October 21, 2010

My Eyes Really No Longer Have It

Until we took a family vacation to New York City and Washington, D.C. before I started the fourth grade, I had perfect vision. That summer, though, when I couldn't read the plaques at the National Archives, my parents realized I needed glasses, and it's been downhill ever since.

I just came from my fourth visit to the eye doctor in three months. For years I've hated going because my more than occasional inability to choose between "one" and "two" frustrates my doctor and embarrasses me, and because unlike most people whose eyes start to "even out" at a certain age, mine continue to get more nearsighted and astigmatic each and every year.

When I went in for my annual exam in August, I complained that my left eye didn't feel right when I wore my contacts. My doctor diagnosed chronic dry eye and started me on the obscenely expensive Restasis. The drops helped, but when I went to pick up my new prescription for contacts in early September, I couldn't see well out of them...and my left eye still felt strange. So he adjusted the prescription.

I picked up that pair of contacts a couple of weeks ago, and rather than waiting to try them on at home, I tried them on in his office, and lo and behold, I couldn't see well at all. The tech freaked me out and suggested all kinds of horrendous reasons why my eyes had gotten so bad in such a short period of time. But then I realized that she couldn't be right because I could still see relatively well with my glasses, which were one or two prescriptions old. So the problem couldn't be with my eyes, but rather with how the contacts fit them.

My doctor agreed, and that my left eye continued to feel very strange when wearing a contact lens indicated to him that I needed a different fit. Because of my nearsightedness and astigmatism, only one kind of contacts have been available to me for years, and when I reminded him that when I used to wear gas permeable lenses he had to send me to a lab for them to map my cornea, he decided that the curvature of my lenses needed to be increased. When I left his office early this month, it was with a right lens that provided reasonably good vision, albeit a bad fit, and with a left lens that in fact was over-correcting, and with a decidedly bad fit. I've walked around like that while waiting for the new lenses to arrive, which hasn't been at all pleasant, and today I picked them up.

I'm happy to report that my left eye no longer feels strange, and that with my new lenses my nearsighteness basically disappears. Unfortunately, the farsightedness that only recently cropped up - and only when I don't have enough light to read - is all of a sudden markedly worse. So much worse, in fact, that now I'm unable to use my smartphone easily. In response my doctor suggested keeping the right eye's contact lens as is while backing off on the correction for the left eye in order to balance the farsightedness he kept waiting to hit. After trying a variety of lenses, we settled on one. In the interim I'm going to keep those drugstore reading glasses I picked up awhile ago very close by, particularly while working when I need to read an ISBN because it won't scan.

Hard to imagine that in my small immediate family I'm the one with the best vision, isn't it?


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