Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Out Damned Spot

Hi all,

Over the past few months my vision has been losing focus, especially after a bout of conjunctivitis about two months ago. I began to interrogate my eyes by reading with one or the other closed and discovered the left eye, the one most badly affected by conjunctivitis, had an opaque patch, right in its centre. It was like trying to read through badly scratched spectacles. I noticed too, that the world become a lot clearer when I just peered at it from the right eye.

I made an appointment to see an optometrist, but got a bad dose of bronchitis, missing both it and work. As I waited for my bronchitis to disappear, I thought the opaque spot was probably the reason my eyes felt tired a lot of the time, as the left eye strained to see through the fog and the right wondered what was up with its partner. I also noticed my eyesight seemed hazier on cloudy days.

I remembered being told a few years ago that I had cataracts slowly forming on my eyes. The optometrist assured me that they shouldn’t be a problem “for years”. That to me meant decades, not four or so years. My mother had cataracts removed from her eyes last year, so I shouldn’t get them for decades. An ad on the television suggested everyone over fifty – not quite yet – should get an eye test for macular degeneration, and then a software developer appeared on Millionaire Hotseat who suffered from it. With glasses on, he said Eddie was a blur. How the hell did he write software?

My bronchitis finally started to settle after two weeks and I rang and made another optometrist appointment. When I got there, a child with a patch over an eye, prolonged my suspense. Cataract or Macular Degeneration? An optimist might have been thinking, hoping that a few eye drops would clear up the problem. Finally it was my turn.

I stressed to the optometrist that as I was a writer my eyes were bloody important to me. In other words, don’t stuff your diagnosis up. I then told him about the opaque patch. No reaction. I mentioned the conjunctivitis, no reaction. I told him I swam for three and three quarter hours a week, no reaction. Maybe he did not connect swimming with chlorine. He asked me whether my family had a history of eye problems. Not my damned genes again.

He left the room to test the strength of all the glasses I had brought down with me. When he came back, he tested each eye: eye charts, dot charts, bright lights, grid patterns, a puff of air into each eye, the whole works as I waited for a groan of discovery.

He finally finished and told me I had cataracts. Great, just what every writer wants. He told me that they would only be done once, and then spent five minutes dampening my concerns about what if I got them again when I was old, as he explained that as they cut out the eye’s lens and replaced it with a plastic lens, I would never get cataracts again. I just love the thought of someone cutting my eyes.

Now I have to wait three weeks to see an eye doctor, who hopefully won’t come up with any reasons why the cataracts can’t be removed.

At least he only does one eye at a time so if he stuffs up that eye, I can tell him to forget about doing the other.

I want another body, this one keeps breaking down.


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