Color My World… Vivid

Vivid Plumeria

Like so many changes we experience as we age, this one occurred slowly, over time. I’ve worn corrective lenses for distance vision since I was in my twenties but was able to read even the tiniest fonts close-up, without glasses. Several years ago, I became aware that my corrected distance vision was becoming less clear. Driving at night, I saw starbursts from the lights of oncoming traffic and, even during the day, road signs were harder to read. I also started to have problems reading print. Type that had always been crisp and clear was now blurry. I tried cheaters but they just magnified the blurs.

A visit to my eye doctor confirmed my suspicions: like so many people of a certain age, I was developing cataracts. He said that there wasn’t much he could do by adjusting my prescription, but the cataracts weren’t quite bad enough to warrant surgery… yet. 

Surgery isn’t normally something I look forward to—I’ve had a few and none have been voluntary or enjoyable—but I was anxious for my vision to get bad enough to have my cataracts removed. I knew several people who had the surgery, and they told me it was no big deal. Painless. Almost instant improvement.

Finally, earlier this year, my sight was deemed sufficiently deficient. In late October, I had surgery on my right eye and, two weeks later, my left. Just like I was told, the surgery was quick and easy, and the results were immediate. My foggy vision was gone.

Here’s what they didn’t tell me: as my eyesight had gradually gotten more and more blurry, cataracts also impacted my perception of colors. Over the years, so slowly I didn’t even notice it, my world had taken on a yellowish hue.

After my initial surgery, the colors I saw through my corrected eye were much brighter and more vivid than what I saw through my other eye. The blues were bluer, the greens, greener. The white walls of our living room no longer looked like they needed re-painting. When I looked at the view from our back deck, it sparkled, just like it used to. Suddenly, I was seeing things as they are, not as they appeared through a dingy lens.

During the two weeks in between surgeries, I kept shutting one eye, then the other, marveling at the difference in color perception. I felt a bit like Dorothy opening the door in her sepia world and entering a technicolor Oz (okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but…wow!). 

Prior to my second surgery, I thought it would be interesting to document the before and after as best as I could so I wouldn’t forget what my washed-out vision looked like:

Vancouver, Canada, before and after cataract surgery.

Thanks to the miracle of cataract surgery, my world is vivid again.

Check out other examples of Vivid at Terri’s weekly Sunday Stills challenge.

Copyright © 2023 RetirementallyChallenged.com – All rights reserved.

Author: Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

116 thoughts on “Color My World… Vivid”

  1. Congratulations on your new vision. You described my experience perfectly! My optometrist told me for several years that my cataracts weren’t bad enough for surgery. I was seeing a pyramid of three moons, three stop signs! And I was driving. I went to my retinal specialist and he recommended an ophthalmologist who specialized in cataract surgery. I wish I had done it sooner!

    1. First, congratulations from me as well on your (re)new(ed) sight! I think this experience is absolutely fascinating: I was always curious, since I was a wee girl, on whether different people’s eyes see colors differently. Maybe what I perceive as “blue” you see as “yellow”? We’re always going to agree that the sky is blue (on a clear, smokeless day), and that the sun is yellow (again, no smoke!), but maybe what you call “blue” is what I call “yellow”?

      The sky in your photos is of a different hue, so I’m thinking… maybe so?

        1. Those ponderables remind me of one a friend shared with me this morning, something along the lines of: why is it that time travel worries us because we’re concerned that the slightest action might change the future forever, and yet in the present we often hesitate before taking the slightest action? 😀

        1. Yes, the wave length doesn’t change, but the meaning of the words might? I noticed that at work that we tend to use the same words and don’t understand why we aren’t “agreeing”: many times it’s because the words mean different things to us. We’re both saying blue, but one of us means blue, one yellow with orange polka dots 😀

  2. This is wonderful. I am pleased that you’ve experienced such a change in clarity. It give me hope that when the time comes, and I know it will, I’ll have the same results.

  3. I was having big night time driving issues so I pushed the envelope for the surgery. I don’t know why they were “waiting.” I experienced major color change. As soon as I came out of the surgery I saw it. All the way home (I was an hour away) I worried whether I would like the colors I painted my new house. And the wallpaper. Fortunately it was even better. “They said” I could wait for the second eye but I had it done a few weeks later. Not as much of a change but worth it. There are some other changes too but overall it was so much better. I could drive at night again.

