The Eiffel Tower is pretty fetching after cataract surgery

I’ve written before about the (sometimes brutal) epiphany I had after getting (rather unexpected) cataract surgery a few years ago.

You see, unless you’re 5 years old, or 90, the world simply doesn’t look like what you think it looks like. And that can be a bit existentially disconcerting.

For example, take grass. With lenses colored by age, grass is pretty hot stuff. It’s so bright green, it practically screams at you on a summer’s day. Not so much after you get cataract surgery. Grass, alas, is a post-cataract bummer.

But sunsets. Don’t even get me started on sunsets. Forget the main event, the sun itself. That’s for amateurs. Those of us with artificial lenses in our eyes, rather than those pale yellow things the rest of you put up with, see the world (other than grass) in technicolor. During sunsets — often, but not always — I see the entire sky light up with a beautiful bright burgundy, pink, neon-y glow. It’s pretty amazing. (And I tested it after I’d only had cataract surgery in one eye, and had my sister test it too – as she’s only had one done — both confirmed I wasn’t (or rather, was) seeing things.)

Of course, it does take a few months — it took me at least — to get over the concern that perhaps you were living a color-lie your entire life (or perhaps you’re living one now). When I post photos on the blog, or blow them up for my apartment, will other people not see what I’m seeing?  And is what I’m seeing even real? Or is it like those cameras over the past decade that had the saturation amped up because people liked their photos to look more real than the real thing? Did the doctor amp-up my eye so that things are so pretty they’re fake?

And neon. Ooh, neon. Paris is filled with neon. And it’s pretty cool post-cataract surgery. You’ll just have to trust me on this.

And finally, the Eiffel Tower. I went to dinner last night with a friend who’s a reporter in Paris. We went to some little bistro near the Eiffel Tower, and he suggested we take a walk after dinner.

I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower, a lot, over the years. I had the good fortune to study abroad in Paris, then worked here for a summer, and have come back many of the past several years for my medical tourism (and for work), the savings of which gladly (and sadly) ended up paying for my entire trip.

But nothing prepared me for last night’s post-cataract Eiffel Tower sparklefest. We happened on it around 10pm, right when the light show begins.  Basically, the whole thing glitters.  It was far more glittery, and just simply stunning, than I remembered. Yep, the cataracts struck again.

The video is only one second long, because I thought the camera wasn’t capturing the true majesty of the moment — but in retrospect, it’s not so bad. But you have to watch fast!

I took some photos too, once we got right in front of the Tower. How could you not?

©John Aravosis, 2014

©John Aravosis, 2014

©John Aravosis, 2014

©John Aravosis, 2014

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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41 Responses to “The Eiffel Tower is pretty fetching after cataract surgery”

  1. PhillipCBaum says:

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  2. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    I went with progressive lenses and a great frame.

  3. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    I’m waiting for braille porn.

  4. Strepsi says:

    Congrats and that’s a beautiful sight.

    P.S. There’s 3-D porn now you may want to check out… ;)

  5. vickif says:

    I still hate glasses.

  6. Steven Leahy says:

    I found three pairs of cool ones on Amazon

  7. My vision is 20/20 or 20/25 depending on the day. I do need reading glasses now, because of the surgery, but they’ve got so many cool styles now that I actually don’t mind them. Took me a bit to get used them, hated them at first, now I just keep them on my head :)

  8. vickif says:

    I have astigmatism also. Now for sure I have to go see about getting my eyes done. I don’t have any problems with my bifocals but I wish I could get rid of glasses altogether.Thanks.

  9. vickif says:

    So far I see fine with my glasses. I’ve been wearing glasses since i was 5 and now I’m 69. I used to leave my glasses on the playground and other places that’s how much I used to hate wearing glasses. I used to get the usual 4 eyes and other comments from school mates. I think they were just jealous. Thanks for your advice. I’m glad your eyes are better now.

  10. Steven Leahy says:

    Mine told me the same thing. Getting the distance vision back was the most important to me, anyway.

  11. I got a 3, though god knows how. That was hard. I was convinced numerous colors were exactly the same — no idea how I lined them up.

  12. J’aurais dit de ne pas etre jaloux, mais vraiment, c’est Paris — il faut etre jaloux :-)

  13. Oh god yes, xmas trees – again, lights in general are particularly amazing things now. The actual point source of the light, not the light thrown off by it. Thus the eiffel tower all glittery, just amazing.

  14. I want to say I did this, but maybe I didn’t post it. I tried to change a photo in photoshop after I only had one eye done, to show the difference, but perhaps I didn’t like my results enough. I know that afterwards, I felt that everything was too blue — because before in fact everything was too yellow.

  15. Oh and the cataract surgery was cake. I mean, any surgery can go wrong, so I’m not going to promise good results of course. But it really wasn’t a big deal. The concept freaks you out, but it was all pretty easy. And I would recommend going to someone with a LOT of experience. Even though this is “easy” surgery, it matters how well they “guess” your prescription in advance, to give you the correct prescription for your correction, and it matters how well they place the lens in your eye too. But as I said, as surgery goes, this is pretty simple stuff. But I wil repeat what my doctor, who is a rather big specialist in the US said, he said to forget the bifocal lenses – 70% of his patients who got them wish they hadn’t, because of complications like the starbursts around lights, etc. It convinced me not to try them, but I also wasn’t a candidate I think because of my bad correction, I’m not sure now.

