Another day, another trip to the eye doctor. Today I went back for a visit to my regular ophthalmologist. I have not seen him in three years. Because I have been busy going to the retina specialist, with a few trips to the optometrist for updated contact lenses, there really hasn’t been a need to see the regular ophthalmologist. Since I last saw him, he moved to a new, huge mega-practice – one of those offices with ten or twelve doctors and dozens and dozens of staff.
My retina specialist sent me to the ophthalmologist to see about cataract surgery. When I had my vitrectomy (almost a year ago already!), I was told that there was a 100% chance of developing a cataract in my left eye. Lately, my vision has been deteriorating rapidly in both eyes. My retina scans look good and my retina specialist thought that my cataracts were not bad enough to be causing the change. I went for a PAM and LI test, which indicated that I would benefit from having the cataracts removed from both eyes. The words my retina specialist used were “significant improvement” in my right eye and “slight improvement” in my left eye. I was relieved to hear that there is something that can be done to help my vision.
So, today I went to see my old ophthalmologist in his new office. When I walked into the new office, my heart sank. I made all kinds of assumptions about the way I would be rushed through the system. I could not have been more wrong. The eye doctor came into the exam room and, before he even looked at my eyes, spent a good ten minutes talking to me about what has been going on with my vision. He had been kept up to date by the rs, but he asked a lot of questions and really seemed to want to hear my story. After listening and talking, he looked at my eyes. He looked and looked and shined lights and looked some more. Then he spent a long time talking to me. It turns out, the cataracts do not look like they should be significant, like they should be causing so much vision loss. The PAM and LI test show that there should be an improvement, but he is hesitant.
So, I have a cataract, but for most people a cataract this size would not cause so much vision deterioration. It’s possible, because my retina has been damaged, that my eye is experiencing the cataract as more significant than it really is. Also, it appears that I have the frosted kind of cataract (which I will have to look up), and these type of cataracts sometimes cause more vision problems. The ophthalmologist kept saying that if the PAM and LI tests say that there will be improvement, then there will be some improvement. I kept sensing a “but.” Finally, he explained that he is not convinced that there is not some other problem occurring as well. He would like me to see a neuro-ophthalmologist to see if there might be a problem with my optic nerve, along with the retina problems and the cataracts.
He is not ready to rule out cataract surgery. He is not ready to go ahead with cataract surgery. After our long discussion, this is what we came up with. First, he wants me to schedule a pre-op visit where they will measure my eyes for the new lenses they will use when/if he does the cataract surgery. Second, he will give my retina specialist a call and they will discuss whether I should see a neuro-ophthalmologist before I have cataract surgery, just to rule out any other problems. I feel really blessed to have these two wonderful, cautious, brilliant doctors treating me. I have 100% confidence that they will pursue the best option for my eyes. I feel like they care about me and my vision and my eyes. Both doctors understand that my eyes are not normal and that they cannot just forge ahead as if my eyes would respond normally to treatment.
In a way, I am disappointed that the surgery isn’t going to be quickly scheduled and done and over. But, realistically, I am thankful that there is time for a pause and reflection before anything is done that cannot be undone. Mostly, tonight, I am so grateful for my opthalmologist and for all the time he spent with me today. He treated me as if I was the only patient he had to see today, as if he had all the time in the world, as if he really cares about me. I appreciate that so very much.