Five Years

It’s been a while since I provided an update. As the saying goes… no news is good news. Things have been going very well with my eyes. I just got my new prescription and can see better now than at any time since my surgery (about 20/30). So let me step back and fill in my story since my last post. In the spring of last year I had another broken suture. It felt like I had a hair in my eye that I couldn’t rinse out. When I went to see my doctor, he ended removing the rest of my sutures – the running stitch and the outer sutures. I had some pain for a few days, and ended up going back about a week later because of redness and pain. He prescribed steroid drops for a few weeks, then I was fine. Removing the sutures definitely changed my vision. As my eyes settled, my prescription no longer matched my eye. I also didn’t have the up-close clear vision anymore; I used to be able to read up close small print very well with my corrected eye. I ended up getting reading glasses to help with the reading, a natural occurrence for those in their mid-40’s . I waited until this year to get a new prescription for my everyday glasses. With my new prescription I can see things pretty well. I still have some ghosting and blurriness, but I can make out street signs and license plates and read most text captions on the TV. I still have issues with my night vision, so I try not to drive at night, but I can if I have to. No rejection scares, and very little irritation. Things have been great.

One More Incident

A few days after my sutures were removed I was feeling a lot better. I was able to play a round of golf that Saturday and had a very busy Sunday. My the end of the day Sunday, I was tired. I stayed up a little later than I should have watching Sunday Night Football. On Monday, my eyes felt tired and were a little red. Monday night I stayed up a little late again, this time watching the news about the government shutdown. By Tuesday morning, my eyes were a little red and as the day went on left eye stayed red and started feeling a little worse. I went out for lunch, and that was when I noticed a little light sensitivity. I know that these are the symptoms to look out for, but I pushed through and just wanted to get to the end of the day so that I could go home and rest.

By the time I left work, I discovered that the light sensitivity was severe. I called Dr. Chow’s office during the drive home and spoke with the after-hours doctor. Given the symptoms, he said that I should go to the emergency room immediately. He told me to ask to see the Opthalmology resident to avoid getting the run-around from “regular” doctors and nurses. By the time I checked in, it felt like someone had stuck a needle in my eye. I just wanted to sit in a dark room.

About an hour after I arrived I was able to see the Opthalmology resident. He checked and rechecked my eyes. The bright lights were painful. It was so bad that shining a light in my good eye made my bad eye hurt! The “best” part was when he used the lens that looks like a magnifying glass to examine the back of my eye with a bright light. I can still feel that one :(

After the exam was completed and after he spoke with the after-hours doctor, I was diagnosed with Iritis, inflammation of the iris. Luckily, my cornea was in good shape and there was no infection. I was prescribed Pred Forte (the steroid drops that I took after the surgery), Homatropine (used to dilate the eye for comfort) and Erythromycin (an ophthalmic ointment). By the next morning, the redness and pain were gone. I want in to see Dr. Chow a couple of days later and things looked good. I’ll be on the Pred Forte for a month. Danger averted.

My lessons from this incident… stop staying up so late, and go to the doctor immediately if my eyes are red or if I notice light sensitivity.

Uh Oh… a Suture Broke

I haven’t written a post  in while. As they say, no news is good news. Everything had been going well for the most part. My vision has been pretty stable and I’ve seen slight improvements in my vision during eye exams. I got my last pair of glasses in March. I didn’t find glasses that I liked at my optometrist’s office, so I ordered a couple pairs from Glasses.com. They did a surprisingly good job filling the prescription. With such a high index, I didn’t know what to expect. One of the pairs had Transitions lenses, which tint in sunlight. I wasn’t sure how I would like not having control over the tint, but those has worked out well. I always seem to lose or break the snap-on sunglasses that came with past frames. The Transitions lenses haven’t been an annoyance when moving indoors, which was a concern. I only wish they tinted a little darker, and a little quicker.

