I’ve gotten to the point that going to the doctor, any doctor, is something I hate to do. I never liked it, but now I simply detest it. After all, the best that can happen is that things have stayed the same. But the reality is that, as time goes by, it becomes more and more likely that the news will be bad.
Those of you who are of a certain age know what I’m talking about. Slowly, more and more of your friends are taking pills–high blood pressure, cholesterol. A hearing aid blooms here and there, blushing pale pink in a (usually masculine) ear.
You want to postpone the test, the check-up, the mammogram, the prostate exam, the colonoscopy, and sometimes you do. But sooner or later the postponement goes on too long, and fear takes over, and so you go.
All this is a lead-in to say that yesterday I had an eye exam. I don’t even wear glasses, except for night driving and the theater, or reading glasses for those intimate low-light restaurants. Oh, yes, and computer glasses for blogging. But in normal life I don’t need them, and I can even read books without them.
So yesterday it was a surprise to me when the technician looked into my eyes, prior to the opthamologist’s grand entrance, and said, “I’m going to have the doctor come in now to take a look before we dilate you.” And then he went into some arcane discussion of the angle of my iris and the fluid and the shape of my eye and something something something. When I asked whatever was he talking about, he tried to find a diagram of the eye to show me. I didn’t want to see a diagram of the eye, I said, I wanted to know what it all meant–did I have some eye disease? Oh no, no, he said, just something that might make it dangerous to dilate my pupils. And then he left me alone to ponder that thought.
Next there was quite a bit more fussing with my eyes by several people, including the doctor. Measuring, putting numbing drops in, measuring again, being told to stare at little targets. Their conclusion was that yes, indeed, I have some relatively rare malformation of the eye that is congenital but gets worse with age (doesn’t everything?).
What does it all mean? Well, although it’s highly unlikely to happen soon, as the thing progresses, I would be at risk for sudden blindness if my eyes dilate quickly or forcefully, blocking off some sort of fluid canals and causing a clogged-drain effect in which the eye fluid pressure builds up alarmingly and speedily.
Huh? Not exactly what I expected to hear. That’s what he meant by “dangerous;” the eyedrops used to dilate eyes for the eye examination can cause an attack, requiring immediate emergency surgery to preserve the eyesight. Modern medicine being the relatively wonderful thing it is, however, there is a simple (they say; I hope!) laser surgery that puts a little hole in the iris and prevents any possible buildup.
The doctor then said he thought it would be okay now to dilate my eyes to examine them.
Now, one word I really don’t like to hear a doctor say is “I think” (actually, that’s two). So I inquired about this “think” thing, and he said if I was apprehensive (if?), I could just have the laser surgery soon, and postpone the drops for afterwards.
I made an appointment for laser surgery in three weeks. And then decided to write this little post to tell all of you that it’s not a bad idea to keep up with your regular eye exams. A cautionary tale.