    1. I’m glad you had a good outcome too. I don’t know why they wait so long to approve it, but so many of us feel unsafe driving at night for too long before we can have the surgery. The only bummer about the clearer vision is that it’s now more obvious that my windows need cleaning 🙂

  4. You are now the official poster lady for cataract surgery, Janis! When the time comes for myself, I’ll remember your favorable experiences – I’m a chicken when it comes to surgery, especially when I’m guessing one can see the initial shots to the eyes…yikes!

  5. I’m so happy the theme vivid inspired your post that describes the difference in how you see the world again, Janis. I’ve heard as we age, cataracts become more commonplace, and surgery is recommended. So far, I’m clear with a mild vision prescription for distance and reading. Hans is in line for this surgery, however. Your plumeria image is stunning! And how telling to see your versions of the difference between the Vancouver skyline from your two perspectives. Cataracts and other vision issues are slower to manifest and we don’t always realize there is a problem. Glad your vision is clear again!

  6. I remember that very same thing Janis. Some things were so bright and vivid and astoundingly pretty that I was confused for awhile. I kept thinking *did they put the ultra expensive lenses in and not tell?* It was like magic!

  7. That’s what everyone says about cataract surgery, Janis. My husband had it and loves it. I haven’t had it yet. Like you, my eyes aren’t bad enough yet. I had lasik about 15 years ago, so I know the feeling of being able to see again!

      1. It wasn’t bad, was it? I am a little nervous about it because I had Lasik. The eye doctor I went to this year said it’s not hard anymore even if you’ve had surgery. We will see – I’m hoping for a few more years.

  8. How interesting!
    I suppose most of us have cataract surgery to look forward to when it’s our turn. I’m grateful to hear so often that it’s really not that bad and most are so glad they did it.

  9. Congrats, Janis. Anything that means you don’t have to repaint the bedroom is a winner in my book. 🙂 On a more serious note, I saw an interview with a ‘colour-blind’ person recently where he said his world wasn’t monochrome; he saw colours but they were different from the colours other people saw.

      1. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Color blindness occurs when photoreceptors (or cones) in your eyes are missing or not working properly. The majority of us are not blind to color; we just see some colors differently than the rest of you. The colors I see are just as vivid as those that you see, but that is not true for all types of color blindness. Rarely is a person completely blind to color. Red-green color blindness is the most common. Indeed, when we’re boating, both my son and I have a difficult time determining which channel markers are red and which are green in the distance. (This is why Alan doesn’t like to leave either one of us alone at the helm too long.) Up close we can tell the difference, and we can see the red and green of traffic lights clearly due to their brightness. Additionally, I sometimes have a difficult time differentiating brown/green, navy/black and blue/gray/purple. Color blindness doesn’t have any major impact on my life aside from having to be especially careful when boating and occasionally needing to double-check a color with a sales clerk when shopping for clothes. Our son always asks Alan for help with electrical work at his home so that he doesn’t mix up the colored wires. Other than those kinds of minor inconveniences, our visual life is pretty normal. And that’s it for today’s lesson on color blindness!

        Thanks, Janis, for sharing your experience with cataract surgery. I don’t have any trouble now, but my mom needed cataract surgery on both eyes at one point so I won’t be surprised if that issue was passed down along with the color blindness. This was informative, helpful and very much appreciated!

        1. Interesting information about color blindness, Mary! I can see where certain color mix-ups could cause problems (like, wires… yikes!). Although I don’t think I’m color blind, I have trouble with dark blues and blacks too sometimes. Not sure if cataracts are hereditary, but most of us will get them to some extent… if we live long enough.

  10. I, too, have cataracts that do not yet require surgery. I am looking forward to the day when they do. I will willingly pay the difference to get Toric lenses to clear up the astigmatism that has been a part of my life as long as I remember. Congratulations on your improved vision!

    1. Good luck to you when it’s your turn! There are so many different lenses available. I originally wanted the ones that correct both near sightedness and far sightedness. Unfortunately something about the shape of my retina made that impossible. Nonetheless, I’m still happy with my new vision.

  11. So pleased for you! The last time I had my eyes tested I was told I had the beginnings of cataracts. I took my mum for two cataract ops and she came out smiling each time, so I had no real worries about the prospect of surgery – but your post enhances that view.

  12. I’m so grateful for modern medicine. I had cataract and glaucoma surgery at the same time. Couldn’t get the lenses for both near and far because of the glaucoma, but I still have good vision. I love technology!

  13. Eric had cataract surgery several years ago and has been very happy with the results. But I must admit I was a bit distressed when at my last eye appointment I was told I had the beginning of a cataract in my left eye.