Now, on to the incident. This past Sunday, I started to feel some irritation in my left eye. It felt a lot like I had an eyelash in my eye. Monday during work, my eye was still watering. I bought some wetting drops, but I still felt the irritation. My eye was also starting to get a little red. By Tuesday morning I know it was time to see Dr. Chow. I scheduled an emergency appointment and he was able to see me later that morning. He poked around in my eye and noticed that one suture was loose. He decided to remove two of the sutures on the left side, about a 30 second procedure. I could tell as soon as he was done that the main source of the irritation was gone.

This was my first broken suture. I had a feeling about what was going, since some of the stories I read mentioned the sensation I was feeling. I was a little concerned because the stories mentioned the sutures don’t always come out cleanly or can become buried in the graft. My transplant took place more than 3 years ago, so I was expecting the worst. During the procedure I felt a little tug, but no pain and no other issues.

I went home and took a long nap. When I woke up I felt a lot better.

Two Years

It’s been a little more than two years since my surgery. Things are going really well. I have a new pair of glasses and my surgical eye is now correctable to 20/25. Not a sharp 20/25, but so much better than before. I am able to use my eye for the first time in a long time. I can read computer screens and street signs with my “good” eye closed. Although things aren’t as sharp as my other eye, the two work together pretty well. The only problem that I have is that I still have irritated eyes from time to time, and my eyes are very sensitive to perfume and other fragrances. I also still have some difficulty driving at night because of the clarity of objects at a distance. Glare is no longer that problem that it was before my surgery.

Medically things are fine as well. My cornea specialist continues to says that everything looks good. I am no longer taking any steroid drops. I still have most of my stitches in and I’m not sure if or when those will come out. I’ll continue to provide updates on my condition, but so far so good!

One and a Half Years

It has now been almost 20  months since my surgery. Things are still going well. I took a plane trip to California without any incidents. I’ve heard about some people have problems because of the cabin pressure. My vision improvement seems to be pretty stable now. I haven’t had any more stitches removed since the first few months after surgery. My doctor said that he wanted to keep them in since I haven’t had any problems with broken stitches or infection. I am seeing him now about every three months. He says that everything is looking good. There are no signs of rejection and everything looks fine. I am still seeing in the 20/40 to 20/50 range in my left eye.

After a year, I still get questions from friends and family about the surgery and how my eyes are doing. I tell them that vision is better, but not as good as I hoped it would be. While it’s great to be able to see better, things are still not very sharp. While the distortion used to be a lot more, almost like a circular blob, the distortion that I see now with glasses is almost like a letter V. If I look at a point of light, like a stop light, I see a bunch of lights overlapped. My glasses bring these lights closer together, which allows me to see the object more clearly, but because they aren’t brought all the way together these object is still fuzzy.

Hopefully my vision continue to improve. I still have a difficult time driving at night and seeing things at a distance. But I can see many things more clearly. I can see the score of the game on TV without having to ask my wife. I can read close-up text better with my left eye than I can with my non-surgical eye. I haven’t had any problems with infection, rejection or broken stitches. I feel blessed to be able to see better!

One Year

It has been a while since I’ve posted. Everything has been going well. It’s amazing to think that it’s been a year since my surgery. Here’s an update since my last post way back in Month 9. I’ve had no more incidents since the issue in November. I noticed my vision, especially the under 3-foot distance, improving. One thing that I use as a reference point is the logo in the center of my car’s steering wheel. Initially it was difficult for me to see the logo clearly, but over time I have been able to see the letters more clearly. What has made a huge improvement was finally being able to get fitted for glasses. The glasses have corrected the vision in my left eye from 20/300 pre-surgery to around 20/40. I was expecting coke bottle glasses, but surprisingly they were not much thicker than my right lens.  My vision isn’t perfect, but it gives me greater depth perception and the ability to actually read things like street signs. I have also taken the kids to see a couple of 3-D movies and was able to see the effect.

