Just when I start focusing on healthy eating, a totally unrelated health issue plagues me. Here’s my tale of woe…
A couple of weeks ago, I went to my biennial eye exam expecting to get an updated prescription for glasses and contacts.
After I sat down in the exam chair, the doc gave me that plastic eyepatch-on-a-stick thingie to cover one eye and asked me to read as far down on the eye chart as possible with my “unobstructed” eye. I then swapped eyes and repeated it.
[I’m a near-sighted fool, so I always feel like I’m taking a pass/fail test when I read an eyechart. Even with my glasses or contacts on, I never make it very far down on the chart. It’s embarrassing. MAJOR FAIL!]
After that, the doc used the bigger-than-your-head reverse goggle thingamajiggy (more formally referred to as a slit lamp) to point a beam of light into my eyes and stared intently at them. Then, she said something you NEVER want to hear when a doctor’s examining you, “Hmmm…that’s interesting.”
“Interesting” is Rarely Good
It’s not a compliment you hear when a doctor’s examining you. It’s more often used when things aren’t as they should be. I don’t want to be “interesting”. I prefer to hear, “Everything looks good.”
She asked me if I suffer from dry eye. Not to my knowledge.
HER: “Any pain in your eyes?”
ME: “Eye pain? No. I mean, I occasionally have some blurry vision in the evenings when I spend a long day staring at the computer screen. Figured it was eye strain.”
HER: “Let’s see what we can see, shall we?”
The doc added yellow stain to my eyes and handed me a tissue to wipe away any florescent-colored leakage.
Will the jaundice look ever really be considered fashionable? Unlikely.
Slit Lamp Torture – The Sequel
The doctor returned to the slit lamp and beamed the brightest blinding light ever known to man into one of my eyes and then the other. It felt like she was drilling the light through my head – painful for me to focus on it, which is exactly what you’re supposed to do.
NOTE: Another thing you don’t want to hear unless you’re 100+ years old and tired of living – “Look into the light…”
After peering intently at my aching eyeballs for what seemed like forever, the doc pushed the offensive light torture machine away and said, “It’s what I thought. You have SPK.”
When a doctor tells you there’s something wrong, it’s tough to avoid immediately thinking you have some horrible affliction. I think death. A slow painful death. You can’t control where your thoughts go, but obviously mine go dark. Fast.
“SPK, or Superficial Punctate Keratitis, is…” and she went on to give me all the details. If learning the official name of the eye exam torture machine didn’t quench your thirst for medical knowledge, you can click on the link.
For the rest of you, SPK is a fancy-schmancy way of saying my cornea are VERY irritated. On a scale of 1-10, the doc said my eyes were an “8”. UGH.
Here are some other SPK highlights:
- It’s a viral infection and isn’t serious (at this stage) [insert ominous music here]
- Typical recovery time is 4-6 weeks, but possibly 6-8 for me (I’m so lucky)
- Treatment is antibiotic/steroidal eye drops 2-3 times a day
- Eye moistener drops 5-6 times per day (at least 15 mins difference from the other eye drops)
- Glasses only for the duration of my recovery. Contacts are a no-no, but if they must be worn, only wear them for extremely brief periods of time
- I need to blink more when I’m looking at the computer screen [Blink more? Wha??]
FACTOID OF THE DAY…when you look at a computer screen, you focus so intently on whatever you’re reading that you blink less frequently than “normal”. It causes dry eye. So, when looking at a computer screen, you’re supposed to consciously blink more to avoid dry eye and/or irritating your eyes. Apparently, that wet stuff in your eyes is very important. Who knew?
After learning all I ever wanted to know about SPK, I scheduled a follow up appointment and left to get my prescription filled and begin my eye drop marathon.
Of course, I left without what I originally sought (no new glasses. no new contacts). I can’t follow up on that dream until after the SPK clears up.
Flash Forward to Today
I returned to the eye doctor to get my peepers stained and checked for progress. It was a good news – bad news kinda visit. My right eye improved a lot. My left eye, not so much.
Don’t understand how that happens. Same body. Same treatments. Go figure…
So, on a scale of 1-5, Doc says my eyes were a 4. Now, my right eye’s a 2 and my left eye’s a 3. Damn you, stubborn, lazy left eye!
Then, the “air puff” test. This is the test where you’re forced to look into a machine that targets gale force wind directly at your eyeball and accompanies the abusive “breeze” with a startling “POP” noise. It tests your eye pressure. High eye pressure puts you at risk for glaucoma. It also tests just how violently you flinch. I flinch A LOT.
Apparently, increased eye pressure can also mean you’re having a reaction to steroids in the prescription eye drops. And of course, I’m having a reaction. Why not? Makes me more “interesting”. [grumble grumble grumble]
The doc isn’t overly concerned. She said it’s just good to know so she can give me new antibiotic-only prescription. She then told me to continue my eye drop regime until my next appointment. Three weeks from now. Seems like forever.
Until then, you’ll find me blinking and dropping fluid into my eyes as often as possible.
Don’t worry. The tears you see on my cheeks are mostly excess eyedrops.
Mostly.Photo Credits: – Image #1 (eyeballs) used under Creative Commons from Lifesupercharger. – Image #2 (slit lamp) used under Creative Commons from Vitor Pamplona. – Image #3 (blink) used under Creative Commons from Ryan McBride