.@ Tony Finch – blog

As well as being very short-sighted in my right eye, I have a cataract in my left eye.

This post is going to discuss medical stuff that you might prefer to skip.

This story continues with an eye examination at Addenbrooke’s cataract clinic, and eventually cataract surgery.

how it was

When I was very small, my grandmother saw me squinting and told my parents that they should get my eyes looked at; and that’s how we found out I had a congenital cataract.

It is (or was) weird enough to make opticians curious: it was like a little crystal in the middle of the lens. The effect on my vision was curious too.

In bright light, when my pupil was small, I could see almost nothing with my left eye, so I had no depth perception. This was problematic for school games involving flying balls, like cricket or tennis.

In low light I could see blurry shapes, but for a long time I thought my left eye was basically useless. But when I was about 20 we went on a trip to a theme park. I went in to a 3D cinema, not expecting to get much out of it, but I didn’t want to be separated from my friends. I was surprised that I did, in fact, see the exaggerated 3D effects of a dog putting its nose in my face and things like that. Fun!

(lack of) treatment

When I was still growing, I regularly (once or twice a year) went to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London to get the cataract examined by an expert. It never really changed much, and it wasn’t troublesome enough to justify surgery, especially since I was still growing and surgical techniques were improving, so it made sense to leave it.

I became short-sighted around puberty, and since my teenage years my eyes have just been checked by normal opticians, and my right eye messed around a lot more than my left. We continued to leave the cataract alone.

middle age

Now I am in my late 40s, and in the last few years I have started getting presbyopia. Many years ago I chose to get glasses with small frames so that the edges of the lenses were not too thick; now I peer under the lenses when I need to look closely at something.

At about the same time as I noticed I was getting long-sighted, my cataract also changed. Basically, the whole lens clouded over. This has made it obvious that I had a useful amount of peripheral vision in my left eye, because now I am much more frequently surprised by people or things that sneak up on my left.


I had a long-delayed eye test earlier this month during which we discussed my cataract. Cataract surgery is a lot better now than it was, and my cataract is a lot more annoying than it was, so I think it’s worth getting a specialist opinion on whether surgery will help more than it hurts.

To be honest the idea of it is freaky and scary, but rationally I know a lot of people have cataract surgery each year, and I hear less horrible things about it than I do about laser surgery for myopia.

Today I got a letter from Addenbrooke’s to say their triage team had rejected my referral, because the referral form was incomplete or unclear or sent to the wrong place or something. Vexing. So I emailed my optician and my GP with a list of things that I think need to be mentioned in the referral, with reference to some useful documents about the clinical criteria needed to justify it.

Hopefully the second try will actually get a specialist to agree to eyeball my eyeball…


A few weeks later some combination of my GP and optometrist managed to get the referral un-rejected, so I have an appointment with the Addenbrooke’s cataract clinic on 23rd February 2022. A bit of a wait, but I was told to expect it…