Saturday, March 24, 2012

The world through my eyes recently

During the beginning of the school holidays (around 10th of March) recently, I discovered that my vision was a little different. I started seeing things like this:

At first I thought perhaps my contact lenses were just dirty, so I took it off and made sure I cleaned it properly. But when I woke up the next morning, it was still slightly blurry. So I opened up a fresh pair of contact lenses, but my vision still did not improve.
So I decided to do a simple experiment, by closing one eye and looking only through the other. This was what I discovered:
Vision through my left eye looked like this-

Vision through my right eye looked like this:

I had a blind spot on my right eye.

It wasn't a completely blind spot, coz through it I could still see colors, but of course it still alarmed me. If I blink my eye really rapidly, I could actually see the shape of the 'spot', like a paint splatter in my eye. One night I even spent almost half an hour closing my left eye and moving my index finger across my right eye like a windshield wiper to see its shape more clearly and also to watch my finger 'dissapear'. tee hee.

I wanted to get it checked, but it being a school holiday, it was impossible to leave the kids home alone while I go to the hospital, plus there were that 2 days that we were supposed to not have water.

I can't remember what I did on the monday, the first day school started, but I only managed to go to the Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital (THONEH) on Tuesday morning. Not knowing what tests they were gonna do, and not liking to drive to unfamiliar places (especially with impaired eyesight), I drove to SS3/43, parked my car, walked to the LRT station to catch the train to Asia Jaya station and from there it was short walk to THONEH.

They did the usual pre-limenary eye test with the chart and when they closed my left eye, all I could see was a grey spot and I told them. Dr. Pavina showed me a paper with square grids on them and asked me to draw the 'spot' and I did.
She asked me questions about my eyesight. How shortsighted am I (-5.0 on both eyes). How long have I been wearing glasses (since I was 17). How long have I been wearing contact lenses (since I was 20). When did I last have my eyes checked (I think the last time we came home, which was 2 years ago?). Was my vision distorted then (I have always had astigmatism, so if it was, I wouldn't have noticed it was this bad till last week).
She then put my head into this contraption and took a really close look into my eyes. She told me she saw what the problem was. I asked whether it was external or internal, realy hoping it was just something growing on my cornea and it could be scraped or lasered off somehow. Unfortunately, she said it was internal.
She brought me to see a more experienced Dr. Saras for a second opinion. Dr Saras scoped, prodded and examined my eye and gave me the same verdict. (note: Dr. Pavina is waaaay gentler than Dr. Saras. omg.)

They gave me eyedrops to dilate my pupils and sent me for Opthalmic Photography and Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT).
Opthamlmic Photography takes pictures of my retina, the inside wall of my eyes.
OCT is this really cool machine that actually takes a cross-sectional picture of the layers of the retina. I distracted myself from the grim possibilities of my ailment by asking the technician to explain how the machine works. You can google it if you want. It's pretty cool. :)
The only hard part with both procedures is trying to keep your eyes open without blinking and having blinding bright light flashing in your eyes. Not comfortable at all. The technicians were pretty nice though. They told me ,"don't blink, ya, don't blink" while taking pictures, then "okay blink now! blink, blink!" in between pictures.

The pictures showed that I have a lesion on my right retina, in a shape that matches what I had been tracing with my fingers one night a week ago. What is more alarming is, they see signs that it might also occur in my left eye. So they sent me to see another doctor, a retina specialist, Dr. Gayatri.
Dr. Gayatri looked at my case and decided to do an FFA (urm not sure what it's short for), but basically they inject a dye in my bloodstream and take pictures of my eye to see how the blood is flowing around the lesion. I were to come the next morning for the FFA.

So the next morning after sending the kids to school (yes, I still had to drive them to school. How?), I parked and rode the LRT again to THONEH.
They administered the pupil dialating eyedrops, put an IV on my left hand, and brought me to the Opthalmic Photography room. The test was pretty simple - I sat in front of the contraption that holds my head still and a camera points directly at my eye. The moment they inject the dye via the IV, they start taking pictures of the inside of my eye. My retina was like America's Next Top Retina. It was like flash flash flash. I felt like it took forever to finish, even though it was actually only about 5-7 minutes.
I was told to drink lots of water to flush out the dye and not to be suprised to find my pee bright yellow.

Dr. Gayatri examined the FFA results for a bit and then gave me the prognosis.
My retina is damaged and 'leaking' due to the stress from my extreme shortsightedness. I asked her if Lasik would help to reduce the stress, she said not really, because it's actually my mis-shapen eyeball that it causing my shortsightedness and stretching my retina and thus causing it to strain and damage it.
Fortunately, there is treatment for it. The medicine is, however, administered by injection of the eyeball.
Here's where I started to freak out in my head a bit.

"You're gonna inject. my. eyeball??" I asked.
"It's actually a relatively painless procedure" (relative to what? poking your eye with a fork??)
"We are going to numb your eyes before the injection and really, all you would feel is something similar to an ant bite" she tried to assure me.
"Like an ant bite. on. my. eyes!!", I was NOT assured.

I wasn't about to dwell on the horrible images it brought up, so I decided to change the subject to cost.
I have the choice between 2 drugs - one that is extremely expensive, and another that is just expensive. The former was designed specifically for this ailment (aha! So I wasn't the only one with this problem) and therefore has had a lot of money pumped into its research and development, hence the cost. The latter, however was accidently discovered to have the same effect with the same effectiveness, without having to go through all the R&D costs. I consulted my financier a.k.a. husband and we decided on the latter.
I have an appointment to get my eyes poked next Thursday. Taufik will be taking the day off to hold my hand, Insya-Allah.

Make du'a for me!