Great news! I just returned from the University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF), and we've finally scheduled my surgery to replace the lens in my left eye for Tuesday, September 8, 2009! This is fantastic news in that optic nerve damage has now been ruled out.
Today I met with Stephen D. McLeod, MD, who is the Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology in the UCSF School of Medicine. I feel really good about this because UCSF is rated among the top 10 ophthalmology programs in the USA, and it has the largest surgical eye care program in Northern California.
Ready for a biology refresher? So, the LENS of the eye helps focus light onto the RETINA, which sends visual signals to the brain. Retinal problems are delicate, however as long as the OPTIC NERVE is okay, then things are good. A TRAUMATIC CATARACT occurs after blunt force trauma to the eye. In my case, the champagne cork struck my eye directly which caused a CHOROIDAL RUPTURE (a rupture in the layer of blood vessels and connective tissue between the SCLERA (the white of the eye) and the retina), and a RETINAL CONTUSION. I only had the slightest bruising on my brow-bone, so my eyeball took the full impact! Dr. McLeod suspects that my MACULA was likely damaged in the accident, too. The macula is a central area of the retina with a lot of CONES that mediate clear detailed vision. This is likely why doctors were only able to adjust my vision to 20/40 after I started regaining my vision after the accident.
Way back when the champagne cork struck my eye, I was grateful to have 20/40 vision in that eye, believe me! Immediately after the accident I was blind in my left eye for about 2 weeks until the blood from the bruising reabsorbed. Then I endured severe migraines for the next two years, particularly when it was sunny. I hated wearing an eye patch, however I needed to then, particularly in winter when sunlight would reflect off the snow in Michigan. Some jerk even made a nasty comment about my eye-patch. I had recently cut my hair shorter, and he had the nerve to say to me, "You used to be so pretty, what happened to you?" Needless to say, I put him in his place.
While my vision hasn't ever been perfect since the accident, I noticed it getting progressively worse about 5-6 years ago. I went to an Ophthalmologist at that time, however he wasn't able to do much other than give me a new eyeglass / contacts script. Now my left eye is so blurry that I get constant headaches from eye strain. I also have severe double vision in my left eye, and extreme sensitivity to light in that eye. While I still hate eye-patches, it actually feels a lot better to wear one than not. The largest draw-backs of wearing an eye patch for me are: loss of depth-perception, motion-sickness, loss of peripheral vision on my left side, and people staring. Having been an artist most of my life, I'm getting a kick-out-of creating designer eye-patches. It helps lighten-up the fact that I have to wear one, and makes some people less uncomfortable when they see someone wearing an eye-patch. There are still the jerks who visibly recoil when they see someone wearing a patch, however that's their problem, not mine!
Although I initially requested to be considered for a multi-focal lens (such as Crysalens), Dr. McLeod ruled it out today. According to Dr. McLeod, multi-focal lenses only work well when the patient had 20/20 vision to start with. In addition, there may likely be additional damage within my retina that will only be visible once he opens it up, that only a more stable lens can be supported in.
So I have two pre-surgical appointments on August 26th, and then will have my lens transplant on September 8th, 2009. Dr. McLeod only performs surgery twice a month, and his Practice Assistant, Maricris Macalalag, was fantastic about getting me in so quickly (just shy of 3-weeks from today); his next surgical appointment is in November. Since I'm wearing an eye-patch and having to drive on the US-101 daily, it's definitely preferable to get the surgery over with!
My traumatic cataract is relatively small, however it is in the center of my lens. Dr. McLeod doesn't think it's the sole reason for how bad my vision is in my left eye, however it does explain some of it. Tramatic cataracts frequently have a STELLATE or ROSETTE-shape, which explains my extreme sensitivity to light and possibly the double-vision. His plan is to replace my lens with the vision set for reading. Since I'm not a good candidate for a multi-focal lens, he has to determine in advance what vision to re-set my eye to. He feels that because my right eye is healthy and in good shape, my brain will be able to adjust to having my left eye focused for reading, and the good eye will compensate. Otherwise, if he sets my bad eye to distance vision, I will have to wear reading glasses. This way I will no longer need to wear a contact lens in my left eye, and I may be a candidate for corrective eye surgery in my right eye in the future! Cool! Twenty-two years ago I was told by my Neuro-Ophthalmologist -- with no uncertainty -- that I would one-day go blind. Today I was told for the first time ever that I may not need glasses in the future! Hard to fathom since I've worn corrective lenses since I was ten-years-old!! Yeah Dr. McLeod!!!
Onward & upward!