision was a bit blurry—but I could definitely see. After three days and post-surgery eye drops, I had better vision than I had when I was 30 years old. (However, I was still heavier than I was at 30 years old, and I still was unable to play the piano.)
I had been going to eye doctors since I first got glasses when I was 18 years old. (Diagnosis: Presbyopia—which would make an excellent title for a ’50s B movie starring Ray Milland.) Eye tests in the old days were relatively simple. The doctor would hold up his bill and ask:
Can you see the total you owe?
My eyes got so bad when I got older that I had to put on my glasses to talk on the phone.
Shirley always questioned the effect my cataracts had on my vision. Whenever we would get dressed up she would say:
You’re not really going to wear that tie with that shirt, are you?
I would explain that colors looked different due to my cataracts, and she would snap back with:
Not that different!
With my new lenses, everything looks clear, crisp, and colorful. I now realize that white is not a murky cream color and that, on TV, black and white movies are not sepia tone and gray. Colors look so different now that when my doctor took the bandages off I could not find my car in his parking lot. I can read so well without my glasses that I can now read the labels on all the bottles in the shower. I finally understand what Shirley has been complaining about these last few years—that lousy cheap shampoo I have been using turned out to be her expensive hair conditioner.
There are three major side effects I did not count on when I agreed to have cataract surgery. First of all, it turned out to be very expensive. Once my eyes adjusted and I could see things so clearly and colorfully, I realized that we needed new TVs in every room. Those new, expensive ultra high definition models are going to put more than a dent in our bank account.
Secondly, I did not notice the bags under my eyes when I was wearing glasses, but now—without glasses—they seem larger than my nose. According to Shirley, it turns out that I have always had bags under my eyes, but I never knew it. As a matter of fact, she reminded me that she has frequently complained that I came with “a lot of baggage.”
And lastly—and most disturbingly—everything looks smaller. This side effect has changed my daily routine the most. I will no longer go to the bathroom with the lights on. At the Valley Performing Arts Center last Thursday night, you could hear the yelling in the lobby when I turned the lights off to use the men’s room at intermission.
One interesting result of this entire process really surprised me. Women seemed to love the huge orthopedic UV (ultraviolet) blocking sunglasses the doctor gave me to wear for the first 30 days. Whether it is because it makes me look more mysterious, or whether it is because it covers so much of my face, several good looking and very well dressed strangers have commented on the glasses and asked where I got them. It is probably because I approached them and said:
I can see with my new lenses that you must have had a really good cosmetic surgeon, because you look just marvelous, darling—just marvelous.
About the Author: Barry Pascal, former North San Fernando Valley Honorary Mayor and former Honorary Sheriff, owned Northridge Pharmacy for 32 years and is now retired. He has written seven comedy books and writes a humorous column for the California Pharmacists Association Journal as well as the North Valley Community Connection. Pascal’s eyes are so good now that he stays home every night looking for needles in haystacks.
© Barry Pascal 2013