Retina Check

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. We’ve had a bunch of things going on that took (and still take) priority. Friday afternoon I visited Dr. Garg for an appointment. He is my retina doc. I was hopeful that Dr. Garg would spot something that could be corrected. My vision has been mired around 20/400 for the last eight months or so.

Unfortunately, Dr. Garg didn’t notice anything new. When I asked him his opinion on why my vision has deteriorated he told me that the multiple issues of congenital glaucoma, cornea and cataract surgeries, and a retina that was “pooping out” (his words,) were the reasons. He explained that while he didn’t notice any problems with my retina he said that age and everything going on with my eye causes it to “wear out.” He said that, like a favorite shirt that you wear often, each time you wear it and then wash it, it starts to wear out over time. He told me to take zinc and extra vitamin C (along with my current multivitamin) to keep the cells in the retina alive and healthy for as long as possible.

I was obviously disappointed that he didn’t find something that could be corrected which would then give me improved visual acuity. On the bright side, if there is one, I will cut back on all the specialist appointments to twice per year for each. If there is a problem, I’ll first try my local ophthalmologist.

As I continue to look for things to help me see stuff I can’t, I’ve found an app for my iPhone that is a great magnifier. It is the only app I’ve ever paid for and bought it after trying most if not all of the free magnifier apps. It is Magnifier – Capture the Micro World! by Game Lingo. I tried it the other day when I was home alone and wanted to know the serving size and calorie count of walnuts. I was very excited when I was able to use my iPhone rather than take the bag into my office and put it under my reading machine. I’ve been hoping for a good app for the iPhone because I just didn’t want to carry something else in my pocket. I’ve been looking for a good hand-held magnifier, whether it be a regular magnifying glass or a digital device like the Pebble from Enhanced Vision, for the last six months or so. Once I use the app more, I’ll post a more in-depth review.

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My Eye, My Dad and Our Day

I’d been looking forward to today for the past dozen days. Back on 10 Dec, I went to my retina doc, who, as previously mentioned, noticed three things that he thought were causing my vision to be worse than it had been. Two of three “issues” were cornea related, while one was retina related (and not correctable.) Today, I had an appointment with my cornea doc, Dr. Ayres.

As I was getting out of the shower, I heard the phone ring. Jacob answered it downstairs. Since he didn’t come up to mention the call, I figured it wasn’t for me. Minutes later, after taking my morning eye drop, Jake came in and told me my mom called. He went on to tell me that my mom said my dad was having shortness of breath and chest discomfort and they were going to the hospital. I sat back on the bed and thought about canceling my appointment. Since my mom didn’t ask to get me on the phone, I assumed it was a precautionary trip to the hospital (I later found out my dad didn’t want to go to the hospital, but since he mentioned chest pain, the Maris Grove staff wouldn’t take no for an answer.) I tried to reach my mom on her mobile, but didn’t get an answer. I felt selfish, but I decided I’d keep my doctor’s appointment.

We arrived early for my 9.45 appointment (seven minutes is early for us…) After we checked in, Eliz tried to call my mom. She got the voicemail (and knowing my mom can barely make and receive calls, didn’t leave a message. A minute or two later, Eliz’s phone rang and she handed the phone to me since she needed some insurance info for the receptionist. It was my mom. I spoke to her and then my dad. My mom told me what was going on. My dad told me, “Don’t count the money yet.” At that point, I felt I made the right decision to go to my appointment.

A few minutes later, I went back into (Eye) Pod 1. I was able to read the L (but not the S) on the SL line (which is the 20/200 line.) Dr. Ayres came in a few minutes later. He asked how things were going and I told him about my appointment 12 days earlier with Dr. Garg. He seemed to get defensive when I told him what Dr. Garg said. Dr. Ayres then had a look at both eyes. He started on the right one and quickly moved on to the left after saying, “That one is trash.” This I already knew. I haven’t seen anything but light with that eye since the last century… After he looked at the left eye he told me that it looked pretty similar as previous visits.

