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My Myopia Is More Speshul than Urz

Finally, a health post that I don't have to lock down - even though it is something like #47 in the series of "How cho is not like other people."

In most people, myopia (near-sightedness or short-sightedness) is caused by lengthening of the front-to-back axis of the eyeball.

But it turns out that mine isn't. And this is actually something of a good thing.

The Story

I had my eyes checked back a couple of months ago because I had been getting headaches that seemed like eyestrain. And the Doctor of Optometry found that my left eye had jumped more than 2 steps worse - now it's about minus 11 diopters where it used to be about minus 8 (approximately the same as my right eye, and coincidentally, the strongest standard corrective snorkeling mask strength). So he wanted me to be checked out by proper ophthalmologists. The regular ophthalmologist, whom I saw last month, found nothing of interest.

Today I went to the retina specialists and things got interesting. The usual problem with extreme myopia is that you are at serious risk for retinal tears (as in "rip") and detached retina as your prescription gets worse. This is because, the doc informed me, you only have X amount of retinal tissue, ever, and as your eyeball gets less and less spherical and more and more elongated, that tissue gets stretched.

So I first had a thorough regular exam (like the one last month), and then they started putting drops in my eyes, first to dilate the pupil. Then they sent me to a little lab where I was injected (in the arm - that's all - you can breathe now!) with a yellow dye that would collect in my retinas, and I had my eyes held open while digital photos were taken of their insides. This allowed the doctor to make enlarged images of the back of the retina, where the optic nerve attaches. And that looked (he said) "really, really healhty."

So then he put more drops in my eyes, this time essentially anesthetizing their surface. And then he put a lens like a jeweler's loupe right up against my eyeballs so he could look in sideways at the portion of the retina near the front. At one point he poked my right eye with a blunt thing to make it squish a little. And I said ouch very loudly, because it did not feel good at all! (Turns out that the drops were one of the -caine anesthetics - I break those down much faster than most people.) And he said that that portion of my retinas looked very, very healthy too.

In fact, everything looks so healthy and wrong for someone with extreme myopia that he did another test free of charge. So now I can add my eyeballs to the list of parts that have had an ultrasound exam. And the shape of my eyeballs is completely normal!

So - my myopia is caused by corneal (lens) changes only. Oh, and he confirmed that I have very early signs of cataracts - in both eyes.

My pupils are still horribly dilated. I am sitting in a dim room with my monitor brightness turned way down.

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( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
telophase
Nov. 4th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
And coincidentally, my mom had cataract surgery Monday. She said it was incredibly simple and easy - 1.5 hours from the time her friend picked her up at her house to the time she was dropped back off. XD
chomiji
Nov. 5th, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)

Yeah, our friend Camille (who's about 6-7 years older than I am) had both eyes done (one at a time) this past year, and now she doesn't need glasses except for reading. I'm probably looking at the same within the decade.

I'm glad your Mom is doing well!

elsane
Nov. 5th, 2009 12:15 am (UTC)
oh, you are as nearsighted as I am! (and my prescription goggles were obtained in Hong Kong by a dear friend from graduate school. I don't think they make them in that strength in the US.) unfortunately my eyes *are* myopic in the more usual way. I also have tons of floaters. I'm also only 30. I live in dread of retinal problems. I'm very glad to hear about your retinas, but I will bite my fingernails for your corneas if you'd like some solidarity.

in other news, hi (:

chomiji
Nov. 5th, 2009 12:51 pm (UTC)

Yikes! That's early for those kind of problems ... I'm 51. He didn't seem excited about my corneas - the cataracts mean that I'll eventually need them replaced, but that's become almost ordinary (see telophase's note about her mother, above).

I'm wishing you the best for your eyes ... . And hi!

smillaraaq
Nov. 5th, 2009 12:23 am (UTC)
Oh, fun times -- not! *hugs and hands you sunglasses* I had the same sort of thing done a few years back when a regular eye exam turned up a bit of weirdness -- only my case my eyeballs are the classic myopic shape and I've just got a couple of tiny macular puckers (hmmm, I wonder if that whole retinal scarring process is related to being keloid-prone). More unpleasantly, that's where I found the shellfish/iodine issue also extends to a violent allergy to even the most allergy-friendly contrast dye. Yuck.
chomiji
Nov. 5th, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC)

Awww, yikes! The technician who did the dye-enhanced photos gave me a fairly hair-raising list of possible side-effects. Did you go into anaphylactic shock?

