Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day Two: The Eye Problem

Some pain still remains inside my left eye from the multiple (six) injections of antibiotics into it to ward off further damage to my left eye. Some people may wonder how I got a bacterial infection in my left eye in the first place.

It’s pretty easy to explain. I have a hole in both eyes. No, I wasn’t born that way, and these holes were deliberately placed to allow drainage of excess fluid from my eye. A blockage of drain tubes is the cause of glaucoma.

The pressure kinks the fluid outlet, and if the fluid cannot escape, the pressure builds up inside the eye over time. Left unattended, the pressure will continue to increase and it can blow the optic nerve from the back of the eye, causing permanent blindness.

It also can progressively get worse, and cause a gradual loss of vision, a problem I’ve fought for 26 years. One method of treatment is called a trabeculectomy. Sounds mysterious but I have one in each eye.

Two tiny cuts in the eye form an inverted V, and the pointy part is folded over and sewed shut. The wound heals, and leaves the patient with a hole in the upper part of the eye. As the intra-ocular fluid rises, the hole acts as an over-flow valve, and extra fluid drains away.

That’s how it works in a perfect world. However, I’ve had three bacterial infections over the past five years. Two in my left eye and one in the right. Left unchecked, the bacterial infection begins at the site of the above operation, and infects the “bleb,” a somewhat rounded elevation that looks somewhat like the rim of a volcano. The rim is built up, rounded, and the tissue gradually weakens, calling for another trabeculectomy.

Once this elevated bleb is infected, the bacterial infection goes into the eye, and if not treated immediately, the infection will destroy the eye and lead to the inevitable surgical removal of the eye.

That, in a nutshell, is what is happening in my life. Most of the pain is gone, and I saw the doctor who came in on a Sunday to treat me, and it was a nasty drive through the snow but my wife and I made it. He feels encouraged, which makes me feel good.

Confidence in one’s doctors means a lot, and this doctor pulled me through one other bout with a bacterial infection two years ago. So, I remain optimistic. Stop by tomorrow for another update.—Dave

Posted by Dave Richey on 03/28 at 03:24 PM
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