Sight and Vision Vocabulary
So Vicki, what are you wearing over your right eye?
This is my eye guard and I’m wearing it to protect my eye. I don’t actually need to be wearing it indoors. But I wear it when I go to bed at night.
But why do you have it?
Because I’ve had cataract surgery.
We’re looking at words about sight and seeing today.
And some American and British differences.
I want to share my story because I’ve had a wonderful life changing experience.
So let’s start at the beginning. You’ve always worn glasses or contacts, right? Contacts is short for contact lenses.
So when did you start wearing glasses.
Um, I can remember when I was about 7 years old – 6, 7 years old I think – that somebody noticed that I was having trouble reading the blackboard at school and I kept getting out of my seat to go see what it… what was written on it. And um, they realized that I might have an eyesight problem. And that was when I started wearing glasses.
I hated glasses, but even when I squinted I couldn’t see anything.
Squinting is when you look at things with your eyes partly shut so you can see better.
Now, we would say in the US that you are nearsighted.
OK, and I would say I’m short-sighted. And so … In the UK we have short-sighted and long-sighted. And you have…
Nearsighted and farsighted.
OK, farsighted has a different meaning for us. If someone is very wise and they plan ahead for the future, then we say they’re far-sighted. But you have that word in American English too.
Right. Farsighted people are visionaries.
By the way, I’m farsighted.
No, I am.
So here’s our first British and American difference. Short-sighted and long-sighted are the everyday terms for me. The medical terms are myopia and hypermetropia.
We say myopia and hypermetropia in the US as well and we might also say hyperopia for farsighted.
And far-sighted has one meaning in British English and two in American.
It means you can’t see things that are close up, like me
Or it means you have great imagination, and you can see into the future.
And that’s its meaning in the UK.
So, you were prescribed glasses and what happened?
I wore them for years until I was about 15 and then contact lenses came along. And contact lenses were quite new at that time. They were hard lenses and these days when you get hard lenses you can get gas permeable lenses which means that they let air through into your eyes. But back then they didn’t have anything fancy like that.
Now there are hard lenses and there are soft lenses.
I don’t think soft lenses existed back then. But these days they have soft disposable lenses where you just wear them for a day and throw them away.
And you’ve tried these?
Yeah, but I found them too hard to put in and take out. Soft lenses are really floppy and it’s hard to control them. And I couldn’t see which way round to wear them sometimes. So I wore them inside out.
How bad was your eyesight?
Oh terrible. I could see things if they were here, but everything was a blur here. And then I developed cataracts.
Tell us what cataracts are.
As you get older your vision sometimes deteriorates – gets worse. So sometimes the lens in your eye goes cloudy and that’s what’s happened in my eyes.
So I met with my optician who you call…
OK and she said you don’t need new contact lenses. You need cataract surgery. But then I had to wait a long time because the pandemic hit. And we didn’t want to do it while the pandemic was going on. So, I’ve been walking around having trouble seeing for a long time.
There was another British and American difference there.
Yeah. What do you call the people who recommend and sell glasses and contacts?
They’re optometrists. And informally a lot of people call them the eye doctor.
In British English we call them opticians. And then there are doctors who study diseases of the eye.
We call them eye doctors too or ophthalmologists.
Now, you met with the ophthalmologist. Right?
Well, after the optician, I saw the… I think we call them an ophthalmologist as well – they’re the doctor. And he took lots and lots of measurements. I had to keep going back, um, because they thought that I might have astigmatism. And astigmatism is when – what is it?
The retina at the back of your eye is curved oddly.
But, in fact, it wasn’t a problem. So, I’m all right.
And then you had the procedure!
Yeah. They replaced my old cloudy lens with a new clear artificial one.
It’s called an intraocular lens. It fits inside the eye.
So it’s different to having Lasik surgery where they reshape the surface of your eye. This was like having a little implant.
And they did it at the hospital.
I was an outpatient which means I went into hospital for the surgery, but I didn’t have to stay there.
How long did the procedure take?
About twenty minutes.
And were you conscious?
Yes. Well sort of. They gave me some anesthetic, so I was relaxed and it didn’t hurt. But I was still awake and I felt them working on me.
So it’s amazing for you, right?
It’s absolutely astonishing. It’s um… I didn’t realize how bad my eyesight was until I had the surgery. And now, I can see again out of this eye – not this eye yet.
And you have a couple of weeks for the next one?
Yeah and then in a couple of weeks I’m gonna have this eye done as well. So if I look out of the new eye, out of the eye with the new lens, everything is very clear. But if I close that and look out of this eye, then everything is cloudy and also it’s dark. It’s sort of a sepia color. You know that old photos? They were sepia, a sort of browny color. This eye – the colors are vibrant.
So when you look at me, do you see something new?
Um, yes! I didn’t realize how many wrinkles you’ve got.
I was joking, but it’s just wonderful. I’ve never seen the world like this before It’s way better than glasses or contacts and I’m so thrilled.
Just a little update. We shot that video two weeks ago and I’ve since been in, had my other eye done and it was successful. So now I’m throwing away all my contact lenses, my glasses. Everything’s going. It’s fantastic!
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Thank you all for watching. Bye now.