My doctors reduced the number number of times I take the Lotemax drops. I’m now taking them once every two days. It takes time to get used to the decrease. I find my eyes to be a little dry and sticky toward the end of that second day. The glasses make such a difference. One of these days I might try contacts again, since I was told that this will probably be the only way to correct my vision more. I just don’t like the idea of putting things in my eyes again.

Month 9

Things have been going well since my last post. I’ve noticed slow, but steady improvement in my vision. Things have stabilized with my eye pressure. At my eye appointment a few weeks ago they were able to correct my vision to 20/40… a blurry 20/40, but definitely better than the 20/300 I was getting before. I was scheduled to visit my optometrist this week to get fitted for new eyeglasses, but had a minor setback last weekend. I woke up last Sunday with pain, redness and severe light sensitivity, which are all symptoms of rejection. I got in touch with my doctor that day. I bumped up my dropped and was planning to see him on Monday. When I woke up, all of the pain and light sensitivity was gone, but I still had some redness. He asked me to continue taking 4 drops a day for 2 weeks and mentioned that I should delay the eye appointment. I was back to normal by Tuesday. I’m still not sure that caused the incident; it might have been sleeping on my eye wrong, not getting enough sleep, or something else.

I also had a milestone this week – I was able to confirm that I have some depth perception. This past weekend my wife and I took the kids to see a short Halloween-themed 3-D movie. While I didn’t get the full experience, I was able to see many of the 3-D elements. Prior to my surgery, I was unable to perceive any of the 3-D effects when I watched a 3-D movie at the Detroit auto show. I’ll probably try this again after I get my glasses. So far so good though. Maybe one day I’ll be able to see what this 3-D craze is all about.

Month 7

It has been a while since my last post. I’m still healthy and my vision is still improving, albeit a lot slower than I had hoped. The last couple of months has been very busy, with work and a couple of trips and great weather.

During my July appointment I was able to read the 20/60 line on the eye chart. Even though I’m still seeing the multiple images, which affects the sharpness of my vision, I have noticed things getting a little better. Something that amazes me some days is that I’m able to see depth, especially objects within a couple of feet. It’s a strange feeling that I’m still getting use to. I’m also able to see things close up (6-8 inches) very well, although things go out of focus after that. The funny thing is that, as I approach 40, the vision in my “good” eye is getting worse up close, so I find myself using my “bad” eye for reading small print and my “good” eye for seeing everything else. I guess this is better than asking my wife to read small type for me like I used to.

I have only had one problem so far… during my August appointment, my eye pressure was high. My doctor took me off of the Prednisolone Acetate drops and switched me to Lotemax drops, three times a day. He also had me take Travatan drops to lower the eye pressure. I returned a week later and the pressure was still high, so he cut the Lotemax to twice a day and also prescribed Combigan twice a day. These drops irritate my eyes a lot more, but hopefully they are lowering the eye pressure. I go back again on Friday, so hopefully I can get back to a regular routine.

So after seven months, with seven stitches removed, here I am. I’ll try to post something sooner.

Month 4

It’s been a while since my last post at Week 9. I had just had my first two stitches removed. I had two more stitches removed in May, and two more removed last Thursday. My vision is pretty much unchanged since last month. My health has been excellent, and I haven’t had any problems with pain, infections or (much) light-sensitivity. I am looking forward to the day when I can get fitted for a new eyeglass prescription so that I can see if going through this procedure was worth it. Without having clear vision outside of 6″ – 8″, it’s hard to tell. My doctors continues to tell me that everything is going well. The cornea is still clear, and the donor cornea has a good shape. He said that he will continue to remove stitches to fine-tune the shape, so I will continue to have monthly appointments for the foreseeable future. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a prescription within the next couple of months.