    After reading your account of your experience, I feel much better! You go into much more detail than Eric did about the experience, lol. Your ‘before’ and ‘after’ images of the Vancouver skyline are really helpful! Now it makes me wonder if I’m not seeing colors as they are…

    I’m so glad you’re doing well!

    1. I recently was talking to a neighbor who had the surgery a few months before I did and I mentioned my change in color perception. He said that he hadn’t notice it with his eyes. So, either his color perception hadn’t yellowed out as much as mine, or he’s just not as tuned in with that as I am. Who knows?

      It will probably take a while between your doctor telling you that they are developing, and when they have progressed sufficiently for surgery. I’m guessing by that time, you’ll be anxious to have the surgery.

  14. Janis, Congratulations on the successful eye surgery! I’m glad you had good results. That is a wonderful image comparison of Vancouver before and after surgery.

    1. Thanks, Natalie. I knew that my “new” vision would soon become normal and I didn’t want to forget what I was seeing before. As I edited the “before” photo, I kept shutting my corrected eye so I could capture just the right tones. Looking at the comparison now, I’m amazed.

  15. I’m glad to hear the surgeries went well and that they were quick and easy. I, for one, have a huge eyeball phobia. I’ll have to be drugged into oblivion if they ever need to operate on my eyeballs.

    1. I thought it sounded pretty creepy at first too. But, I had heard from so many people that it was an easy surgery so I went ahead. There was a woman who went into surgery right before me who was really, really scared. When she came out, she was smiling and said it was “no big deal.”

  16. That’s wonderful news that you’re able to see the vivid colors again. My parents both had cataract surgery, as well as my in-laws, I don’t recall them talking about the vivid colors as a perk of having the surgery. It’s wonderful to read that it happens. I’m glad you’re doing well after your surgery. The pink flowers are gorgeous and I like how you did the before and after photos to show us what you saw. Nice job on the prompt!

    1. As my father – an avid reader – got older, he developed cataracts too. Unfortunately, he let his fear of surgery stop him from getting them fixed. I tried to talk him into it, but he was adamant. Now that I’ve had my surgery, I wish I could have somehow pushed harder (although, his answer would probably still have been “no”).

  17. He-Man has worn glasses since he was a little kid and when Laser eye surgery became available he looked to see if he was a good fit for the surgery. His Dr. said yes, so he had the surgery and the next morning he made the same comments you made about the world of color he was now able to see for the first time! Blues bluer, and greens more vivid and not blurry!

    As he’s aged though he needs cheaters. I need them to read the fine print!

    I’m so glad your eyes are fixed and you see the world in technicolor again!

  18. I’m glad the surgery was no big deal and had such wonderful results, Janis. There’s nothing quite as wonderful as seeing this beautiful world in living color. I remember when I first got glasses and marveled at trees. I could see leaves! Not just a swath of indistinct green but individual leaves. It was mind-blowing. 🙂 Enjoy the beauty all around you.

  19. I had not realized this about the colour change but it makes sense. So glad you had the surgery and things went well. Glad your world is VIVID again!

  20. A pop of exceptionally beautiful and vibrant colour, Janis. You have likely done considerable research about cataracts. I was not aware about the perception of colours. A wonderful description about Dorothy opening the door in her sepia world and entering technicolour Oz. It helps me ‘get it’ and I ‘see’ what you mean. Thank you for sharing an interesting, informative, and witty post, especially how you wove it all together. 💕

    1. Thank you, Erica. Cataract surgery has become so routine, especially with us aging Baby Boomers, but it is still a little worrisome to have someone work on your eyes. I hope that those who need the surgery don’t hesitate out of fear. So many pluses, and so few minuses.

  21. How wonderful, Janis! I’m where you were…slowly developing cataracts. Meanwhile, my 90-year old mother can read without glasses, where I am dependent. I find myself a little jealous of her, and my many friends who’ve already had this surgery. I’m sure my day will come! 🙂

  22. My only experience with this surgery is via my husband, so I had no idea that the perception of color was affected. He did not have this experience. Good to know you had a successful surgery Janis.

  23. Congratulations on your new HD 3d vision 🙂

    I am amazed at the wonders of modern technology, science, and medicine … and forever grateful for my own eye surgeries (yes, I’ve had more than one). Our sight is such a precious gift! Enjoy!!

  24. That beautiful and vivid Plumeria would be such a welcome sight with your revitalized eyes post-cataract surgery. Very interesting how you showed us the contrast Janis. This is quite amazing. Having switched from contact lenses to eyeglasses when I began working from home eleven years ago, I noticed how things just were not as crisp and clear as having those lenses right on your eye. I do understand that cataract surgery has become routine now. A friend of mine had surgery in the morning and wrote me an e-mail to tell me about it that evening. I was amazed!

