The Eyes Have It

In the course of writing this series of incoherent notes, I’ve listed the shopping list of ailments I’ve complained about over the years. Readers (both of you) have been subjected to tales of acid reflux, degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, cortisone injections, lymphedema, pinched nerves, back surgery, gall bladder removal, lithotripsies, macular degeneration, blah blah.

Time to add another distress to the list.

I’ve been undergoing treatment for macular degeneration in my left eye for several years now. For the first few years, treatment consisted of having Avastin injected into my eye twice a month. Yes, you read that right. Injected directly into my eyeball with a hypodermic needle. Although it sounds the stuff of cheap horror movies, it is not as painful as it sounds. It’s the anticipation, knowing what’s happening, seeing the tip of the needle enter your eye and spew out the medicine that would make you wince, if your eyelids weren’t clamped back. Sounds horrific, maybe, but considering the alternative is going completely blind in the affected eye, it was a small inconvenience.

The injections finally stopped the advance of the disease, and since then I’ve seen my opthamologist (whom I affectionately refer to as “iDoc”) three or four times a year to get checked. The disease has left me alone, and although I’ll never recover the amount of vision I lost in the eye, at least it’s not getting worse.

A few weeks ago I went in for my checkup appointment. Had my eyes dilated, did the chart thing, was led to an exam room where my eye pressure was measured and I was prepared for the exam.

My doctor came in, shined some bright lights in my eyes while looking through various magnification devices and dictating various opthamology terms to the assistant in the room with us.

I was given a clean bill of eye, the doc wished me to have a nice summer, and said he’d see me back in September.

The next day, I received a call from his office. I was told that the pressure in my eye was high enough to concern him, and he wanted me to come in for a double check.

I went in again the following week. My eye pressure was back to normal, but iDoc wanted me to see one of his colleagues who specialized in glaucoma to see if something could be done “prophylactically”. I giggled under my breath. Yeah, I’m 12 at heart.

Went the following week – last week- to see iDoc 2, who shined and measured and magnified and further tested, all the while dictating technical information to the assistant. I have no way of knowing how much of it she was able to catch, because iDoc 2 is that worst of combinations: fast talker/low talker. Nice enough guy and all, but he was speaking Latin to me for all I knew (and understood). After he told me whatever it was he told me, he made a few vocal notes in a hand-held recorder. I feel bad for whoever had to transcribe it, but they were probably familiar enough with his style that they could translate.

Anyway, the gist is, I have developed narrow angle glaucoma. You can read the details of the disease here. I’m happy to say that other than an occasional headache, I’m not exhibiting any of the other symptoms that would cause me to be concerned I’ll be blind this time tomorrow. I’m scheduled for a Laser Peripheral Iridotomy – laser surgery – on my right eye on July 19, on my left eye a week later.

Getting old sucks. But the alternative….well, you know.


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