I continue to use a couple of informal barometers to check my progress. My DirecTV box has a bright blue ring in the front, so I continue to check the spread pattern of my vision. I mocked up an example in my Week 9 post. The pattern is still round, just a little wider and softer. This explains why my vision is still blurry at distances. I can also see a pattern in my non-surgical eye, but the spread is less and more random. My glasses bring everything into focus, so I continue to be hopeful that the same can be done in my surgical eye. It is difficult to remember how bad my vision was prior to the surgery, but I do remember that I my vision was equally blurry  whether I was looking through my lens or not. I am also able to read close-up text through my surgical eye, such as the fine print found on the back of a credit card. This is something that I can’t even do with my non-surgical eye. I have also noticed a significant reduction is nighttime glare, which makes it easier to drive at night. Unfortunately, since neither eye has good vision at a distance, I still limit my night driving when I can.

So that’s about it for now. Hopefully I can continue to be healthy and more toward better vision. I’m down to three drops of the OmniPred per day, and I only take Vigamox for two days immediately after stitches are removed. Oh yeah, stitches being removed… The first set of stitches that I had removed was pain free. I felt pretty good the day-of, but the next day I had some redness, light-sensitivity and a little bit of pain. I had a little bit of pain while the second set of stitches were removed, and had the same pain the next day. I had the same pain following removal of the third set, so know I think I know what to expect… typically about 24 hours of discomfort and redness. After that it’s back to normal.

If I’ll try to post updates more frequently if something changes. Otherwise, no news is good news.

Week 9

Last week I had my 2-month follow-up with my doctor. He said that everything looks good. A topography was taken of my eye, and my first two stitches were removed – one near the top and one near the bottom-right. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, but it was surprisingly easy. He asked me to open my eye wide, then he used a q-tip to hold open my top lid while he removed each stitch with a pair of tweezers. I felt a small tug, but other than that there was no pain or discomfort and he was done in less than a minute. I had a little but of pain the next day, relieved by pain medicine. I felt back to normal after a couple days. This was what I was told to expect.

[image size=”medium” align=”left”]http://www.bdwilliams.com/wp-content/uploads/week9.jpg[/image]Immediately after my appointment I didn’t notice any change (positive or negative) in my vision. As the days progressed, it actually seemed to be worse. My vision is still blurry, with the multiple images, but I did notice a change in the pattern. Before the stitches were removed, the blurriness was very random. When I looked at a bright light source, the pattern was shaped kind of like Idaho… there was a narrow cluster near the top and a wider cluster around the bottom. After the stitches were removed, the cluster was more round and symmetrical. Although my vision seems worse, it’s important to realize that I’m still looking out of my old lens. That prescription distorts my vision a lot, so I really don’t know if my vision is better or worse.

My next appointment is in a month. Hopefully I can get the OK to start golfing. The weather has been terrific and I’m ready to get out there!

Week 7

I has been about a month since my last post, and almost seven weeks since my surgery. The swelling is pretty much gone, and I don’t have as much sensitivity to light. Up until about a week ago I was still having problems with light during my morning commute. The sun was right at eye level, so it felt like a flashlight (a really bright, hot one) was being shined in my eyes, even with sunglasses on. I still need to wear sunglasses when the sun is out, but driving is a lot better now.

My vision is still very blurry, but I can see things that I couldn’t see before. My vision still changes from day to day, so some days I can barely read text on my computer screen, and other days it’s just a blur. One point of reference that I use to test my vision us reading the address on envelopes. I few weeks ago I could read the address from about 3 inches way. Now I can read the address from about 14 inches away.

My next appointment is in about 10 days when I’m supposed to start getting stitches removed. That should be interesting…,

Eye Photos

Here are some photos of my eye before and after the surgery:

Pre-surgery

Pre-surgery

Day of Surgery (eye shield)

Day 1 (red and swollen)

Day 1

Day 2

Day 4 (less red but still swollen)

Day 5

Day 5

One Week Post-surgery

Week 1

Two Weeks Post-surgery

Three Weeks Post-surgery