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Eye & Vision Message Board

Eye & Vision Board Index

I’ve had to deal with eye problems most of my adult life; completely lost my eyesight, back in the 1970’s, due to simultaneous cataract, high glaucoma pressure, and 360 degree retina detachments in both eyes. Over the course of a weekend I went from 20/20 vision to hand movements at 2 feet; that was my visual acuity, the technician would move her hand in front of my face and at 2 feet I would tell her that I see something moving.

It took about three years and a half dozen eye surgeries for them to restore my vision. I now have 20/30 vision in both eyes and also implants in both eyes; the left eye has a glaucoma implant; which is a very little sack, made from some flexible material, surgically placed under the skin in the upper white portion of my left eye. It has a fine tube which goes from the sack to my sinuses. Glaucoma pressure is caused from a buildup of fluid in the eye, so this sack fills up with optical fluid and drains it in my sinuses, which I excrete nasally or by mouth. It seems to be keeping my glaucoma pressure down. My left eye pressure was consistently higher than my right eye, so I only have this implant in my left eye.

My right eye has a retina implant, clinically called a “buckle sclera,” the sclera is the white part of the eye, and I have a belt around my right eyeball, called a “buckle,“ which is made of some type of permeable material, and holds my retina in place. I had cryro treatments and laser treatments on my retina but they were more effective on the left eye than the right, thus the buckle sclera.

The many ophthalmologist whom I’ve seen over the years really don’t know the etiology of my eye problems; some say that I was born with a hidden eye defect which did not activate until I was in my twenties, others say that my eye problems may be from agent orange during my military service in Vietnam. But there is no real definitive answer, regardless, I’m just overjoyed that I now have my eyesight. I take several different kinds of glaucoma drops morning and night but otherwise my eyes are stable.

I wanted to share something about my experience of being blind. Initially it was a major freak-out. I had to see a psychiatrist, because I lost my eyesight over a 72 hour period without any warning. I had regular vision checkups yearly with no concerns from my eye doctor, but on Friday my eyes were clear and I had 20/20 vision, Saturday I started seeing halos around lights, the moon, etc. and on Sunday curtains came down; a thick sheet oozed down over my eyes covering my vision, and I called 911 and got myself to a hospital emergency room, but no eye doctors were available until Monday morning, when all I could see were blurred colors and refracted light. They stuck a needle in my eye ball, using only a topical anesthetic, to withdraw fluid for testing. It was quite an ordeal. I go through this testing of my eye fluid, for infections, etc, about every 3 or 4 years.

Over time I got used to not being able to see, and I learned a great deal. I learned about money; how to tell the difference in dollar bills, and the texture and sizes of various coins. I had an organization called “Recording for the Blind” record all of my college textbooks on audio tape. It was a fascinating experience when people spoke to you, what they said could be felt, the passion or lack of passion in their voice and how they used words. There was no assessment of their mannerisms, what they were wearing, their facial expressions, etc. because I couldn’t see those things. No television or driving a car; it was a major lifestyle change which over time I grew very comfortable with.

I have been through a total of 12 eye surgeries; six on each eye, but it only took 6 surgeries, 3 on each eye, before my vision would return. It was also frightening getting my vision back; it took an adjustment; learning how to use my vision, judging distances, etc. My vision came back gradually; it went from hand movements at 2 feet, to hand movements at 6 feet, to 20/600, 20/400, and today it is 20/30.

In retrospect those years without eyesight was a gift, because some of the other things which I learned was seeing is not believing, and also, while we may look with our eyes we see with our awareness. I saw things when I was blind which I refused to see, or couldn’t see, when I had 20/20 vision. My awareness was more keen than it was with sight. Today I see an eye doctor about every 6 months, my eyes are still very light sensitive, but I’m not complaining, and I am very diligent about my meds and eye health.

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