>hugs!<

smillaraaq
Nov. 5th, 2009 09:28 pm (UTC)
It wasn't full-blown, get-thee-to-the-emergency-room-NOW shock, but it was definitely an anaphylactic reaction, and terrifyingly quick since the stuff was directly in my bloodstream: I got light-headed, short of breath and violently nauseous within a minute or two of the dye, and the medicos promptly gave me Benadryl and watched me *very* closely to make sure the reaction didn't escalate any further. If that was the allergy-safe(r) version, I don't even want to imagine what the regular stuff would've done! o_O

(Oh, and after all that drama and poking and prodding? "Idiopathic bilateral macular pucker", which of course is just a fancy way of saying "fuck if we know why it's there". Gee, thanks for nothing.)
blue_hobbit
Nov. 5th, 2009 10:21 am (UTC)
Omg he poked your eye?! That's... scary O_O It's great that your eyes are so healthy though.

Oh, and I got your message! Sorry for not replying to the earlier one, I kept forgetting to. But I already read the story once and will do it again tomorrow and then email/message you.
chomiji
Nov. 5th, 2009 12:56 pm (UTC)

It was a pretty grueling afternoon, I must say. After I posted that message, I went and laid down for 45 minutes.

Thanks for looking over the story!

(Deleted comment)
chomiji
Nov. 5th, 2009 12:47 pm (UTC)

Re your vision: Yeah, you should be careful of "floaters" and/or flashes of light in your field of vision, and get to a proper ophthalmologist right away if you notice that happening.

lady_ganesh
Nov. 6th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC)
...well, I'm glad your retinas are okay?
chomiji
Nov. 6th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)

Errr, sorry, I do go on sometimes! This was just physically gruelling and there was no Mr. at home to give me hugs, so I had to work it out another way ... .

lady_ganesh
Nov. 6th, 2009 12:52 pm (UTC)
I didn't mean it like that! You went through a lot for not that much good news.
jinxaire
Nov. 6th, 2009 06:33 am (UTC)
Well, that whole experience sounds totally horrible. *huggles*

I actually had my routine exam on this past Friday myself. Luckily my prescription hasn't changed much but my vision is really horrible. I have extreme myopia and I also have astigmatism. In addition, for the first time a doctor told me that I have "huge pupils" and when I asked about it, he inquired if I "imbibe often." Mmmm... no, I don't, and do you think I'd drive myself to a doctor's office after imbibing, lol?

He didn't even need to dilate my eyes, apparently. He did the exam without the drops. That was a first, too. At least it saved me the eyestrain and headaches.
chomiji
Nov. 6th, 2009 12:27 pm (UTC)

Your pupils must be amazing! I've never heard of that before.

Well, I lied, I have: David Bowie has one pupil paralyzed open from a fight in his youth:

But I haven't heard of it just naturally, bilaterally.

smillaraaq
Nov. 6th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
Actually, there's a fair bit of natual variation in pupil size (and folks do sometimes even end up with unilateral pupil differences like Bowie's genetically rather than from injury.) Age is also a factor, children and young adults have larger pupils that are more reactive to light.

Considering jinxaire never heard boo from any of her other previous eye docs, though, and this doctor was also asking all those hinky questions about drug use, I wouldn't be surprised if her pupils are well within the normal range of variation and this particular doc is just a jerk leaping to assumptions. These things happen! I've never even touched cigarettes, but I've occasionally had random strangers ask me if I knew where they could score some pot. o_O
jinxaire
Nov. 8th, 2009 06:56 am (UTC)
Yep, he's the first one who's mentioned it but I have noticed previously that my pupils are larger than my those of my friends, although I expect that the size may decrease slightly as I age. He could have just told me that some people are wired that way right off the bat (which he did afterward) instead of going on about the whole imbibing thing. Oh well. At least I think he fitted me properly for contacts this time, unlike the other two doctors that I've tried over the years for contacts.

Luckily, I haven't had anyone ask me where to buy illicit substances, lol. I think I'd be a bit weirded out if that happened... O.o
smillaraaq
Nov. 8th, 2009 07:45 am (UTC)
Heh, in all fairness those questions mostly came when I when I was in my mid-twenties to early thirties (and was still routinely carded and told I looked five to ten years younger than I was), my look was a bit more flamboyantly goth than it is now, and the folks doing the asking were youngish punk/goth sorts themselves. So it less of a judgemental older authority figure being all "dang kids these days are probably all a bunch of druggies", and more kids who probably thought I was enough of an age/scene peer that I was safe to approach. It still left me kind of laughing and shaking my head at the randomness of it all, of course!
jinxaire
Nov. 8th, 2009 06:26 am (UTC)
Thankfully it's not like that. I've never had any eye injuries and my pupils are a bit big, but not so much that it looks like I'm on drugs or anything - or at least I hope, haha!

I am concerned about retinal tears, though. I just had a friend who went in for his routine exam this summer for his contacts and the doctor told him he had a retinal tear and needed emergency eye surgery. Previously, I just had eye exams when I was suspicious that my vision was getting poorer and that I needed a new prescription but after my friend's situation, I made sure to get my routine exam this year.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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