My Old Fart Eyes

2014 Ed Harris


I am now 64. In 2008 I had a retinal detachment in my dominant right eye, caused by a workplace injury, which was repaired using vitrectomy and internal drainage in which a gas bubble was injected into my eye to hold the retina in place, while its edges were tacked in place with a laser. The surgery was completely successful, but a year later the eye developed a significant cataract, which was removed.


During the cataract surgery I had an intraocular implant of intermediate focus inserted into my right eye. Objects from 20-40 inches away are in sharp focus, I use a slight correction for distance and for precision close work. I can read the Wall Street Journal under good light, or work on the computer without corrective lenses and no longer have a corrective lens restriction on my driver's license. My vision is 20-20 with glasses. The sights on my carry gun are sharp without glasses when I extend the gun in 2-handed Isosceles.


Before suffering the detached retina I competed in high-power rifle and indoor bullseye pistol shooting having shooting using glasses approximately -0.5 diopter less than my reading prescription. My shooting glasses were optimized for a focal length based upon the measured distance my cheek bone below the eye to the front sight, approximately 39 inches for me. This gave a sharp sight picture, but the target was fussy if I used only my right eye. The target would sharpen considerably if I also used a Merit adjustable iris with the corrective lenses, but this isn't always practical in dimly light indoor ranges. But it works great outdoors for pistol shooting in full sun.


When shooting service rifle outdoors I could read the number boards OK with my left eye, but when down in position looking through the sights it was necessary to count target frames to be sure I was on the right one, so that I wouldn't crossfire. I could hold 6:00 OK on the bull for standing, 200 and 300 rapid, but would frame the target at 600. Back in the 1980s I shot Master, but these days I'm Expert.


I could use a scope if the eye lens was backed off to put the reticle in sharp focus without corrective lenses, and I could hunt with no trouble. Firing a shotgun or iron sighted rifle I shoot with both eyes open, as I have good distance vision in the left eye. The brain has no trouble merging the target image in the left with the sight image in the right.


I was told by my retinal specialist when the vitrectomy was done that the surgery eye would eventually develop a cataract. This is because while the laser used for the retinal repair was focused at the back of the eye, putting all that energy through the lens tissue is akin to inserting a hot wire through an egg white, so it causes a localized opacity. This was not a matter of "if" I would get a cataract in that eye, but rather of how soon it would become objectionable.


Within 6 months the focal distance in my right eye shortened to about half of normal and distance vision in that eye deteriorated to 20/200. I could no longer adjust a scope to have the reticle sharp, and using the sights on a revolver became impossible. All I could do was impose a fuzzy gun over a fuzzy silhouette and instinctively point-shoot Applegate style. I got some extensive coaching from a retired FBI academy instructor and have since become a believer in point shooting, but that is another story... For those who want more on this read Applegate's book Bullseye's Don't Shoot back and follow it. It works.


While I could have gotten new corrective lenses and lived with my condition for a while longer, my doctor advised that the younger I was when I had the surgery the better the chance for a successful outcome, because the eye then is then more flexible and resilient that it would be if I waited a year or so longer. I would enjoy more years of good vision by having the surgery sooner, rather than later. Being active and still working full time working outdoors I decided not to wait on the surgery. I had it done and my outcome has been wonderful. My intraocular lens is an AcrySoft Natural by Alcon Laboratories which is light blue in color with UV filter. I can function fine without glasses, although due to the nature of my outdoor work I wear progressive Transitions lenses most of the time. My vision so equipped is like being 20-years old again.


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