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Cataracts and Benchwork

After years of working in a small south-facing passive solar garden
shed, I moved into my dream studio last fall. However, I began to
have some problems seeing fine details in my work and initially wrote
it off to the softer lighting my new north-facing studio offers. When
brighter task lighting and increased magnification didn’t help, I
went to my eye doctor, and have just been diagnosed with cataracts at
the relatively young age of 52. There was no evidence of these in my
previous exam three years ago, and my doctor had no explanation why I
should be developing them so soon.

At the moment, I’m still in shock, and don’t really know what the
implications for this are in regard to my work and business.
Eventually, when the cataracts have matured enough, I will undergo
surgery to remove them, but in the mean time, I have to figure out
how to continue my work. My opthamologist recommended increasing
the overall light level at my bench as a way to buy time.

My questions to you good Orchid folks are these:

  1. Have any of you found yourselves in my situation? If so, how did
    you deal with it, and how did you continue to work as long as your
    vision allowed?

  2. Can you recommend a lamp producing very bright light suitable for
    bench work that doesn’t generate a lot of heat?

  3. Are (early) cataracts common among our trade? If so, what factors
    seem to be causative?

Thanks for your help. Feel free to write off list if you prefer.

Walk in Beauty,
Susannah Ravenswing
Jewels of the Spirit
Germanton, NC


Unfortunately the cataracts are present, the whys are behind, ahead
is where to focus.

There are new methods now that do not necessitate removal of the
natural lens. A teaching Eye Institute would be a place to go for
answers. Waiting for a cataract to ripen is only critical when the
government is paying the bill. Please do some research.

Over the last year and a half, I have had both cataracts removed. I
now read the phone book without glasses or contact lenses.

Something to consider, while waiting for a cataract to ripen, your
vision becomes rather impaired. If you drive, that is not good. Some
authority somewhere must make the connection between developing
cataracts and crashes.

The before and after difference is so acute, you will be startled.

As for lighting at your work area, look to Ott Lights, they are good
and cool.

Yes you are young for the problem, you do not want to be old when
they resolve it.


Have you looked at the Ott lights which are available at needlework
and craft shops? They are used by people who do detailed needlework
and are supposed to be as close to natural light as possible. I know
people who swear by them. They come in floor models and models that
clamp to your bench or work area.

As far as cataracts go–they run in my family. My mom had the
surgery with implants done and it is now out patient surgery. I had
heard that sun damage can cause them, so I can’t help but wonder if
working close to the torch could some way cause them also. My mom’s
color perception was what was affected most but the surgery put it
back to normal.

Good luck!
Vicki Embrey

... have just been diagnosed with cataracts at the relatively
young age of 52. There was no evidence of these in my previous exam
three years ago, and my doctor had no explanation why I should be
developing them so soon. 

Hi Susannah,

Cataracts happen. I’ve had a cataract removed and an IOL implanted
recently (a month ago). Some say the ozone is not filtering out
harmful rays so much anymore, hence a rise in cataract operations
worldwide. The good news is that cataract removal and IOL implant
surgery is one of the most common and routine surgeries, and in
skilled hands it usually goes very well. It takes about 20 minutes.

However the intra ocular lens (IOL) they fit will have a set focal
length, so your surgeon must choose well in order to give you a
useful focal length. The newer multi-focal IOLs have some drawbacks
(poorer night vision for eg) that make them less of a good choice.

I researched cataract surgery quite well. I was quite myopic before
(minus 4) so I asked for some residual myopia with the new lens. My
reason is that since the IOL will have a fixed focus, I’d like that
to include perfect close focus at the expense of perfect distance

Clear vision from 2 feet to about 50 feet would suit me better than
6 feet to infinity. You need to think about your own preference and
discuss it with your ophthalmologist.

For general questions and advice I recommend subscribing to the
newsgroup which FAQ is here:

Some cataracts show themselves as cloudy vision. Some don’t: my
cataract presented as increasingly blurred vision. Increased myopia
that was not corrected by my spectacles. I went from -4.00 to -8.50
in about 18mths. My cataract was causing my natural lens to develop a
higher index rating.

In the meantime I dealt with it by renewing my spectacle lenses
often and by wearing add-on plus lenses of different power for each

At the moment I have removed the left lens from my spectacle frame
as the new implanted lens is so far better than my natural one ever


B r i a n A d a m
e y e g l a s s e s j e w e l l e r y

I have forwarded this email to my father, who was an opthalmic
surgeon/optician, now retired, but still a great source of
If he is able to assist with further info, I will post
his response for

:slight_smile: Kimmyg


So sorry for what you are experiencing with your eyes. I wish you
all the best and hope you can continue to do what you love.

Verilux makes great lights - I don’t know if they will help in your
situation, but I have found they help my ageing eyes a great deal.
Cuts down on eye strain, and it’s just so much easier to see the
small details. Here is their website:

I use their bulbs in a regular lamp, and it makes a big difference.
I also use them as the light source when taking photos.

