Monday, August 20, 2012

My Blind Mind’s Eye – Part II

20 August 2012

Back in early April this year I wrote about my blindness and how I related that to the heart disease. Earlier this month, I had my annual ophthalmology appointment here in Converse. So today I wanted to briefly update my status in regards to my blindness.

The good doctor did the normal examination and found that no further damage to my optic nerves has occurred and that my eye pressure remains as always, normal. No evidence of glaucoma or any kind of tumor/injury/abnormality to the eye itself exists. So that’s good. 

My condition is such that some of my optic nerves have died. It is a rare condition and I’ve tried to research some myself and there’s not much out there that really describes much about it. I have had two different doctors tell me that this is a rare condition, no cure exists and there’s not much information available about it. 

Every year I get an “Automated Perimetry Test”. With this test the doctor and I can check for any significant changes in my current field of vision (FOV). To briefly recap, I have had vision loss since 1980. In 2003, after my heart attacks and surgery I noticed that it seemed to have gotten worse.  Every year since then, my FOV has remained unchanged, with a few minor fluctuations here and there, basically the same. This year’s results were no different and with every visit with my eye doctor the news is always the same. That my vision is not getting any worse, my FOV is not degrading further and that what I do see, I see very well.

Well How much do I see? Well I’m going to show you how much. When people look at me, you can’t really tell that I suffer some blindness, or that I have a heart condition, because I am, for the most part, able to get around. I can see some things. Below are the results of my latest Automated Perimetry test.  The left pic is the left eye; the right pic is the right eye:

The black areas represent the areas of complete blindness. Bear in mind that I don’t actually see this way; this is a digital representation of the results of that test. It’s hard to explain but what I see, I see. What I don’t see, I just don’t see it. It is neither black nor blurred out. It just doesn’t exist. The white shaded areas are what I do see with the brightest being clear vision and degrading from there. To put it in a context that may be relatable, if I am sitting in the driver’s side of a vehicle, and driving, I can see the entire front windshield area and some of the area to my right. Any passenger would be mostly invisible though I see their legs. I cannot clearly see the dashboard while driving so I have to look at the speedometer or other meters, the same with the mirrors. I cannot see my own lap. I could see vehicles sitting to either side of me. I may not see vehicles approaching me to either side if I was turning into traffic from say, a parking lot, unless I turn and look to check for approaching traffic. And even then, I have to be very careful. I would have to be very careful changing lanes and my reaction time to traffic conditions and obstacles is minimal. I absolutely could not drive at night as I have major night blindness and my eyes are real sensitive to light.

What caused it? I think that my heart disease plays alot into the why of this. I assume that like anything else nerves need blood to survive. I have nerve damage and pain in various parts of my body and have had that for a very long time. I have circulation problems as well and it could be an aspect of diabetes. At any rate, my optic nerves are damaged because my body could not get adequate blood flow to those nerves and therefore dried up. You can’t fix that. There’s also an outside chance that it’s hereditary. A condition called LHON (Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy) that attacks people between the ages of 13 and 30 causing a painless loss of vision in both eyes. It’s associated with a mutation in mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited only from a child’s mother.

The good news is I am not presently losing any more vision. The bad news is the probability exists that I may lose more vision in the future or I may not however, there is still no cure for this condition. And that’s ok. I have had this since 1980 and I adapted then. I have adapted to the increased loss now and will continue to move on through life not worrying about something I have absolutely no control of. Why am I writing this today? I’ll get more into that later.

Related Links:

A good article covering the different tests used to check your vision:

An article on a possible explanation to my condition:

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