Friday, November 16, 2007

Denial, and how it works for me. Or not.

I've been having problems with my vision becoming unstable. I've worn contacts since I was 16, 40+ years now, and the very best thing about them is they slowed down the decline in my vision. I think I've been wearing the same prescription for decades. But I haven't gone to an eye doctor regularly, like I should.

Sometime back in the 1980s, the big thing was radial keratotomy, which was the percursor to today's LASIK. It's best for people with moderate nearsightedness, but my vision was already at the "Chart, what chart?" stage. But the correction was good enough for me to use that eye for close vision and my right eye, still corrected with a contact lens, for distance. This is called monovision. It causes headaches in some folks, but it worked fine for me for many years.

This past August, when I went to a movie with a friend we sat in the last row (stadium seating, my choice) and I realized everything was slightly blurry. I also drove her back to her hotel, downtown, across the street from where I work, and realized that I was having difficulty seeing clearly. So I ratcheted up the denial and decided it was my "night vision" and I mostly stayed off the roads after dark. Couple that denial with the really stupid stoicism I inherited from my dad and you--well, I--have a problem.

So, now we're back on Standard Time and I'm driving home in the dark and having to finally admit to myself that my vision has gotten significantly worse. Especially since I was having problems recognizing people at work (in my defense, we have a lot of contractors who come and go), seeing detail on TV, etc. So I figured I needed a new prescription, right? I mean, it's been decades. My other motivation is that my favorite cousin, who has been living in Australia for over 25 years now, is coming for a month in early December, and bringing her youngest daughter, Lisa, with her. In two days I'd looked up providers and made an appointment a block away from my office.

On Thursday at 1:35 pm I met Dr. Michele Bloomer who is my newest hero. She gave me the most thorough eye exam I've ever had, spent about 90 minutes with me and in addition to telling me she thought I was her age (43!) informed me I had cataracts in both eyes and should have surgery. There was not an option for stronger contacts and she informed me I would never be able to wear glasses, because there was too much difference in acuity between my eyes. I'd last seen an opthamologist about 4 years ago who'd sighed with frustration because he couldn't get good readings and advised me I had a small cataract growing. He didn't tell me (or I don't remember) in which eye. Dr. Bloomer was surprised that I had them at my age (young for cataracts) and also told me about the different approach she'd have to use to correct my left eye, because of the incisions in my cornea from my previous RK surgery. I'll be scheduled for surgery Dec. 4. Right eye first.


Amy said...

Wow, you are really young for cataracts. Good luck. I've heard some amazing stories about how good cataract surgery is these days, especially in the recovery period, so hopefully yours will be one of those amazing stories.

Kitt said...

Oy. Good luck! At least it's something fixable.