Last week I explained how my eye’s progress after a complex retinal detachment had mostly gone backwards in 2017. I faced the new year with worsening vision, a developing cataract and continued high ocular pressure. For those of you just joining this topic, you can find detailed information on the signs and dangers of retinal detachments, as well as the start of my journey, in my initial articles here, or catch up with my recent update here.
At my ophthalmologist appointment in mid-January 2018, I asked about having my eye cavity flushed again to remove more silicon oil residue, hoping this might improve my vision. He said cataract surgery was the priority, and he wouldn’t consider another flushing before then. He thought my eye looked good and he wouldn’t need to see me until after the cataract surgery.
When I got home, I realized my ocular pressure hadn’t been checked, nor had it come up in our conversation. Because I had an appointment at the end of that month with the ophthalmologist who’d be doing the cataract surgery, I decided to have him take a pressure reading. But not knowing was a worry, and I was disappointed it hadn’t been addressed that day.
At my appointment with the cataract ophthalmologist, I got the frustrating news of a probable nine-month wait for surgery. The ophthalmologist said my ocular pressure was elevated more than he liked, but he didn’t give a number. I told him I used Azarga eye drops twice a day to treat that. He didn’t have any further suggestions.
In April, I had measurement tests done, a routine procedure before cataract surgery. I didn’t see the ophthalmologist at that appointment. The blurriness and double vision were continuing to worsen, and I wondered if the cataract was causing this, and how bad it might become by the October surgery date.
In an unexpected turn of events, my cataract surgery was performed in July at the local hospital. It took approximately two hours, start to finish. Unlike my first two surgeries, applying the anesthetic didn’t involve inserting needles into my eye (yay!), and the surgery wasn’t painful. The surgeon kindly took the time to remove more silicon oil from my eye cavity during surgery. While my eye was only mildly uncomfortable afterward, I had a terrible headache and felt really off, so slept most of that afternoon. I blame this on the IV sedative given before surgery.
The next morning, the surgeon said the new lens looked great. Both he and I were surprised my sight hadn’t improved. He said it might still improve over time. He switched me from Azarga to Combigan eye drops to treat the elevated ocular pressure. I told him I’d just noticed my right eye was aligned slightly to the right instead of looking straight ahead. He said the surgery hadn’t caused this, and explained that when an eye doesn’t see well, the brain sometimes stops using it, causing it to wander off-center. This news, and the lack of progress with my vision, wasn’t encouraging. Ever the pragmatist, I decided to keep a positive mind-frame.
A week later, my ocular pressure had dropped slightly, so the cataract ophthalmologist had me continue with the Combigan drops and start another one, Latanoprost. Still no change in my eyesight.
Two weeks later, my ocular pressure was up to 37 (normal is 12-21), so the cataract ophthalmologist put me on a third eye drop, Brinzolamide. He said the gritty feeling in my eye was caused by dryness irritating my cornea, and suggested using lubricant drops. This was my last cataract check-up, and he forwarded his findings to my regular ophthalmologist, who I was scheduled to see in a few days.
So, a third surgery was behind me, and besides no longer having a cataract, my vision remained poor and unstable, and my ocular pressure remained high and untreatable. I had to face the stark reality of never regaining functional vision. My upcoming articles will address other challenges I had going forward. Click here for the next one.