Glaucoma Study

My latest Fields

My latest Fields Test done at Wills Eye during a glaucoma study.

Over the past year, Eliz and I have taken part in a glaucoma study at Wills Eye in Philadelphia.  I was asked if I’d be willing to participate and when they realized that Eliz would be bringing to each session, she was asked to participate as part of the control group.  Fortunately, Eliz doesn’t have glaucoma!  The study included a (torturous) visual fields test, IOP and vision  check, a questionnaire on how glaucoma affects your life, an obstacle course, spotting different size boxes around a room, dialing a “telephone,” reading in varying lighting conditions, spotting objects moving on a computer screen, and, my favorite, matching socks.  It takes about three hours to complete and we had to go in four times within a year.  Last Thursday (17 Sep) was our last session.

We were compensated $20 (total) and had our parking validated at each visit.  At the end of the study, we are each to receive $160 (which is due in the mail in the next week or two.)  To get paid to get a fields test is AWESOME!  It’s like getting paid to be water boarded…  The fields test is so exhausting to me, because I have trouble just looking at the dot in the center of the machine.  I only get the test done on my left eye, as my right eye can barely tell light from dark (I can tell light is shining on it by waving my hand between my eye and the light source, about 10 inches from my eye.  If I see a shadow, I know there’s light and six more weeks of winter.  Of course, I could always just open my left eye, but I like to know what I can see with the right eye.)  For those that haven’t taken a visual fields test, as you look at the center dot, a series of lights, ranging in size and intensity, flash all around the inside of the machine, one flash at a time.  You have button in your hand that you press if you see the light.  It’s kind of like being on a game show.  I would hope that I would hit the button more if I were on a game show…  I’ve posted my my fields test from that day so you can see the results, they weren’t pretty.

One of my concerns that day was the eye chart.  I could only see the big E at the top with my left eye (the “good” eye.)  That is the 20/400 line.  I was able to see the E on the 20/200 line, but only with the pinholes.  I have noticed over the past few months that my vision seemed to be slipping (again.)  I have also noticed some double vision, especially on lighter objects with a dark background.  This is extremely frustrating, because it has really effected my reading on the computer.  I have a local ophthalmologist appointment next week, a glaucoma specialist appointment the following week, and my cornea specialist appointment in mid-October.  Hopefully, one of them will be able to find the problem and fix it (though I’ve been waiting my whole life to have my problem fixed, so I won’t hold my breath.)

I was asked at the glaucoma study if I would be interested in participating in more studies.  I told them I’d be happy to so.  It upsets me when I see a young kid at Wills Eye to see a glaucoma specialist.  I know what is ahead for them and it isn’t fun.  I also know what you are now thinking, ‘With technology and stem cell research, they’ll be able to take care of that problem…’  I hope so, but pardon me for not being as optimistic.  Those same things have been said to me over the years, from the time I was in middle school to the present day by friends, teachers, coworkers, employees, and others.  I’m still waiting.