No affiliation with this company, just a happy customer.

Best of luck and health to you, Susannah.


Hi, Susannah

When my cataracts were maturing, I found that a magnifying visor was
a great help.

At least in our area, where we have a very hot bright sun, people
seem to find (and doctors seem to echo) that not using good
sunglassess in bright sun seems to hasten the onset of cataracts.
So, this might explain why people in some areas get cataracts sooner
than in other areas.


Hello Susannah,

I have had Surgery in both eye’s to replace the len’s after
developing cataracts in both eye’s. I would be happy to speak with
you offline if you wish. I can be reached at 602-518-7692 or @
@Karl2 ( phone is best for me )



I am a bit older than you (65). One ophthalmologist I consulted told
me I had “advanced early-age cataracts.” He recommended surgery. I
went to another ophthalmologist for a second opinion. The second
doctor said there was nothing special about having cataracts in one’s
50’s or 60’s. He also recommended surgery. Whatever the cause of
the cataracts, my advice would be to have the surgery as soon as
possible. If one doctor says they are not “ripe” enough, get a
second opinion. If the cataracts are significantly hindering your
eyesight they should be removed.

I didn’t realize I had anything wrong with my eyes (other than
myopia and astigmatism) until I bought one of those little auxiliary
loupes for my OptiVisor. I put the loupe on the right side, expected
to see a nice, close-up view of the piece I was working on, and
immediately discovered that I was totally blind in my right eye. I
switched the loop to the left and was able to get good magnification.
The reason I had not discovered this in using hand-held loupes is
that I am left-eye dominant and just naturally use my left eye. After
I got past the initial shock of blindness, I realized that the most
likely cause was cataracts. I scheduled an exam with my
ophthalmologist. He told me I needed to have the cataract in the
right eye removed. He said nothing about the left eye. The doctor I
consulted for a second opinion told me I actually needed surgery on
both eyes. He was absolutely correct.

I had surgery on the right eye (a 30-minute outpatient procedure) in
early December. The results were astounding. I had no idea that my
color vision had been obstructed by the cataract. Cataracts filter
out certain portions of the visible light spectrum. Things that
looked pastel before now had vibrant colors. Since my left eye had
not yet been operated, I was able to make comparisons by covering
one eye at a time. The left eye still saw pastel colors, while the
right saw the entire, beautiful range of colors. If that were the
only benefit it would have been worth it.

Some of the benefits (I had the left eye done in February) are:

I am no longer blind in my right eye.

I can see colors I had forgotten existed.

I can legally drive without glasses (after 50 years of requiring

I have depth perception that allows me to align small parts under

I can actually see better than any other time in my life, with the
possible exception of early childhood.

Del Pearson of Designs of Eagle Creek in Beautiful South Texas,
where I can now see the colors and find it even more beautiful.


Your observations about the effects of cataracts are a real “eye
opener” ( terrible pun ! ) Given the fact that many, if not most of
us, develop cataracts as we age…and, given the fact that close up
vision and color perception are so critical to our endeavours, it
behooves us all to consider what the effects of developing cataracts
might be upon our effectiveness in our work. Color perception is so
central to diamond appraising that maybe it ought to be periodically
tested in those who perform appraisals…I am reminded of the
time when a group of New York appraisers were tested for color
blindness and it was determined that 20% of them were color blind. We
do not live in a perfect world !

Ron Mills, Mills Gem Co.
Los Osos, Ca.

A friend who recently had cataract surgery told me this story.

Monet developed cataracts late in his career, and had surgery to
have them removed, one of the earliest of these surgeries. After the
surgery, he literally saw his own work with new eyes, and kept
trying to borrow paintings back from those he’d sold them to, to
repaint and improve them.

Janet Kofoed

My sincere thanks to all of you who responded to my questions
regarding cataracts and others’ experiences in dealing with them.
Once again, I’m moved by the support and encouragement that members
of this group share so freely, along with their wonderful repository
of personal and professional experience. Your response to my
diagnosis and questions helped me to “see” this issue in a new way,
eased my fears, and offered numerous helpful suggestions and
reassuring personal experiences. Bless you!

In the matter of how to better store my bulk LOS, the group has
proved equally helpful, and when the next (fresh) batch arrives, I
plan to transfer into airtight brown vitamin bottles and store with
desiccant in a larger airtight, opaque container. Gotta love the
ingenuity of a batch of creative, resourceful people!

Walk in Beauty, and with my appreciation, Susannah Ravenswing - just
back from the big Franklin Gem Show where vendors were digging moats
around their booths to channel off the deluge


I don’t know if it was before or after surgery, but I understood
that the huge pieces Monet did at the end of his life were because
he couldn’t see well any more. I saw a photo of him as an old man–I
don’t remember where it was–sitting up in bed with long brushes
strapped to his arms and painting a huge painting that was a good
distance away from him. I love that image–find it utterly

Janet, in beautiful Mill Valley