Even without pictures, this post is about something important for any photographer. Vision. And the potential problems thereof. Not vision in an artistic sense, we’ll leave that for another time. No, I mean actually deciphering the symbols of modern English, as they appear on any given computer screen, on highway signage or your husband’s love letters. The ability to read, plain and simple.
This kind of vision had become somewhat convoluted for me lately. But there are so many ways to explain away fuzzy moments, aren’t there? Oh, I’m so tired today, I’ve been at the computer too long, the sun is blinding, and so forth. ‘Dry eye’ appears to be the cat’s meow of diagnoses for all sorts of ocular trouble these days. A couple of optometrists suggested just that, however, those expensive lubricants never made the slightest bit of a difference in my visual acuity. Yet, one just shuts up and deals with it. You tilt your head, you squint your eyes, you let your better half drive, as well as read for you from the computer screen when perusing online listings for French châteaux ….
The other day, however, I realized that although I could clearly and crisply read the three numerals on an interstate highway mileage marker, I could not align them into their proper sequence. In other words, I could identify a ‘4’, ‘6’ and ‘2’, but what did these numerals represent? Mile 462? Or maybe 246, or mile 624? Knowing that not even Texas is that big, I gave up. Luckily, I did know that this was my exit toward Uvalde, not Udeval, wherever that might be.
I learned two lessons here. One, I have the highest respect for the unfortunate multitude of people, who never had a chance to learn how to read, yet manage to cope somehow. Secondly, I realized that I had to stop messing around with drops and eyeglass adjustments and make an appointment with an ophthalmologist to have this problem sorted out once and for all.
I hauled my derrière to an ophthalmologist in Kerrville tout de suite, where, over the next couple of weeks, I had a variety of tests, most of which were rather unpleasant. I found out that my prescription lenses are perfectly fine, that I have the tiniest beginning of a smidgen of cataract (age appropriate), that my intraocular pressure is a little high, that my optic nerves look irregular and that one eschews the use of the phrase ‘not normal’ at all cost. Altogether this prompted further tests to determine the possibility of glaucoma. Well, are we having fun yet? Asked the blind photographer on her way home to the ranch.
The peripheral tests showed absolutely no narrowing of my field of vision, and a second pressure test turned out just fine also. Glaucoma bites the dust! What next? You guessed it, three bonus points for you: dry eye!
Dry eye my foot!!
At this juncture, I had enough of that dry eye bull. When the ophthalmologist turned to leave the room with a dismissive wave of his hand, I called him back. Looking him straight in the eyes – well, with my screwy vision, it was more a cyclops stare – I asked: How? How can ‘dry eye’ cause my letters to jump out of their designated spots and dance like whirling dervishes across my field of vision? Or something similar. Nailed to the spot, he started from scratch. What are your symptoms again, exactly? Several questions and a bunch of additional tests later, he came to the conclusion that my actual eyeball entities were perfectly fine.
It’s all in your mind, ma’am. No, no, he never said that. But the logical next step IS the processing of visual input, which happens in the brain, not the eye. In order to explore that possibility, he referred me to an ophthalmic neurologist in San Antonio – we don’t have fancy specialties like that in our neck of the woods. Naturally, the best I could hope for was an appointment six weeks hence, but against expectations, they had a cancellation and could see me the very next morning. Early. In San Antonio. Darn. A two-and-a-half-hour drive plus parking. An appointment for eight forty-five. Double darn.
In San Antonio, the first four hours of tests and pokes and probes establish an entirely new perspective. One which made a great deal of sense to me. The visual input from my left optic nerve didn’t arrive anywhere near the visual input of my right optic nerve. In geographical terms, they were not even reporting from the same country, let alone the same city. And my poor, elderly brain was desperately trying to reconcile these two different points of visual input into one cohesive image. Unfortunately, such a major adjustment was no longer possible for this seasoned visionary. Most likely, I compensated or corrected, if you want, for my rogue left optic input all my life, but that wasn’t an option anymore.
As always, there are other causes to consider. Or, as my neurologist kindly puts it, to eliminate. I had a brain and orbital MRI to detect unauthorized growth of all kinds, as well as some blood tests to check on neurotransmitter levels in regard to myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease that manifests with similar symptoms. Did I mention that I was pooped, bushed, done in, oh-so-tired after all was said and done, including the long drive home?
I’ll have to wait for all the specific results till my follow-up on July 10th, but, in keeping with the neurologist’s optimism, who said: we’ll just slip a prism over your corrective lens – I’ll gladly be the girl with kaleidoscope eyes.
Lucy in the sky with diamonds – don’t you remember, I just posted about Lucy in Austin. Providential!