June Newsletter 2015 — Cataracts: Reflections on What I Can and Cannot See

Cataracts are common in older adults. Statistics show that 70% of all people over the age of 75 develop cataracts.

A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens in the eye. People with cataracts may notice cloudy vision or halos around lights when driving at night. If left untreated, cataracts can greatly limit vision. In fact, some people with severe cataracts may only be able to tell the difference between light and dark. 

What causes cataracts? What causes blurring? Author Debbie Shapiro, Your Body Speaks Your Mind, suggests that as we age we may fear what lies ahead, or that “withdrawing behind the cloudiness creates the illusion that nothing is really changing.”

Having had surgery recently to remove cataracts, I wanted to take stock of how I see my world, and I found the need to look within to evaluate my perspective on my past, my present, and my future.

Presbyopia, or farsightedness, means one can see distance but what is close up is blurred. Debbie Shapiro interprets this as an inability to accept or deal with the reality around us, and choosing instead to focusing on faraway images– which may even involve our imagination and creativity to seek an alternative reality.

Myopia, or near sightedness, is usually due to contracted eye muscles, or maybe an attempt to block our vision of something in our past. With myopia, the world in front of us is clear, but the far distance is blurred, “as if the sight has been pulled in or retracted, perhaps due to a feeling that the future is insecure or fearful, and easier to avoid by focusing on the present.” writes Shapiro.

We can have surgery to correct our vision, but how and what we see also relates to other aspects of our “vision.”

As we age we may be pretty set in our ways, unable or unwilling to broaden our perspective. Our lives may narrow with the loss of friends, family members, and possessions; or become limited due to other changes in our health.

In order to cope or survive one might wall off distractions and peripheral ways of seeing things. When acquiring certain toughness for emotional, occupational, financial and mental survival, there is a focus that becomes all important to success.  Narrowing our vision may seem necessary to overcome obstacles.

“Blurring” is like “numbing,” so pain can’t be felt. Blurring is to obscure what is seen to possibly prevent a fearful response or dread of moving forward. Blurring is avoiding the present, shutting down pain and memories of the past. Blurring is to hide, evade and forget. But I want to see. I want to see where I am going.

I want to clearly see the faces of my loved ones. I want to clearly see the sunsets, the flowers, the mountains, and the seagulls over the waves. I want to clearly see joy and love expressed on the faces of those I love. I want to, without fear, see all that is before me. I want to see and dissolve emotional triggers to pain from the past so I face a future without baggage. I want to focus on the good my life has contained, the people and places I have enjoyed –so I don’t want to erase my past because there are issues I don’t want to ever see.

In Chinese medicine, the health of the liver relates to the health of the eyes; as well, the corresponding emotion, anger, impacts the health of the liver. Releasing our emotions ensures that we stay clear within ourselves.

Questions to reflect upon:

Am I open to life—being positive and hopeful to possibilities—or am I afraid of what may come?

Am I a chronic worrier, or chronically angry?

Am I avoiding my present realities?

Am I living with regrets or painful memories of my past?

Am I living each day “numb” to what IS– to simply cope?

Part II of Cataracts: Reflections on What I Can and Cannot See  in the July Newsletter