Saturday, July 7, 2012

From Contacts To Cataracts (Part 1)

I was about 13 years old when I got my first pair of contact lenses.  This was back in the days before disposable lenses, soft lenses, or even gas permeable lenses.  They were hard little pieces of plastic.  They snapped easily.  They popped out of your eye if you looked suddenly in one direction, or if the wind came up and just swooped them off the surface of your eye.  And they hurt like hell when you first put them in.  In fact, there was a breaking-in period.  I wore them for 1 hour a day for a week, then 2 hours a day for a week, then gradually moving up to to 10-12 hours a day - 16 if I was lucky and used a lot of Visine.  But it was a miracle as far as I was be able to see so clearly.  OMG - what a difference.  I knew I would never go back.

In my early 50s, I developed a case of Grave's Disease (hyperthyroidism) and the tell tale sign was my bulging eyes.  I looked a bit like Luca Brasi getting strangled in The Godfather.  For whatever reason, in Grave's Disease, the immune system thinks there is something wrong with the area behind the eyes and sends in "healing" T-cells.  The T-cells accumulate there to "fight" the alleged infection.  As more and more cells gather, the push the eye balls forward in the eye socket, giving that bulging eye appearance.  When that happens, the shape of the eye changes, and contacts no longer stay on the eye.  I was forced to go back to wearing my glasses full time.

Eventually Grave's Disease runs it course, but I was pretty miserable during the 5 years I dealt with the process.  I had to have radiation to the back of my eyes to destroy the T-cells, and I was on long term Prednisone to take down all the swelling, plus the medication to correct my thyroid function.  To correct the damage done by the T-cells, I had to have orbital decompression.  This is where they scrape some of the lower orbital bone away so the eye will fit back into the socket.  Then came strabismus surgery.  The eye muscles were extended and stretched out and my eyes wandered off to the side giving me double vision and a very odd appearance.  The blessing after those surgeries was that the skin was stretched out too, so I got myself a lid lift, a "necessary medical procedure" because the skin was drooping into my field of vision, and therefore it was covered by my medical insurance.  Yay!

All during this process, I used spiritual techniques I had been taught over the years, including but not limited to, prayer, affirmations, a gratitude journal and a wish list.  On my wish list was an entry for 20/20 vision without the use of contacts or glasses.   I had the beginning of cataracts for years, but it did not effect my vision enough to warrent surgery.   Well, the long term use of Prednisone contributed to my cataract formation, and surgery was scheduled.

Nowadays, opthalmologists are able to replace the cataract lens with a vision correcting lens.  It is a bit link a permanently placed contact.  My dream and intention of having 20/20 vision without the daily use of glasses or contacts is now possible.

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