I went in for what I thought would be a regular eye exam. It turned out to be one of those life changing moments.
The optometrist told me he had some concerns after his examination and referred me to an ophthalmologist not far from my home. He went on to tell me that the vision in my left eye was very weak. He used the word glaucoma and implied that I needed to get it treated right away or I would go blind. He had me cover the right eye with my hand and look around the room with the left eye. The only way I can describe what I saw is to call it the “Swiss cheese” effect. The scenery in the office was full of gaps or holes in my vision. I was stunned. I asked him, “How could this happen? It was about a year and half since my last check up and all was well then.” He really could not answer that question but urged me to make an appointment right away.
Ofcourse I was on edge for the next several days, reading everything I could find on glaucoma. It didn’t sound good. One week later I was sitting in the ophthalmologist’s office. As I looked around the waiting room, I notice that everyone looked much older. One lady had a patch over her left eye. A man had on a pair of glasses with very thick lenses. Another gentleman had both eyes bandaged up. Is this what my future holds?
The medical assistant called my name and directed me to have a seat in her cubicle. She asked why I was there today. I told her about the referral. She asked me about my health history. Then she had me read that proverbial eye chart. I have always wondered about the authenticity of that chart. One could memorize the letters and pretend to be able to read them. But that wasn’t the case for me. I could see the rows clearly with my right eye, but the left eye was in big trouble. The assistant wrote something down on my chart, led me to an exam room, and said the doctor would be in shortly. About five minutes later a guy in a white coat made an appearance. He introduced himself and wanted to know how I was feeling. I responded by telling him I would feel better once I knew what was happening to me. He proceeded to put some drops into my eyes. I’ll say this for him, he explained each procedure and what it would reveal.
After a series of tests, he came back with the results. There’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that the pressure in my right eye was normal. The bad news was that I had lost substantial vision in my left eye. The pressure was high and had damaged the optic nerve. Once the optic nerve is damaged vision cannot be restored. He said I would need to use eye drops for the rest of my life and hopefully that would keep things stable. He was going to prescribe two different kinds. I would use one in the morning and in the evening. The additional one would only be used before bed. The pressure needed to be lowered in the left eye so I could retain what little eyesight I had. The pressure in the right eye needed to be kept normal.
The doctor said he had no idea why this had occurred or why it wasn’t caught earlier. I was to come back in a week to make sure the drops were working and then three months after that to have the pressures monitored.
I made my next appointment, paid the co-pay, and walked out of the office in a daze. The thought of going blind began to sink in. As I walked outside I can honestly say, that it was at that moment, I really began to “see” life in a different way. I took in my surroundings, even down to the grass growing in between the sidewalk. There was a crack in the lobby window. It was there when I entered the building but I did not "see” it. The bright yellow lines in the parking lot were even pretty to me. I also took in the various shades of green nature had provided, from the freshly mowed grass, the manicured bushes, to the trees, that made up the little park adjacent to the building.
As I thought about what I had just heard, I began to sense an urgency to follow a dream I have had for quite awhile. Writing is something I have always enjoyed and I thought I needed to get serious about it. I don’t know how long I am going to have my eyesight. I had already lost considerable vision in my left eye and if those drops don’t work, well need I say more? I now encourage my family and friends to have their eyes examined on a regular basis and not to take their vision for granted. I also encourage them not to put their dreams on hold. One never knows when life will take a different course.