He said the transplant looked good, though was less than perfect. (It’s from a 69 year old donor and I’ve had it for two years.) He didn’t see signs of rejection. He said he could do another transplant if I wanted, but he didn’t think it could be too much better. The downside was too steep for me, so we’ll revisit that at a later date. Dr. Ayres also noticed a bit of haze behind the lens implanted in the cataract extraction in April of this year. It’s called posterior capsule opacity. It can be dealt with doing a procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy. He said there is very little downside to this, so I am scheduled to have this done on 20 January. I’m not sure if this counts as my 16th surgery or not…

Once we finished up with my appointment, we headed down Route 1 to Riddle Hospital to see my dad. We spent about three hours with him. The cardiologist met with all of us and said he didn’t think the problem was a heart issue. After running Jane to a friends for a birthday party and a trip to Newark DE to pick up a small order, we returned to Riddle at 5.15. We visited with my dad for about 45 minutes and then took my mom home, stopping for dinner on the way (she treated us to Ruby’s Diner.) My dad was tired and seemed to want us to go. Hopefully he gets some rest and is able to go home tomorrow.

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Latest on My Eyes

For the last several days, I was thinking about what I was going to write for this blog entry. My eyes weren’t going to be part of the post. One year ago today I started paying attention to what and how much I was eating. Through mid-summer, I lost about 80 pounds. I’ve been in maintenance mode since then, eating about 1800 calories a day. I will create a post dedicated to how I did it and a spreadsheet to track your daily caloric intake. For now, just know that this scale was instrumental in my weight loss. It’s $25 and you get free shipping.

The thoughts on my post changed once I went to see my retina specialist, Dr. Garg. I figured in the last couple of days, there might be a conflict on what to write about because of my appointment, but only if there was anything new with my left eye (the one that sees more than light.) Sure, I’ve noticed my vision getting worse over the past months. It’s been brutally frustrating, but when we left for my appointment I thought I’d get a, “Everything looks okay, I don’t know why you’re having these new troubles…” Today, Dr. Garg noticed three things that are most likely causing the decrease in my vison and only one of them has to do with my retina.

It seems that the only issue with my retina is from folds that developed from my pressure being low for a long period of time following a trabeculectomy (glaucoma surgery) back in 2003. Dr. Garg told me that even though my pressure has been in the “normal” range (for me) over the last five years, the folds will never go away (just like you can never get a piece of paper completely smooth again after it’s been folded.) This will slowly take my vision. Dr. Garg said if that were my only eye issue, it really wouldn’t be too big a deal. The other issues Dr. Garg saw today were both cornea related. One is corneal edema, or swelling of the cornea. The other issue has to do with the transplant I had two years ago. He said there was some cloudiness behind the new (to me, 69 years old to the original owner) endothelia. Dr. Garg stated he thought that happens in about 25% of transplants. I’ll know more when I visit my cornea specialist in about 10 days.

When we left the appointment, I said to Eliz that at least there was something there and I wasn’t imaging it. I was somewhat happy. It seems that the cornea issues can be handled with meds and a “procedure” (which makes me think of City Slickers – “You’ll have surgery, but call it a procedure…”) After we returned home and I thought about it, I realized that for the first time in my life, I can’t keep my vision from getting worse. From the time I was a young boy, I was always told ‘there’s no way to improve your vision, we’re just hoping to maintain it.’ Of course, I had hopes and dreams over the years that something would come along… Now, my vision can’t even be maintained. I hope it’s not a slippery slope.

This post is sponsored by the EatSmart Precision Pro Multifunction Digital Kitchen Scale. It has an extra large LCD readout (which means that I can see it when I’ve got my reading glasses on) and an 11 pound capacity. I’ve used this product since last December to lose weight. I weigh everything in grams, because, to me, it is easier using a whole number. If you want to drop some weight, this is a tool that will certainly help you.

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