Today I had two vision tests. A PAM test (potential acuity meter) and an LI test (laser interferometer). When I went to my retina specialist on Tuesday, my vision in my left eye had deteriorated to 20/200 corrected. I do have a cataract, but he seemed to doubt that it was causing the trouble. So, he wanted me to go to the Flaum Eye Clinic at Strong Hospital to have these tests. They were able to schedule an appointment for today.
These two tests are designed to predict what vision would be if the cataract was removed. If the cataract is causing my vision deterioration, it can be surgically removed. No problem. If the cataract is not causing the problem, then my rs and I have to have a discussion about what is causing it and what can be done. He did say that the problem may not be correctable. So, I went to Strong to see what these tests would say about my vision.
I looked the tests up online and they sounded fine. My eyes would be dilated and then I would look through the machines and they would tell what my vision would be without the cataract. I really expected something kind of high tech. My rs has some phenomenal equipment in his office, and I thought that this PAM and LI equipment must be even more impressive than his. I was so wrong. The “machines” were not what I expected at all.
After having my eyes dilated, I was taken into a small room with what looked like a very old-fashioned eye test machine. I looked through a small peephole and was asked to read as much of the chart as I could. I could see nothing. This did not surprise me, since I had been asked to remove my contact. A quick call to my optometrist told the tech that my left eye is -17. The PAM machine only goes up to -9. He supplemented the machines lens with an additional -8 lens and asked me to look again. I was able to see two letters on the chart. Everything else was a complete blur. That was it. The PAM test was over.
Next was the LI test. I figured THIS test had to be high tech. After all, it had the word “Laser” in its title. Wrong again. The tech had a little hand-held tool with a red light on the end. I was to look into this red light and see whether the lines were going up and down or back and forth. I did manage to see the lines on two tries, but most of the time they were just a blur. Then, that test was done.
The whole visit to the Eye Clinic was kind of a disappointment. The tests themselves seemed so primitive and basic, much less sophisticated than any tests done in my retina specialist’s office. Maybe there was a lot more to them than it seemed. Maybe they were revealing something important about my vision. I only saw a tech, who did not give me much information. He did tell me that the PAM result was 20/100 and the LI was 20/150. I think that means that cataract surgery is not going to improve my vision very much, but I may be wrong. I suppose my doc will call me soon with the “official” results and what they mean to me. Meanwhile, I will keep adjusting to my reduced vision and finding new ways to see the grace and beauty in the world.