The Ayes Don’t Have It

November 7, 2008

The news about my colon was fairly good. The news about my eyes has not been so good.My eyes, never that good to start out with, have been deteriorating. I was recently diagnosed as having cataracts. The most grievous effect has been that my night vision has dropped to a dangerous level. At night, almost dark (dim light) is now just dark, lights shining in darkness are twice as glaring as they once were. It becomes close to impossible to read road signs and traffic signs while driving at night until I am impossibly close to them. Add driving rain (as we have had lately), and night driving begins to approach driving blind, especially as my job involves a lot of night driving in winter. I am trying to cut down the driving as much as possible in my three months leading up to retirement, but for various reasons that has not been very feasible.

The first eye doctor who examined me recommended that I wait two years before having cataract surgery. I got a second opinion from a more specialized doctor, partly because driving at night has become so dangerous and partly hoping to get the surgery paid for while I am still under fully employed insurance.

The second eye doctor told me that besides cataracts, I have damage to the blood vessels feeding my eyes, from years of problems with high blood pressure. Although my blood pressure is under better control, my history in this regard competes with whatever flaws in my body are likely to kill me a week from now or a decade from now. I am hoping to live until I retire at least because my pension is set up so my wife gets the full amount if I die. At this point in our life, this counts as my main “life insurance.”

In any case, I am not an especially good candidate for cataract surgery. It might go OK, but it might go awry. If it goes awry, I might need more surgery; my sight might get worse instead of better; it’s in the realm of possibility that I might lose my sight in one eye.

I will go in for another exam in a month. All in all, the best bet seems to be to tough it out until I retire and then avoid night driving as much as possible (and there should be little reason for driving at night most of the time, and even if I do it will be for short distances on familiar roads).


11 Responses to “The Ayes Don’t Have It”

  1. Yikes. I think it would be ironic in the most horrible way if you killed yourself driving home from the job that you somehow managed not to get fired from before retirement.


    That was a little convoluted, but you know what I mean. I suppose that’s the one drawback to your idyllic island life … no carpools.

  2. Corina Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your eye problems. Sometimes we take our vision for granted until something like this slaps us in the face.

    I have vision problems, too. Last night I was out after dark and I just couldn’t see well enough to go in a few instances and I had cars honking at me. I seem to have developed a problem in depth perception or something like that. I can’t tell which lane cars are in so I wait until there are no cars at all to enter a lane of traffic, frustrating drivers behind me.

    During a recent trip from Oregon to California, my daughter was literally yelling at me to speed up but I couldn’t see so I was going about 25 mph in a 50 mph zone, two lane road with no passing lane. The drivers behind me were not too thrilled. I got bright beams and tailgaters and other not so fun things. The was the longest and scariest ten miles I’ve driven!

    I’m with David. Don’t risk killing yourself before that retirement. That would not be good.

  3. pandemonic Says:

    It sucks to get old, doesn’t it? I have tri-focals. I’m not that old, but I think my body is disagreeing with me.

    If Mrs. Random’s eyesight is still good, I’d send her out in the dark and driving rain. Either that or wait for RG to get her license so she can drive you around. Only 12 or so short years away.

  4. modestypress Says:

    Our island does have bus service. It doesn’t run that often…it’s not unusual to have an hour between buses. On the other hand, it’s free.

    So that’s one alleviation. My depth perception (and my eyes in general) have always been bad, so I don’t think about it much and don’t run into things very often, though even once or twice in a year does tend to make everyone cranky.

  5. I have always put my obsessive reading down to the belief I had for a while when I was young that I’d go blind someday. I have a mental picture of my father, one of the last times I saw him, hanging his head out the window of the car while he was driving, before his cataract surgeries.

    Buses are nice, and completely underestimated, as far as restfulness, both in riding and waiting. I rode buses two hours a day for years, and paid through the nose for it. Worth every cent.

  6. truce Says:

    One of my worst fears is losing my (currently excellent) eyesight. I read and draw a lot, even though I rarely drive now that I live in a city again, so eye problems would suck.

    I sympathise.

  7. modestypress Says:


    I have at various times in my life ridden buses to work. There are, as you mention, excellent aspects to riding the bus. Unfortunately, one drawback is that crazy people ride the bus, and are drawn to me as if by a magnet. For example, once riding a bus in Portland, the man sitting next to me started to explain to me that he knew that Neil Goldschmit (then governor of Oregon) was under the control of the Mafia and that he (the person informing me) would be killed if he told anyone about this.

    Of course, he was telling this to a complete stranger on a bus, and for all he knew, I was a professional Mafia killer. Unfortunately, I was not so I just listened politely to his story.

    I could provide a month’s worth of blog posts just on the theme of “Crazy people I met while riding the bus.”

  8. Pauline Says:

    My father seemed to get in at least one accident every couple years. Our impression was that it was due to inattention, rather than poor eyesight, but I wonder now whether he might have had some undiagnosed eye problems. He wore glasses, and presumably got his eyes checked now and then, but I don’t know if there are some conditions that aren’t noticed until the patient brings it up. And of course he didn’t want to not be able to drive (my mother had stopped driving decades earlier). I was relieved in some ways when an injury landed him in the nursing home (which he never left) because it eliminated any possibility of my son riding in his car.

  9. Pauline Says:

    Sometimes his accidents were clearly due to inattention, by the way. Like the time he had visited my sister in Trenton and was looking at street signs and didn’t notice a stop sign – or the other car in the intersection.

    The time he hit the traffic light, though (one of those on a pole on an “island” in the middle of the street), we couldn’t figure out how he could have managed it except by miscalculating where it was and how sharply to turn the corner. And it was at night (on his way back from our house to my sister’s, so it was again an area he didn’t know as well as back home).

  10. modestypress Says:


    I have been involved in accidents due both to eye problems, including problems with depth perception, and due to inattention.

    At times as I am driving I talk to myself. “Pay attention!” I say to myself.

    Elderly people who don’t want to give up driving is a common problem in our society. At the least, my wife and I will yell at each other about it. My daughter, her partner, and our granddaughter can join in. Perhaps we will stop our car in the middle of an intersection and have a big dispute about it; allowing nearby drivers and pedestrians to join in the festivities. Perhaps a local television channel can film it all as a public service.

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