Look into my eye

A couple of months ago, Alex arranged for all of us (herself, Monkey, and yours truly) to visit the eye doctor for a checkup. It’d been a couple of years since my last run, and given my age it was a wise idea. (I would love to know if there’s ever been a study on whether married men have better overall health, since their wives are usually the ones scheduling their appointments. Bachelors/single guys, take note!) Not that I particularly like the idea of anyone getting too close to my eyes…

The results were pretty much what I expected: I need glasses. Well, not need, but should probably get for reading and night time. And even then, it’s only a recommendation and not mandatory — I still see (more or less) fine, though there is a wee bit of blurriness. Dr. Amy (my first eye doctor) told me I’d need glasses when I was 40, and darn it I’m going to wait until I’m 40!

But then there’s the glaucoma…

No, I don’t actually have glaucoma. I’m just at risk for it. The doctor noticed in one of those painfully-bright-light tests that I might have something called “narrow angles” in my eyes. At this point, I’m not in any immediate danger, but this is something that could worsen in time, and the prospect of going blind is enough for me to get over my phobias and see a specialist. Which is what I did this morning.

Dr. Arun Latka at the Calgary Opthamology Center had a couple of preliminary tests run before he saw me (which appear to be standard), and quickly verified that I do, in fact, have narrow angles in the eye. This involved a new test that I’ve never had before, which struck me with absolute terror: he wanted to place a rather LARGE magnifying lens (looking something like the lens from a jeweller’s loupe) right on my eye.

Cringe. Heave. Try not to barf. Yeah, I have an issue with people getting that close to my eye. Ugh.

When he first placed it on my right eye, it felt like someone had kicked me in the gut. I suddenly regretted eating peanut butter for breakfast. I couldn’t open my left eye from the reaction. Although it was only there for at most a minute, it took a few more for me to not technicolour yawn over the equipment. I wasn’t nearly as bad with the left eye, likely because I knew what to expect. But it still gives me the shivers.

The confirmation of narrow angles led to the next step: laser eye surgery. And no, I haven’t had that yet — but I’m now scheduled for it. The surgery isn’t Lasik (I’m likely never to do that), and considerably simpler. It’s to correct the fundamental problem my eyes apparently have…

The eyes, like most parts of the body, have a flow of fluid within them. This regulates general health. The fluid flows from near the lens out to the cornea, circulates, then gets pushed back in through a narrow channel where the cornea and iris nearly meet, at a point referred to as (I think) Schlemm’s canal. Normally, the fluid flows out and all is well. In my case, the canal is so narrow that it could be blocked by the iris contracting too much (such as being in a dark room). This leads to too much pressure in the anterior chamber (between the iris and the cornea), which causes a pressure build-up in the interior chamber, which causes deadening of the optical nerve … and blindness.

The correction seems pretty trivial (and apparently is fairly common-place): bore a teeny hole in the iris to allow the fluid to balance.

So, for my birthday this year, I get to have laser eye surgery. At least on one eye, anyway. The other one won’t come until August (only one eye at a time, and the surgeon only does this one day a month, for some reason).

Sigh. Someone else near my eyes.


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