    Also, the surgery “can” decrease your astigmatism if you have any. It cut mine in half, which was nice (though I wish it got rid of it completely).

  16. Not this trip. That was a few years ago, and was done in the US. In France, a few years back, I happpened to have a retinal tear and then detachment which required immediate surgery. This trip is for some work stuff, and to get my dirt cheap asthma medicine.

  17. Oh, and my doc said not to go for the bifocal cataract lense replacements — he said they’re not ready for prime-time as too many patients (on the order of 70 or more) have had enough complications as to regret having gotten them. They should have just gotten the long distance lenses and used reading glasses.

  18. I had the second eye done a month later, I had to, it was going downhill fast. But yeah, it’s weird how yellow the remaining eye is until you have the second surgery. Also, I was initially getting starbursts from pinpoint lights, but that’s now gone away.

  19. I have LOTS of floaters, they do suck. I assume if you know you have macular degeneration, they’ve checked the status of your retina otherwise, so at least the floaters aren’t indicative of a tear. Yeah, I mean talk to a specialists about what risk if any there is in having the cataract surgery. In my case, there was a risk having already have a retinal detachment. I went to a specialist and he was confident that there shouldn’t be a problem, so I went ahead with the cataract surgery (not that I had a huge choice after becoming permanently blurry in one eye and having the other quickly approach that point). Just make sure you go to a specialist — possibly ask your macular guy AND a cataract specialist both.

  20. Exact same as mine. Now need reading glasses, but reading glasses have fortunately finally become fun!

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  22. vickif says:


  23. Steven Leahy says:

    I wish you the best of luck and hope some kind of treatment works out for you.

  24. vickif says:

    I already wear bifocals have for many years. I also have macular degeneration and get those little black floaty things that look like little feathers in my eyes. That’s one reason I don’t know about cataract surgery. I guess i’ll have to check it out. At 69 I’m in excellent health except for my eyes.

  25. Butch1 says:

    That was a great service.

  26. Steven Leahy says:

    Yeah it sucks :-( LOL. But if you were worried and wondering, cataract surgery is among the least unpleasant medical procedures I have had – it is quick and was painless for me. The worst part is having to wear sunglass-like eyepatches for a week oh and the eyedrops – one of them (I had to use three kinds) burned like hell. They have various options in cataract lenses now where you can have lenses implanted to your specs. I would rather wear reading glasses than have to wear them for far vision and near like I used to. I can drive for the first time in my life without correction and can see road signs better than ever.

  27. vickif says:

    Last month I went to the eye doctor for my yearly checkup she told me I’m getting cataracts also. I’m both nearsighted and farsighted and I’ve been wearing glasses since I was little. I also have other eye problems also. I hate getting old.

  28. Steven Leahy says:

    I got my eyes done a day apart. It was SO worth it. The cataract clinic picked me up and took me back home, was a sweet deal.

  29. Steven Leahy says:

    Congratulations John! I am 50 and had cataract surgery a year ago myself. I never realized things used to be so bright. You’re pretty young yourself to have gone through that as well! I was very nearsighted and now have perfect distance vision but have to wear reading glasses :-( I have never seen distance as bright and clear as I do now.

  30. emjayay says:

    I read the headline and my first thought was “Hmmmm, how do you do cataract surgery on a tower?” …….Oh.
    But really wasn’t it better around 1930?

  31. Butch1 says:

    When I had my first eye done I knew it was bad, though I didn’t realize just how bad my cataract was in that eye until I had the surgery. The new lens was pristine. Completely clear whilst my other eye was like looking through a yellow lens. You do not realize how much your lenses change over the years. Eventually, I had to have the other cataract in the other eye removed as well and what a difference it made my vision. It’s like having a new set of eyes! ;-)

    I know exactly what you are experiencing. I bet you cannot wait to have the other eye done!

  32. emjayay says:

    It’s probably computer driven LEDs now.-

  33. microdot says:

    Wonderful to hear about your cataract surgery success! I did not realize that was the medical reason you were in France for! My wife is scheduled to have the surgery in October in Perigueux and understandably is a little concerned about it, but we have had many friends who have had the same procedure. I am going to show her this post! Thank you so much!

  34. Indigo says:

    Oh, wow! I don’t remember it doing that back in 1967. Maybe it did but I didn’t notice . . . Summer of Love and all . . .

  35. MJ says:

    Always interesting to remember how many people protested the Eiffel Tower being built, saying it was a monstrosity that would ruin the look of Paris.

  36. Drew2u says:

    Mildly relevant:

    Is there a way of photoshopping a picture to a before-surgery stage so we can see the difference?

    Mildlyer-relevant: a color test! (perhaps pre- and post- op?)

  37. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    The lens that nature gave me yellowed. I could see everything, but they were just dull looking. Without the yellow filter, the world is a brighter place. A lit Christmas tree in a darkened room can be a genuinely moving experience.

  38. Jim Olson says:

    Take the red pill, or the blue pill. Your choice.

  39. heimaey says:

    Way too meta for me!!! Enjoy Paris Je suis jaloux

  40. And who knows if either of us are seeing the real thing, or perhaps we’re the only ones seeing what’s real :)

  41. heimaey says:

    I see the bright colors too John but I usually take psylocibin in order to get the effect.

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