Friday, June 22, 2007

Eyeballs can be a b**ch

I need some love time with my scanner at so I can really kick this into high gear. I think I will start out with some Jack Kirby FF goodness. So for now, here is a slice of life update which is all about my eye.

I don’t know why but I have always had drama with my eyes. For years I was told I had to wear glasses because my astigmatism would not allow me to wear contacts. A few years back, geez must be like 6 or 7 now, my new eye doctor said I could. Not sure if the technology improved or if my eye doctor had improved. So that started the traumatic road to getting contacts. The first problem was that I have “Large Eyeballs”. When my eye doctor told me I thought, “You have got to be kidding”. Who the heck has large eyeballs? Seriously.

So I had to special order my lenses and of course, they cost extra. Once I stared wearing contacts, another problem arose. Actually it was one I should have thought of before. I was raised in New York/New Jersey where allergies are not that common. Since I moved to Fresno, where the air quality is about equal to a Chinese sweat shop chimney, I have had allergies that have been getting worse and worse as I get older. Before I started taking Claritin and Allegra, I would actually be totally incapacitated by allergies. I had non-stop running noses, stabbing sinus pain, and eye trouble. On a given day my eyes would either be pouring forth viscous tears all the time or be so dry you could polish a bowling ball if you held one up against it.

Contact lenses did not help. On teary days they sometimes floated right out of my eye, often clinging to my cheek. On dry days they just plain hurt and I had to insert a regular stream of drops. With the newer allergy medications, it kind of minimized he problems but I still had some teary days and some dry days. I learned to cope with this for the “convenience” of wearing contacts. All this bemused my wife who is constantly giving me guff about my eye problems.

Last New Years Eve, we got invited to a New Years Eve party at an old friend’s house which was nice because generally, we are the ones who always throw the parties. About halfway through the party, my left eye starts bugging me. It wasn’t too worried because in the prior weeks, I had suffered through a mild eye infection so I thought I would just need to get some more anti-biotic drops. The pain got worse and worse as the night wore on. We came home early and I slept for a bit. I woke in the middle of the night with severe eye pain.

How weird is that? I mean, if you are going to wake up with pain, you would think it would be like a leg cramp, or a stomach thing but no, this is my eye. I have to say, this was the worst pain I had experienced since I had broken my leg when I was 12. It was that bad. Of course it is 5 a.m. on New Years Day. So if I want to try and get some help, it means driving to the hospital emergency room. I tried to tough it out but I really could not see that well out of either eye and even blinking was killing me. So I hoped in my Saturn and drove the 8 miles to St. Agnes in the fog. It was foggy outside and my eyes were all fogged. Nice!

They basically told me I had a bad case of conjunctivitis which is an infection of the membranes around the eyeball. Pink Eye is actually conjunctivitis. So I got two prescriptions, an anti-biotic and Vicodin. They recommended I put the drops in every few hours and take enough pain killers to sleep. This was a holiday so even getting the medicine was a hassle as only one or two stores in Fresno had their pharmacies open that day.

I took my pain meds and basically slept for two days until I could get in to see a specialist at Eye-Q Vision. By now, the pain had dropped some but I could see NOTHING out of my right eye. My left eye, where the infection started, was doing ok. Well they gave me more antibiotic’s to use and I started seeing my eye doctor twice a week. I wish now I had taken a picture of my eye at its worst. It was a pink and white blob that looked all bumpy and distorted. Just gross.

It was during the second visit to the new doctor that things took a turn for the worse. He told my wife and me that once the infection is gone, the scarring might be so bad that I would not recover the sight in my right eye. I might have the 20/400 vision forever. He didn’t want to talk about it because he was focusing on curing the infection. The weeks went by and the eye started looking better. My vision came back some, but it was very much like looking at life in a steamed up mirror after a shower. I spent a lot of time with my right eye closed because it was so sensitive to light. That and having one eye send you blurry pictures gives you a headache as your brain tries to make it work with the clear images from your other eye.

By the end of January, I was declared infection free. However, as feared, the scarring on the cornea was quite bad still. It would be months before we would know if my vision would return or even if surgery would help matters. I saw my Eye doctor weekly, and then eventually, bi-weekly. My vision slowly came back but after February, it kind of plateaued. I could see ok but there was still a haze over everything I looked at through my right eye.

At the beginning of June, my doctor announced that as far as he could tell, the eye had gone as far as it was going to go. Surgery might improve it some but he doubted the haze would go away completely and I would still need corrective lenses when the surgery was done. Another option would be a cornea replacement, which he was not a fan of because of the need to constantly use drops. No, the best solution might be a hard contact lens.

My Dad wore hard lenses back in the seventies. These days no one wears them. I had zero understanding of why this might help me see better but I said goodbye to my doctor and was introduced to a new one, one who specialized in hard contacts. He explained to me why a hard contact lens might help.

Because my eye was so bumpy now with the scaring from the infection, the idea was to place a hard contact lens over all these bumps. Then hopefully, tears would come in behind the lens and fill in all the little valleys, essentially forming a new cornea out of glass and tears. That made sense. First order of business was something called a topography session. I sat in a chair while the assistant put this bowl like device with a million lights in it in front of me. This bowl would scan the eye and produce a topographic map of the cornea. You remember topographic maps right?

This is an example of “normal” eye topography.

The brighter the color, the more protruding the surface of the eye is. No one has a perfect sphere. Here is my troublemaker left eye.

It looked pretty normal considering I have had an astigmatism all my life so my left eye has never been close to a sphere. No problem there. Then they scanned my right eye.

Wow! Everyone in the place was amazed. The assistant passed my printout around the office. Doctors were amazed. No one had ever seen a scar in the shape of a perfect “S” before. Not on a cornea anyway. This was particularly ironic because my last name starts with S, and Superman is kind of a hobby of mine (you’ll see how bad in future posts). Everyone at work of course was like “WOW Superman!” It was all fun and games sure but we are looking at my friggin eye here folks. No not cool! That’s a bad scar. No one was sure if the hard contact lens would work or not because the shape was so weird.

Right now I am waiting for my custom made lens to come in so we can try it on to see if it helps my vision. As it is I can live with my vision as it is. According to my tests, my right eye is about 20/40. The problem is really the haze. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

1 comment:

brodiemash said...

Good luck with everything, man. We rarely stop to think about the little things we take for granted till bad stuff like this happens. I've been wearing contacts for years and I know that my vision is getting worse and it scares the shit out of me. I hope everything works out. Good luck!