It was exciting, as the weeks passed, to "watch" for and sense, if not exactly "see" progress. Every morning when I woke up, I would hold some fingers up in front of my eye and see if I could discern their number. Slowly, day by day I went from seeing shapes to seeing greater details within the shapes. By the time I was able to "see" again I was beginning to notice distortions that I hoped were the result of differential swelling within the eye.
Over time, the body reabsorbs the bubble that was placed in the eye, and replaces the fluid with some sort of watery solution that takes the place of the vitreous. It was interesting to watch as the bubble shrunk. In time, there was only a small bubble left, and given the way visual optics work, since bubbles float, and it was at the top of my eye, my vision of it showed it at the bottom of my visual field. As I would go for my daily walk, I would plug my iPod into my ears and often keep pace with the tempo of the music. This would cause the bubble to "bounce" to the music, which reminded me of the old "sing along with the bouncing ball" TV shows that eventually devolved into karaoke.
Eventually, the bubble disappeared completely, but unfortunately, the distortions did not, and I became aware that the cause was swelling beneath the macula. Straight lines were no longer straight. but had a significant "bump" that lifted and distorted the visual field off to the right. I was regaining my sense of depth, and my three dimensional vision was returning, but I found that I was seeing the "aura" or "spirits" of mountains and trees and people that led me to believe I could now enjoy vision in the fourth dimension. Being an old psychedelic relic, I imagined as time went on, and the moon was in the seventh house and Jupiter aligned with Mars, I might well join the Fifth Dimension.
Hopefully, this swelling will subside in time. I am fascinated with this healing process. Taking my walks, I would notice the road would go off in two different directions as a result of the double vision. Over many weeks, it was a relief to note that the distortions seem to be diminishing. As I walked, and looked through one eye and then the next, the divergence of the road(s) slowly began to show improvements in alignment. The straight line distortions are becoming less severe.
Alaska Retinal did not want me to wait till I got back to California to have my cataract surgery and "wrinkle rectification." They said it could not wait, and I would just have to travel the thousand miles back to Anchorage and remain for a week between post-op and op. When I got there, I was told there were no wrinkles to repair, just swelling under the macula, and all they would do was the cataract surgery. That surgery yielded no discernible change in my vision. I was told on my first visit that there was no separation of the macula. I am told after the cataract surgery that my macula had been half detached. Perhaps over the course of a year the macular swelling will continue to subside and my vision will improve. I also know that over time, the brain filters out irrelevant information and therefore accommodates for visual discrepancies and erroneous signals. Gotta love it! I have been ignoring unimportant information for years!
(I must say here that over the course of several visits to AK Retinal, I am not at all pleased with the way they run their office, communicate with their patients, or deliver service. I will not belabor particular details, but for those who want to discuss the particulars, you can contact me. They are the only game in the state, they got me in pronto, it may be they did the best job possible. I will be getting a second opinion from a top-notch ophthalmologist in California next month, and will update this blog at that time with those results.)
I still would not be able to pass an eye test currently with an eye chart, though I would have no issue telling anyone what I am looking at with respect to people or objects or traffic signs. As was pointed out to me by AK Retinal, when I arrived in their office in May I was legally blind. (The clinical diagnosis refers to a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best possible correction.) My measured vision in my right eye ended up being 20/400. When last I was measured I was 20/70. It is hopeful that I may attain 20/40 in time. "Time" will tell, and we will "see" how it goes. So far, a far cry from the assurance that I would be back to normal in 4-6 weeks. Disappointed? Yes. However, we all suffer bumps in the road as we begin to wear out, and so far, after three bouts of cancer over 15 years, and a brush with blindness, I am counting my blessings, for so many suffer far worse. I have nothing to complain about. (Having said that, I do like to complain that my vision often gives me the feeling that I am in my "cups" without having had the fun of getting there. Dang it, I would give my right eye to get my vision back!)
I am happy to share my story, in some measure in the hopes that this might be helpful to a friend in the future. I have a few recommendations:
1. Have regular eye checks. Had I seen an ophthalmologist more regularly, this would have been avoided. (I had experienced flashes in the eye years ago, told they were tears, had them treated by laser, and told to be checked every six months ... having not had any subsequent flashes, I did not follow up as I should have done.)
2. If you start experiencing vision loss, beat feet to your nearest ophthalmologist. If I had not waited days to get my keister in gear, the result would have been much better. (I started "looking" into options pretty right away, and did the best I could, living in a very remote community, and hind-sight in this case is at least 20/70.)
3. Continue to count your blessings, and enjoy and experience the beauty and love around you.