Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Blind as a Batshit Crazy

Y'all know I have problems. I have problems that could fill a book. But I don't think that I have shared with you my eye problems. So here goes.

In my family, you either get the good eyes (Dad's side) or the good teeth (Mom's side). Well, I am blind as a bat. If I am not wearing glasses or contacts, I will literally walk into walls. Yes, it has happened before. That's how I can say that. If glasses or contacts did not exist, I would be legally blind, and probably fluent in Braille. Unless it is approximately 3 inches from my face, I cannot see diddly squat.

To make matters even more complicated, I have astigmatism in my left eye. The way I understand it, this means that my cornea has a little ripple in it, when it's supposed to be just a smooth dome shape. It takes a little more effort to find a contact that fits my left eye, because it has to line up with the astigmatism just right, or else everything will be blurry. (And in case you're wondering, this would also make LASIK eye surgery more challenging, too.)

I also have vision that is progressively getting worse as I age. (This eliminates me from the LASIK option entirely.) So I have to go to the eye doctor whenever I run out of disposable contacts, because by then, they aren't working for me, anyway. Oh, so much fun. $$$$$$$$$$ *sigh*

The icing on the cake is that I detest the eye exams. Unless you have less-than-perfect vision, you will not know what I'm talking about, but basically the doctor shines lights into your eyes that are so bright, your eyes water profusely, and you are convinced that you will burn your retinas away. Just thinking about it is making my eyes water as I type this. It is so uncomfortable, you clench your teeth and squirm in the chair. Then, they stick things in your eyes, blow air into your eyes without letting you blink and dilate your pupils (which makes your eyeballs feel all numb and weird)....ugh. To be honest, I'd rather go to the dentist. Eye exams SUCK.

When I went to my old eye doctor a couple years ago, I decided to spring for updated lenses in my glasses, too. That way, I would have the option of wearing glasses or contacts. The contacts came out great, but the glasses didn't. I could see okay up close, but I could not read the road signs when I was driving. I took the glasses back, and it turned out that one of the lenses was flawed, so they replaced it. I tried the glasses again. They were not much better. I took the glasses back a second time. I passed the little eye test, and the doctor declared that my glasses were fine. But I still could not read the road signs. The eye chart you have to read to prove you can see 20/20 is easy -- it's maybe 7 feet away from you. But when you're driving, you need to see road signs sooner than 7 feet away! I didn't take the glasses back a third time, because I would look like I was a crazy person. So I have not been wearing my glasses for the past few years.

I was so frustrated, I never went back. I have "updated" lenses in my glasses that don't even work. And they cost $100. Whatever.

So this time, I picked a new eye doctor. When I went in yesterday, it all seemed to be going well. She recommended a different solution to clean my contacts with, and I like it a LOT better. She is concerned with how bloodshot my eyes are all the time. I told her I sit in front of a computer all day, so that's probably why they are like that. (None of my other eye doctors have ever been concerned with this, so she scored some points with me for trying to solve my red eye problem).

Then we got to the eye exam part, where the doctor figures out the strength you need in your contacts/glasses. This involves her putting different lenses in front of your eyes and asking you which lens works better for you. She was no different than any other eye doctor I've ever had: she rushed through it, expecting my eyes to adjust to different lenses in the blink of an eye. (Sorry, that was a bad pun!) Well, my eyes must be stupidly slow, because I had to keep asking her to show me the choices a second or even a third time. And the differences between the lenses were so minor, it was hard to tell which ones worked better. I did my best, and she put some new contacts in my eyes. She said this was my new prescription, and they seemed ok as I blinked and looked around.

I instantly noticed how comfortable they are -- much more comfortable than my old brand. And I could see just fine in her office, so I went ahead and told her everything was great.

"Ok, wear these a few days, see how you like them. If we don't hear from you, we are going to order your new contacts on the 12th so you can pick them up after your vacation. Sound good?" the doctor explained.

I nodded and thanked her. Then I paid for my exam and left.

On the way home, I kept "testing" my new contacts by seeing how clear the road signs were. How soon could I read them? How clear were they? Was it better than my old prescription? Or were the signs fuzzy? And my new contacts seemed ok. Not great, but adequate. I thought, "Hmm. This is funny. Usually I can tell there's a huge difference when I have a new, stronger prescription in my contacts. Everything is crystal clear. These are...about the same as my last prescription." But I didn't worry about it too much, because they were so comfortable and I figured my eyes needed to recuperate after my eye exam, full of crazy bright lights. I decided to see how they were today before I made up my mind.

I put my contacts in this morning -- they feel FANTASTIC. Between the different brand of contact solution and the new brand of contacts, my eyes feel great. They are still red, but they feel fine.

But I can't see shit. Anything 6 feet away from me is blurry. I was in a meeting this morning, and I couldn't read a single word on the presenter's screen at the front of the conference room. That is just not right. Not to mention unacceptable. I could see MUCH better with my old contacts -- the prescription that is 2 years old.

These new contacts aren't even as strong as my last prescription, when they are supposed to be stronger!! AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGH.

