Through A Lens Darkly

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Photo by Louis Cahill

By Louis Cahill

What is an angler without his eyes?

All of my life I have defined myself by my eyes. Certainly as a photographer, and as I developed in the sport, more and more as an angler. My vision has been at the center of my life, in both my work and my play. It was just over a year ago that I was on the bow of a flats boat in the Bahamas, on a cloudy day with tough visibility. I had explained to my guide several times that I have a 40% loss of hearing. It takes a long time for guides to adjust to the idea that they have to yell at their clients when they’re not F-ing up. Fortunately I’d done pretty well at finding fish for myself. About the fourth time I spotted, and hooked, a bonefish before my guide saw it, my guide mumbled something and my boat-mate started to laugh.

“What’d he say?” I asked.

“He said, you may not can hear but there’s not a damn thing wrong with your eyes.”

I didn’t know it yet, but he was wrong. In fact, I had already started to lose my sight. The change was slow and I didn’t notice it at first. Oddly enough, my first clue was not that I couldn’t see but that I couldn’t hear. For years I’ve gotten by in conversation by reading lips. I only started to realize I had a problem with my eyes when I could no longer see well enough to know what people were saying.

It wasn’t long before the truth was painfully obvious. Driving became difficult, and impossible at night. Horns would blare when I changed lanes and I missed turns because I could no longer read signs. Not even the big ones over the interstate. I started walking into door casings. When I closed my left eye, the world looked like a Monet painting. In the space of a year any usable vision in my right eye was gone and much in my left. Forget about seeing bonefish.

I am very fortunate. I was terrified at first, and I put off going to the doctor because, that’s what I do. It turned out that the problem is fixable. I have developed cataracts. I’m very young to be in this spot, and they have come on very quickly, but the doctor tells me that surgery will fix the problem. In fact, I may well have the best vision of my life, once it’s done. The surgery is not without risk, and it’s certainly not cheap so click on those ads, I need the money! Still, I feel very lucky to have a solution.

So, today is the day. 

I am having surgery right now. It could be over already. It’s a big deal to me, not to anyone else. I’m only writing about it because, 1) it affects my fishing and their may be others reading who have the same problem, and 2) I’m not sure exactly what shape I’ll be in afterwards. I do not foresee any interruption in the flow of content here at G&G but I haven’t ruled out that we may do a “Greatest Hits” week if things get sketchy. I will write an update at some point, and share what I learn in the process. There will be a second surgery in February. We’ll see how it goes.

Wish me luck and stay tuned.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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33 thoughts on “Through A Lens Darkly

  1. I expect you will be fine. I’m a licensed optician, as well ask a post-cataract patient. I have been wearing glasses all my life, as I was quite nearsighted. But as a result of the cataract surgery, I no longer need glasses for distance vision. By now you are done with the procedure and, like I was, are probably looking forward to having the other eye done. The clarity of vision after the procedure is almost shocking, and so thrilling! Enjoy!

  2. Advice for all: if a doctor tells you that you need intraocular lens replacement because of cataracts … get it done as fast as you can. The change in your vision will seem a miracle.

    And if later the fixed eye starts to get blurry, as mine did at Abaco with Louis last year, go back to the same guy and he’ll fix that too, a condition called posterior capsule opacification easily cured with a simple laser treatment.

    You’ll be fine, Louis. See you at Bair’s in June.

  3. Good Luck Louis – hope everything goes (went) well. A morning without my coffee and G&G fix is a poor start to my day so even a Best Of would be great – probably save me time time going back to find posts I’m looking for. It’s -27 C here in central Ontario this morning so even ice fishing is out without a hut.

  4. Good luck…and just remember when you move to a 55+ community some day, about 75% of your new pals will have had that surgery.

  5. Good luck Louis.

    I recently had lens replacement surgery and artificial rings put in my eye to correct a permanently blown pupil. My vision went from 20% in my right eye to 80%. It made a huge difference in fishing but more importantly in day to day life.

    Hope all goes well and your back on the water soon.

  6. Hi Louis. What a timely article! I had cataract surgery in Dec. and Jan. and am absolutely amazed and thrilled with my clear, crisp distance vision. It’s the best I can ever remember. I need readers for computer/reading distance but that is working out just fine. Good luck to you in your recovery on this eye, and for the next eye in a couple of weeks!

  7. Good luck Louis. This is a great surgery with great improvement for almost all patients. You will have laser vision on the flats after this.

  8. Best of luck! I needed emergency surgery for a detached retina early in my career as a dentist, and I understand your concerns. People should never take their vision for granted.. btw I did fine and I am sure you will too

  9. Hope it went well, Louis. Mine was nothing short of a miracle. I will have one of your special G & T’s to toast your recovery.

  10. This is a piece of cake! A walk in the park! A no-brainer! You’ll kick yourself in the ass for not doing it sooner! And, you’ll now be an advocate for this surgery! Stay the course!

  11. One of my law partners had early onset cataracts and went through the surgery last year. It was simple, quick recovery period and his vision is 20-10 again.

    No brainer.

  12. Louis, hope the cataract surgery #1 went well, and the one in February does even better. I had LASIC, and was really happy with the result, then had a similar vision problem as you. I had the left eye done with the multifocal lens, and the improvement was just amazing. My wife, who for the life of me I cannot get into the water to fish with me (sigh…), had both eyes done last November. She doesn’t even need reading glasses and is super pleased with her new 20/20 vision.

  13. Wishing you the best of successful outcomes! I enjoy your blogs and always get a tid-bit or two. I am praying for you and the outcome, not only for you, but, the most selfish of reasons. BTW: I am legally blind and have to really work at it to fish, tie flies or rod building.

    Doing what you love isn’t easy, but you already know that … so just let me say that there are thousands in your corner, my my blogging buddy!

  14. It’s now just shy of 2 weeks later, and unless I missed a post about it, I am so eager to hear from you with the results of the first procedure. And I am sure most followers of G&G are, too. So how’d you make out? Please let us know.

  15. Glad to hear that the procedure was successful Louis and hoping that the next one is as well. I have a degenerative retinal disease
    (RP) that forced an early retirement a few years ago. I took up fly fishing and am learning the sport with very little vision. Challenging for sure, but very rewarding once I feel the line get tight! Enjoy your blog and would welcome any tips on knot tying, threading, etc to help me as I learn more about this great sport.

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