Oh my, went to the retina doc today and it was a so-so report. My left eye is stable, but I’ve lost some more vision in my right eye. It no longer meets the requirements for driving. For the first time, a doctor has brought up the subject of driving and the need to start planning for a passenger-only future. Fortunately, my left eye is still plenty good enough to pass the driving test so I don’t have to cross that hurdle just yet. When do you make that very hard decision? And how? Again, the doctor affirmed that most likely I will not lose all my vision, and will retain the ability get around.
I wasn’t surprised by this discussion. The other day I gave a presentation at CMS on Security Boulevard. We finished at 4:30 pm and I was anxious to leave – I wanted to leave so I wouldn’t have to drive in the dark. Everyone stood around talking… and talking… and talking. Finally, I said “I have to leave – I can’t drive in the dark.” It was dusk when I left, but the sun set quickly. And there I was, in the car, in the pitch black dark. I drove carefully and was confident that I could get home safely, but only because I had made this trip so often before. When I looked at the signs, I couldn’t see them, or the letters were all jumbled up. Glen Burnie became Gen Bunn. When I got home, I said to my husband that it was a tough drive home, mostly because I knew/acknowledged that there was a change in my vision. And so, I wasn’t surprised when my right eye saw three less fewer lines on the Big “E” chart.
Because of the vision loss, the doctor wanted to do a Fluorescein Angiogram. It is a very unpleasant test. The technician injects a dye in your arm, then quickly takes pictures of your retina. The dye lights up the blood vessels so they can be seen easily. It also make you nauseous. The doctor looks for any leaks in the blood vessels. He (or she) is also able to compare it to any previous pictures. I asked the tech if she would send me the pix and she did. On the left is someone’s normal retina. The next two pictures are my eyes – left and right or, in opthalmologist-speak, OS (oculus sinister) and OD (oculus dexter).
|Normal eye. Macula is to the left|
of the optic disc. Click to enlarge.
In all three pictures, there is bright white spot called the optic disc, the area where the blood vessels converge. I use to think that was the pupil or optic nerve. Thank goodness for a retinologist who takes the time to explain this stuff! In all three pix, there is a darker or black area not too far from the optic disc. This is the macula or the part of the eye that is responsible for central vision. I used to think that because it was dark, it was a “bad “ or damaged spot. Not so.
|Left or better eye. Lesions are to the|
right of the macula. Click to enlarge.
|Right or bad eye. Lesions are in the|
middle of the macula. Click to enlarge.
What you see in my eyes is quite a bit of scarring or thinning of pigment to the right of the macula in my left eye and smack dab in the middle of the macula in my right eye. Again, looking at this, you would think my left eye is much worse than the right. But while the damage is greater, it is in an area of the retina that doesn’t matter, or that doesn’t affect my vision. This is pattern retinal dystrophy.
I have some stuff to process after this visit. The driving is ok for now, if I am careful and drive only in the daytime, but the issue looms large. My husband and I have to decide where to retire. So much for a farm in the middle of nowhere – I’ll need to be able to walk to the store or take public transportation. Earlier I suggested to him that we live in the middle of a shopping center, near a bead store. Oh, what to do...
And, as an aside, my cousin sent me this picture. LOL!! I may be losing my sense of sight, but not my sense of humor!