    1. It does feel a bit like a miracle (of science, of course 🙂 ). I had morning surgeries for both eyes and, other than the see-through plastic cover I had to wear over the eye for the first day and night, I was pretty much back to my normal routine as soon as the happy juice wore off. That’s an interesting observation about contacts vs. glasses. I guess, with cataract surgery, the lens is even closer.

      1. That is amazing as to the whole procedure. I always wore hard lenses, then the rigid gas permeable type of lenses. I was told this would give me better vision and I needed bifocals, my contact lens practitioner suggested readers, but they didn’t work, so I went to monovision contact lenses: one eye had a contact lens for closeup and the other eye had a contact lens for distance. It worked well. No wonder you see so well now. My boss was scheduled for both eyes this past Spring and cancelled and decided not to go through with it.

        1. I tried the two different contact lens correction (one near, one far) many years ago but my brain just couldn’t make the switch. If you even need cataract surgery you may decide to go that way since you know it works for you.

          I’m sorry your boss opted out. I’m sure he had his reasons, but I hope they weren’t based on concern for the surgery. It really was easy-peasy.

          1. I went that route with the two different lenses because a co-worker had the bifocals built into the lenses and she said they moved around in her eyes and made her feel dizzy, so she ended up with glasses. She had worn contact lenses for years.

            I told my boss about my friend who e-mailed that night and was driving the next day and he said he didn’t want to talk about it. This from a man who had radiation seeds implanted when he had prostate cancer. He has a lot of colleagues who had surgery or radiation and were out of commission for a while and as a sole practitioner he didn’t want to do that and he is active (biking, swimming daily), so he went to the Cleveland Clinic and had this done. Radiation pellets implanted in the area. It worked … so far cancer-free since the implants in November 2019.

  25. You told the story perfectly – beige to white! After I had it done, it did make me think about our ancestors who had to live in that beige world and how it must have negatively impacted their quality of life. I’m certainly grateful that the surgical option is available now. Enjoy your vivid colors.

    1. Over half the blindness in the world is from cataracts. People who live in poorer countries without the medical facilities we have often can’t get this simple surgery that would fully restore their sight. SEE International is a great organization that strives to help as many of these people as possible.

      I’m glad you had a great experience also, Judy. I bet your beautiful garden looked a lot more vivid afterwards. 🙂

  26. I keep hoping (kind of) that I need cataract surgery. I too have friends who talk about the big changes afterward, primarily, no longer needing glasses. I would love that!! I guess I’ll just have to wait for my eye appointment each year and hope the time comes.

    1. I know… it’s kind of odd to wish for surgery, but I was happy to get to the point where I needed it.

      My neighbors got the super-duper (and expensive) lenses that allowed them to ditch their glasses completely and they are really happy. I had a retina issue that kept me from going that route so I still need them for distance vision. But, that’s okay, I’m still enjoying the colors and clarity and I don’t wear glasses around the house for the most part.

  27. Given I had my eyes tested two weeks ago and was told I have the very early signs of cataracts, reading your post has reassured me, Janis. The optician told me no need for surgery yet, and that he’d review it again in two years, but from what you describe, it is like switching from a standard vision TV channel to a high-definition TV channel.

  28. I can relate to everything you describe. As a matter of fact, this morning when I first started skiing, I actually thought my vision had deteriorated enough to interfere with my activity. It’s frustrating. I find myself grabbing a magnifier to augment readers and then grab the phone to shine a light on whatever I’m trying to figure out. It makes me recognize how vital our vision is, and how very lucky I’ve been to have vision. Imagine living with impaired and uncorrectable vision?

    My friends who’ve had the surgery all report how amazingly vivid the world looks post-op. I’m glad you got the bright back! Your Vancouver photos make a great illustration of life with cataracts.

    1. Although there is never a 100% guarantee with surgery, I sure would hate for anyone to avoid it just because they are nervous. The procedure itself is quick and easy and the results are amazing. So many of the physical issues we experience as we age aren’t fixable… this one is!

          1. Thanks, Janis. Actually, I’ve been going to the same optometrist since the 70s. Correction, now I see his son. I live right across the street. I’m sure if I push back, I’ll get results, mainly because I’m quite sure my vision has deteriorated that much.
            He always says it could take years or months. 🙃Meanwhile, I need to deal with cancer first. Priorities.

  29. What a great result Janis! My friend has just had her cataracts done and can’t believe how clear and bright everything is. She sounds like you in the results being better than she expected.

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