I'm starting to think that maybe I have an eye disorder. Or that I am just plain crazy. How can they work fine in the doctor's office, but not when I'm driving??? That makes no sense. Especially when I could see ok yesterday, but today, it's abysmal. It is noticeably worse. Same contacts, same eyeballs, same road signs. But I can't see shit. I am losing my mind. I have now had the same problem with two different doctors! What the heck is wrong with me??

I thought maybe it was just one contact that was wrong, so I covered up one eye. Then I covered up the other eye. Nope. Both eyes are equally blurry. Both contacts are bad.

"Do you have the contacts in backwards? Maybe you put your right contact into your left eye," my coworkers have been suggesting.

This is impossible, I explained to them. Putting a regular contact into an eye with astigmatism is massively painful. I would know instantly if that were the case. I honestly don't know what the heck is wrong.

I went ahead and made a last-minute appointment for 2:30 this afternoon. I am worried that when I sit in her little chair, and read her little eye chart, I will pass the 20/20 vision test, in her professional opinion. But I KNOW I won't be able to see anything out side of those four walls!! I really want to get to the bottom of this. Not being able to see is such a pain, especially when you're shelling out so much money!

I am frustrated. I am blind. Hopefully, I'm not crazy, too. Wish me luck.


cmk said...

Glasses--ARGHHHHHH!!!!! I have extremely bad nearsightedness, bad astigmatism, and have needed bi-focals since before turning 40, so I know the problems there are with an eye exam. I have an appointment to see if I qualify for LASEK (not LASIK) surgery on Friday--my ophthalmologist thinks I should be able to have it. And this would have NOTHING to do with vanity--I just want to be able to see better. Contacts aren't an option for me--at least in terms of seeing better--simply because of my astigmatism. I hope you have good luck with your appointment and I hope I have good luck with mine! :)

Smug said...

I have minor issues with my eyes, basically I can't see things that are far away. I have worn glasses for the last 8-9 years, but only when I needed them, like to drive or during a class or whatever. When I was getting married I did not want to wear my black framed glasses down the aisle, so I got contacts. I hate them, I hate having anything in my eyes, it took me forever to wear mascara! But I really wanted to be able to see my husband at the end of aisle, so I kept wearing them on and off. Do you know that in all the hustle and bustle of the wedding day I forgot to put them in and only realized it when the doors opened and I could not see anyone! Oh well! I have not worn them since!
Sorry that you are having issues - just don't leave until you get some resolution, you are paying them after all!!

Becky said...

omg good luck! you leave tomorrow! i hope this all fixed by then!

Stuck said...

I used to have the exact same problem, VB. Not eligible for LASIK, bad astigmatism, and new contacts/glasses would end up giving blurred vision, despite the eye chart being clear. A friend of mine recommended I go to their eye doctor, and I've not had a problem since. I'll email you the details, if you're interested.

For now, though, go back to the new doctor and tell her that her contacts feel great, but don't correct enough. It might not be the contacts that are the problem. It could be something like your eyes just don't focus fast enough. (My father passed this lovely trait onto me. Please don't tell the DMV that's why I take so long during the eye exam part.) Try looking at something closer than the chart first, then looking at the chart to see how quickly the letters come into focus.

teahouse said...

Ugh, I haven't been to the eye doctor in a couple of years. Sorry things are so problematic!! I hope you are able to figure things out.

Fluffycat said...

I sympathize as I've been through the exact same thing. The bloodshot eyes comes from your eyes not getting enough oxygen. I was wearing Acuvues forever and my last eye doctor said that caused the problem. The new lenses are much better for getting oxygen.

Honestly, nothing more important than being able to see while you are driving and good of you to keep pushing it. I don't hate the eye tests as much as you, but it's still silly. I usually say "it doesn't make a huge difference" when I take them. I started wearing glasses when I was five years old.

I'm going to do LASIK one of these days. Even if your eyes are getting worse, LASIK should slow that down and bring you down to a reasonable if not perfect vision. But it's still expensive and kinda scary to me, opening your eye ball up with a laser.

Sam said...

OMG! You have my eyeballs. Except my right eye has astigmatism, too. Just not as bad as the left. I gave up on contacts years ago. Damn toric lenses hated my eyes. And...my eyes are still getting worse each year. Not a huge amount, but still worse. And I have thin corneas so no Lasik if/when my eyes stop changing. I would have to do PRK. Yuck. I feel you with the eyeball crappiness. Go back and talk to doctor #2 until you're happy. They should expect this reaction with a prescription that is as fucked as yours...at least that is what my eyes doctors have told me about contacts, that it should take several tries to get it right and comfy. Sorry for the novel!

Debbie said...

OMG, it is like you are describing me!! My left is horrid. Like you, my eyes are significantly worse every year when I go in for new contacts.

I have an appointment next week and am hoping they will figure out why I am blind every other day. Seriously, some days my eyes are completely normal. Two hours later, I can't see a thing.

I think I may have figured out something on my own though. Do you use 'oily' mascara remover at night? I am wondering if the oil is getting into my eyes over night and that is what is causing my eyes to be blurry the next day. So... I went and bought the non-oily mascara remover. I haven't been 'blind' for a few days. We shall see if this is my problem.

Good luck figuring out what is wrong, I have been living with this problem for over 10 years.

The Dummy said...

Hey, how did your appointment go? Are you able to see again? Can you even read our comments? :) kidding