By Linda Gilman MS, LPC, Gerontology Specialist
“Flowers, flowers, everywhere”! I never looked forward to Spring. My friends would ooohhhh and aaaahhhh about all the beautiful colors popping up. My friend Sophie would say, “Miss Lily just look at how yellow that tulip is…Isn’t it just gorgeous?” I’d growled back, “You call that yellow, looks kinda brown to me!” My friend Sophie and I have been having that same argument for a long time.
My good friend, who is so smart and wise, said, “Miss Lily, don’t you think it’s time to get rid of those cataracts? You’ll see such a difference — all the colors you think are drab will now be vibrant and real.” I whined,”But I’m afraid, I don’t want an operation.” And just then Marilyn, my caregiver, came in the room and said, “Oh Miss Lily, it’s not an operation — it’s a procedure.”
That was five years ago. I did have the procedure. One cataract was removed and the second, two weeks later. I did very well. When the doctor asked me what I saw when I opened my eyes, I looked at the female surgeon and said, “Well, your lipstick is red and your eye shadow is purple… They don’t match!” The doctor said, “Miss Lily, your eyesight is perfect!” To that, I broadly smiled.
What is a Cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. That was the reason I could not see the bright yellow color of the tulip. Most cataracts are related to aging and are common in older people, both men and women. By age 80, more than half of Americans have a cataract or have had one removed. That is why it is so important for an older adult to get their eyes checked once a year. The only way to determine if someone has a cataract is by having an eye doctor evaluate the patient.
I told Marilyn that even my bedroom looked different. Marilyn said, “Miss Lily, tell me more about that.” I replied, “Well, I thought my walls were dingy and needed painting. It kind of made me depressed. When I got home — I couldn’t believe how bright my room was — the walls were ivory not grey.”
So, call your eye doctor for an appointment. Do you want to see flowers blooming, see your environment, see brighter colors? Then do yourself a favor, get your eyes examined. It is required that you have someone drive you to and from the appointment. If you need help, we are available to assist you or your caregiver in resources and support.
Readers, feel free to contact Linda Gilman or Marilyn Woelke at Geri-Ed Services, 309-373-2400 or 309-781-6462, if you are concerned about a loved one who drinks too much or who has behavioral problems due to drinking. Alcohol is becoming high on the list of the dementia related problems. But it is one of the dementias that may be reversed if caught early.
Photo credit: Marcus Lindstrom/iStock