Monday 28 July 2008

worry wort....

I had a return visit to the professor this evening. It's now one week since I had surgery on my right eye and two weeks since I had surgery on my left. It was time to pop back to make sure that everything was still all as it should be.

Today was my first day back at work since either operation. For much of the last two weeks, I have been spending my time getting used to my revised visual circumstances in the comfortable environment of my own home. My vision has essentially been okay: my eyes get tired fairly easily and I've been getting a lot of early nights, but fundamentally I've not really had any problems. Being back in the office was a wholly different experience, however, and although I could still basically see everything ok, it was still definitely a bit weird to be looking at the huge pile of unread emails in my inbox. I was using my eyes in a very different way. It's hard to explain, but although I could read everything alright, I was seeing things in a different way to the way I have seen them before, and it's going to take a bit of getting used to.

The professor has proved not to be the most forthcoming of men. He's one of the foremost experts in his field anywhere in the world, but his communication skills leave a fair bit to be desired. He doesn't exactly volunteer information, and I've learned that if I want to know something, I have to ask him directly. He's an extremely skilled surgeon, no doubt, but I still wish that he had provided me with something as simple as a single-sided fact sheet to help me understand what to expect before, during and after the surgery. As it is, I have largely been left to my own devices, and with my overactive imagination, that's a pretty terrible state of affairs. Over the last two weeks, as you might have expected, I have found a few things to keep my brain occupied. Initially, my fretting focused upon the quality of the vision in my left eye. It was pretty good - good enough to drive after the first week, apparently - but it seemed a bit blurry to me, and I took to wandering around, alternately closing my left eye and then my right eye to try and assess exactly how bad my left eye was compared to my right. The two eyes together were fine, but like the itch you can't help but scratch, I was determined to focus on the perceived shortfall in the vision in my left eye. That was all to be expected, I suppose, but then on Saturday evening, I found something else to worry about. We went to the cinema to watch "The Dark Knight" (superb - a dark, character driven blockbuster to treasure. Frank Miller would approve, and Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker is perhaps the single most frightening I have ever seen on film....better than Hopkins' Lecter, for starters. Yes, that good.) It was great, but it's a very dark film and mostly filmed at night, and I began to notice that in the very darkest scenes, I was starting to see the image ghosting and breaking up in my right eye. It took me a while to realise what it was, but then it dawned on me that what I was seeing was the pupil in my right eye dilating past the edge of the implanted lens. It wasn't so bad, but it did make me worry about what this would mean in the longer term for my ability to do things like drive at night. How was I going to be able to manage oncoming headlights if I was going to be seeing multiple images and fractured light beams? Once I had noticed it happening in the cinema, I began to notice it happening in other places too when the light was dim and my pupil dilated. I soon forgot about any perceived blurring in my left eye and began to fret about that instead.....

I was determined to get some answers from the professor this evening: could I expect the vision in my left eye to improve? was the lens in my right eye too small and was my pupil going to dilate past it every time it got dark? And most importantly, when could I start running again?

As is apparently normal for a man with three useless secretaries and a background in the NHS, we were kept waiting for about an hour as his clinic ran over (The lighting in the waiting room was causing ghosted images through my right eye, but to be honest, I felt more sorry for the poor guy who had obviously just had surgery on one eye and couldn't see out of the other one... he was really struggling). The waiting time gave me plenty of time to worry and to formulate exactly how I was going to get the professor to actually answer some of my questions. As it turned out, it was relatively easy and I just had to ask and keep asking until I got some kind of an answer. The vision in my two eyes is excellent and the sight in my left eye is comfortably good enough to drive and may get better as it settles. The fracturing of light and the ghosted images in my right eye are apparently completely normal and will disappear over time as my eye and my brain get used to them (it's apparently something to do with the images landing on parts of my retina that I've never used before). In fact, I think my fretting about the quality of the vision in my left eye somewhat upset the professor's professional pride.... he thinks I've got an excellent result and that the quality of my vision will only improve from here, and here I was worrying about some perceived blurriness and wondering about residual astigmatism that he assumed I wouldn't even notice. He fished out some lenses and had a quick look at how far "off" my left eye was. Um. Not much. He used a couple of lenses to sharpen the image I could see, but significantly it didn't improve how many lines on the chart I could see, only sharpening a line I could already read. I'm going back in three weeks and by then my eyes should have settled. We'll have another look then and decide what we should do about any remaining problems. I may need the lens adjusting. I could perhaps have laser surgery on top of the implant. I could even get a pair of glasses to help me when my eyes get tired (which - let's face it - would hardly be the end of the world. My world has already changed amazingly for the better). What seems most likely to happen though is that my eyes will settle and I will manage just fine with my eyes the way they are. The vision between my two eyes is already good and is likely to get better as they settle down.

Apparently, and this will be news to nobody, I worry too much. A better idea of what to expect would from the surgery would have been nice, for sure but I still need to relax and stop worrying.


In summary: everything's fine.

It's only been a couple of weeks.... give it time.

... and breath.

No strenuous exercise for another 3 weeks though. Now that'll be really hard.


  1. Reading this flags up another reason I didn't go ahead with the lasering at the end of last year - I would have worried myself absolutely senseless. (One of the clinics I looked into actually states in its bumph that they don't treat patients who have or do suffered from depression, as they may have unrealistic expectations!)

    I think it's only natural to worry - it's your eyes, for goodness sakes - and especially if you've not been given as much information as you would have liked. But it sounds like it's all coming along nicely, which is great news.

    Incidentally, a woman I work with had the laser surgery - which I know is not the same thing - and said she had to effectively re-train her eyes after it, because they were used to working in a certain way to focus. The thing she specifically mentioned was using the computer. After about six weeks, she couldn't even remember what she'd been like before the procedure.

  2. cat - retraining my eyes is a really good way of putting it, as that's exactly what it feels like. Objectively, my vision in front of my PC isn't that much different, but I seem to be "seeing" it differently, and it's taking a bit of adjusting.

    I've also started to notice that the steroids drops I'm using are blurring my vision slightly, and they're apparently increasing the pressure in my eye too (as normal usage of them will do over time). I'm being ramped back to a lighter dose in my left eye and will do the same in the right eye in a week. I'll know a lot better where I stand in 3 weeks time when I've stopped using drops entirely.

    It's funny too that as a glasses wearer, I'd been used to having *both* eyes corrected fully. Now my left seems a touch worse than my right, although okay by itself and more than okay with both together... but my brain is having to adjust to the new balance.

    It takes time. Apparently there's a phenomenon known as "greedy vision" where people who have a procedure done aren't happy and want tweaks... that's something I'm keen to avoid. If my left eye is good enough when it all settles down, then I'd rather not fiddle for the sake of vision that would be no better than my two eyes together anyway. I'd also like to resist glasses for as long as I can... partly because once I've got them, I'll end up wearing them loads and making it harder for my brain to adapt.

    If I need them for when I'm tired though, I won't hesitate. I don't have a problem with them per se.

  3. give it up Karen. Spam will be deleted.