Thursday, April 13, 2006

I Can See All Obstacles In My Way

A few months ago, I became aware of some double vision in my left eye—just a ghostly outline of the real image, a little offset to the right. I probably didn’t even notice it until it started to interfere with my reading, with ghost letters crowding out the real ones. This caused me to panic momentarily. Having considerable background in neurology, and a little in neurosurgery, but none in opthamology, I immediately thought of the various brain tumors and degenerative neurological conditions that can give you double vision. Eventually I thought to check if I had double vision with my glasses off, which I didn’t, which was relieving.

So I made an appointment with my O.D., a likeable, bright, nattily-dressed woman of Middle Eastern descent. This is a routine I’ve gone through every year or two since third grade. Vision gets a little blurry, go to the eye doc, look at a bunch of letters, repeatedly answer the question (“Better 1, or 2? Better 1, or 2”?) and walk out with a new prescription that leads to crisp, clear vision.

The appointment, two weeks ago, went pretty much along those standard lines, until the very end, when Dr. N said, “Well, there’s something wrong. I can’t get your left eye as good as it should be.” There followed a battery of foreign tests: a diagram to look at with cross-hatched lines. A slit-lamp exam. A trip across the hall to the corneal topographer machine (a cool device somewhere between Sleeper and Dr. Seuss, which I thought would look good in my livingroom). A review of the print-out of my corneal topography. A furrowed brow. She couldn’t find anything wrong. She wanted me to come back in two weeks, to consult with their corneal specialist. In the meantime, she wanted me to use warm compresses and artificial tears, because there was a chance my “tear film” was inadequate and affecting my vision.

I didn’t buy that. Warm compresses are, surely, the opthomological equivalent of two aspirin and call me in the morning. I went home wondering if I’d ever see well again. I took some solace in my newly-minted disability policy, which pays automatic disability if you lose sight in one eye. But this didn’t seem like good news for skiing.

Today, after two weeks of placebo hot-packs and troublesome eye drops, I was back looking at the eye charts. This time, 20/20, both eyes. “You don’t know how relieved I am”, said Dr. N. “If this hadn’t worked, it was going to be a visit with Dr. L and a trip to Major Metropolitan Area for you.” She also noted, with a tone of pride, that my eye had gone from “two-plus crusting” to “no crusting” (I hesitate to share this detail, but there it is.)

High on this reprieve from blindness (and, worse, a trip to the medical megalopolis of Mjr. Met. Area) I drove by Boat #1 on the way home, just to have another look.


Blogger Katinka said...

My friend Lisa has something similar...her tear ducts have stopped producing enough fluid, leading to aggrevated, painful eyes and diminished vision. She recently found a natural product that seems to be for those people out there with a similar condition, you might want to check out this:

4/13/06, 11:29 PM  
Anonymous Co-Chief said...

I have a friend who had something even scarier. He is a high-powered attorney from NYC who was attending a conference in Seattle when his vision in one eye SUDDENLY went blurry. In the UW emergency room, the work "macular degeneration" was used. Despite a lack of medical training, my friend was skeptical due to the rather acute onset of the blurriness. Back in NY he visited several specialists, who eventually told him that he had had a spontaneous rupture of the globe, with vitreous humor continuing to leak out the 'hole" in the posterior aspect of his eye. After a tenous surgical procedure 3 weeks later, his vision has been restored to near 20/20. A true miracle as a rupture of the globe, traumatic or otherwise, carries a dismal prognosis. The cause is an inherited defect in the structure of the eye called a coloboma. His case has been submitted to the journal RETINA.

4/15/06, 12:12 AM  
Blogger Katinka said...

Did you friend have diabetes? I can't even imagine how terrifying that would be...but what an incredible miracle that his sight was restored!

Turbo, we're all very glad you didn't have anything more serious! :)

4/15/06, 7:28 PM  
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