Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Next steps

I had another visit to the hospital yesterday, starting at 4.30am when the alarm woke me with time to drive to Bangor and catch an early train. This visit was rather different for I was to see a new consultant (in a different clinic) who deals with intra-ocular lenses and retinas. For the time being, the glaucoma is controlled by the tube implant.

After preliminary examinations by a junior doctor, I saw Mr Charles, the consultant, a very busy man who is constantly being interrupted by juniors seeking advice about the patients they are examining. The same sort of thing happened with Miss Fenerty.

Mr Charles had a very close look at both my eyes, pronouncing my normal one to be healthy as he did so. That's good news. As for my troublesome eye, he laid out the options. Option 1 was do nothing which would result in poor vision getting worse as the dispaced lens inside does ever more damage to the cornea's internal surface, causing increasing cloudiness - oedema - and resulting in time in virtually no vision. The lens might even slip round to the back of the eye, causing retinal detachment. Option 2 was to undergo a rather complicated operation under general anaesthetic during which he would perform several things:
  • vitrectomy: removal of the vitrous jelly which fills the back of the eye. It was shreds of this which blocked the tube a while back
  • an injection into the macular to clear the swelling which gives me the sea urchin effect I described in my last post
  • removal of the displaced lens
  • insertion and suturing of a new lens to replace it, a difficult thing to do given the state of my eye but, in his opinion, worth having a go at

He was quite open about the chances of success which are no more than good for an eye like mine. He's done many of these lens operations, he said, and none have gone wrong but there would always by a chance of various complications. My eye is, as he said, a very difficult problem. Even so, he seemed to think the risks worth taking, given the alternative. I agreed and the operation is to be in about 2 months. If the operation is successful, I should gain better vision but the cornea will not recover and so I may need a complete corneal graft in a year or so.

Before leaving, I had to have the usual pre-operative check-up: blood samples, ECG, MRSA swabs and so on. I also had to have some measurements of the eye to enable them to order a new lens to the specifications needed by my eye. These measurement were not easy, as it turned out, since the normal laser machine couldn't record anything because of the cloudy cornea. So the operator of the machine had to use an ultrasound proble pressed against the eye surface repeatedly. Her aim was to get consistent results and it was some time before she managed to do this.

I arrived home in the evening to an empty and dark house because Val had left that same morning to visit Suzanne in Sheffield for 3 days. I was rather tired having had a poor night's sleep - as one does when needing to get up very early. I had a good sleep last night and today, reflecting on what will be happening, feel fairly positive about it all.

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