By Sister Nancy Surma, OSF
Like many fellow Baby Boomers, I had cataract surgery recently. I’ve had terrible eye sight since I was a child and have worn glasses since the 5th grade. I couldn’t see things clearly that were only three feet in front of me.
Last June at my regular eye exam, the ophthalmologist said I was starting to develop a cataract in my right eye. By the time I came back in January for a follow-up visit, both eyes had cataracts developed enough that surgery was warranted. I had the surgeries two weeks apart. It’s amazing how quickly the actual procedure is and how painless. I now see 20/20 at a distance without glasses. It’s an amazing feeling to wake up in the morning and not have to grab for my glasses before I roll out of bed. I still need glasses for reading, but that’s a small price to pay for the improvement.
I knew my vision would be improved, but one thing I was not expecting was how much more vivid colors would be. I had my right eye surgery first and walked out of the surgery center with a large patch over that eye. I returned to the office the next day to have it removed and the results checked. The clarity of vision struck me immediately, but it wasn’t until I walked out of the office into the lobby where the other change hit me. On the wall was a large, brightly colored picture of flowers. As I looked at the image out of my right eye, the colors were intense and glowing. When I closed that eye and looked only out of my still uncorrected left eye, the picture was nice, but rather ordinary. The difference was that the cataract, which is a protein deposit on the lens, had clouded my ability to see colors. What a wonderful difference to see white as pure and clean again, as well as enjoy the whole spectrum of colors in a heightened way.
As I reflected on this in the days after, I thought of the story of boiling a frog. You’ve heard it, I’m sure. If you want to boil a frog, you don’t put it into a pot of boiling water, for the frog will sense the high temperature and jump right out. No, to boil a frog, you put the frog in a pot of water with low heat under it. The gradual change goes unnoticed by the frog until it is too late. My eyes were like that. The clouding from the cataract occurred gradually, so slowly that I wasn’t aware of any change. It wasn’t until the cumulative change was removed in the surgery that I recognized how far my vision had strayed from reality.
My reflections moved on from there. Are there other parts of my life that have become “clouded” over time, so slowly that I haven’t even noticed? Is my commitment to prayer, to community, to action for social justice also gradually compromised? Have I let my passion to make a difference be dimmed by the reality of daily routine and disappointments? I haven’t arrived at my answers to these questions yet, but anytime I get caught up with a sight that is particularly colorful and clear, I am reminded to look at what else in my life can use some repair.