Sunday, April 15, 2012

Of Cataracts and Cameras--A Perspective on Seeing Clearly

Konica Minolta AF Maxxum 70 SLR Camera With Quantaray Lens
28-90 mm f/3.5-5.6
(Hawaiian Odysseus Photo)

It's of no small irony that the week after I listed this beautiful pre-owned camera on eBay, I received the official confirmation from an ophthalmologist in Walla Walla that I needed to have cataract removal surgery.

Now, that's disconcerting news enough. But to learn that both eyes needed the surgery, well, that took me for a loop.

Both my parents developed cataracts and had to have surgery in their late seventies. So the odds of my getting cataracts at an even younger age were even greater. Sure enough, I won the cataract lottery--not just once, but twice.

 (Hawaiian Odysseus Photo)

On paper, cataract surgery seems simple enough. After local anesthesia is applied, a needle pierces the lens and breaks it up into small pieces. Through a suction process that, for personal reasons, I really don't want to and am not qualified to write about, the pieces are removed. An artificial lens is then installed. If all goes well, after a relatively short recuperation period, the patient is able to see quite clearly.

I was surprised to learn that cataract surgery is the #1 most common medical procedure in our country. 

So what does all of this have to do with the camera I listed?

 (Hawaiian Odysseus Photo)

Well, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then God's head must be swelling. Let's look at a timeline to understand a little bit more about man's attempts to make an artificial eye--the camera!
  • 1021 Ibn al-Haytham, an Iraqi Arab scientist, wrote Book of Optics, introducing the basic concept of a camera and the usage of a pinhole or lens to focus an external image onto an internal surface.
  • 1685 Johann Zahn developed the first handheld camera, but it would be many more years for the design to be implemented successfully.
  • 1814 The first photograph was taken by Joseph Nicephore Niepce. By exposing a bitumen coated pewter plate to light, Niepce was able to capture a temporary image.
  • 1814 Expanding on Niepce's idea, Frenchmen Charles and Vincent Chevalier built the first camera that could produce photos. However, there was no way to preserve the photos.
  • `836 Niepce's partner, Louis Jacques Daguerre, developed the first practical photographic process. Daguerrotype involved an image being made on a light-sensitive silver-coated copper plate.
  • 1840 For the first time, William Talbot generated positive images from negatives to produce permanent images.
  • 1888 George Eastman made his first camera and called it the Kodak. It was the very first camera to go on sale. 
  • 1889 Eastman, who had been making paper film for  years, replaced it with celluloid. He created a camera that was shaped like a box and had a single speed shutter mechanism.
By the turn of the century, the commercialization of cameras and the advancement in photography technology resulted in quantum leap advances.

(Hawaiian Odysseus Photo)

In the process of doing research and creatively interpolating facts with figments of my imagination-doing my own quantum leaping, so to speak--it struck me recently that it wasn't just coincidence that listing a camera on eBay and being diagnosed with cataracts were such closely aligned events in my life.

These things were meant to happen in close juxtaposition in order that I might understand...and in the understanding, find peace and acceptance.

If man had not been curious and just a wee bit narcissistic in his attempts to be just like heavenly Dad, he might not have attempted to devise a mechanical eye, or camera.

And if he'd given up after his first initial attempts or failed to improve on his predecessors' progress, technology would have gone the way of dinosaurs.

If cameras didn't exist, perhaps it would have been all the more challenging for medical school professors to illustratively and mechanically expound upon the wonders of the human eye. would still be stuck wondering what the other side of the moon looked like.

And what would it matter if all of mankind couldn't see very well after threescore years because of increasingly cloudy vision?

As it stands, if all goes well next month--and I'm praying for God's abundant favor, not just for me, but for my camera mechanic, the good ophthalmologist himself--I'll be seeing things a lot more clearly than I do now.

Although... a way...

my focus couldn't be sharper.

No comments:

Post a Comment