he’s a half-blinker

just a quick update for those who care about my crazy eye issues…

i went back for my followup appt. for my contacts. if you’re just joining us, previously i had talked about my keratoconus and that i will be wearing contacts for forever (or until it’s down to eye surgery or nothing) to counter the pointy-ness of my eyeballs.

fast-forward >> i went in for my followup. my left eye had been bothering me when i was wearing the contacts, but overall, my vision seems better when i’m wearing them (read: when i can stand to wear them). i tell the doc that it’s been bothering me so we do another exam for the prescription and tweak it a bit and try a different style lens, which feels better. but it’s as i’m wearing this and he’s staring at my eyeball through the crazy contraption thingie and he says to the student who’s in the room observing “oh, he’s a half-blinker.”

……wtf?

“i’m a half-blinker, eh?” i say, amused. apparently part of my problem is that i am a half-blinker. he tells me a lot of new contact wearers will blink halfway thinking (probably subconsiously that it will hurt/bother them less and apparently i’m one of these people. the fact that there’s a term for this, and that that term is “half-blinker” still strikes me as incredibly odd. but it explains a lot about why my eyes have felt like they dry out really fast and why the eyedrops only help temporarily.

the good news is that my right eye is 20/20 again with the contact with not much distortion

so i’m getting one new lens with a (hopefully) better prescription.

also, this is a reminder that TOMORROW IS DOWNLOAD DAY! so get your download fingers ready and go to http://spreadfirefox.com.

it’s official…

…i’m getting contacts.

went in to see the local keratoconus specialist (and he really is, he’s at the university of utah and one of his primary interests is keratoconus, so that’s pretty cool).  we talked for a bit and he fitted me for some contacts and they ordered a set which should arrive in a couple weeks.

aside from my paranoid eyeball-phobia, i’m still tentative because i really didn’t see an improvement with the test lenses (since they weren’t prescription), in fact i saw worse.  when we did those and redid the eye test, the shadows in my right eye became more distinct and distracting (and actually appeared in a different place than i am used to) which, he said, was due to some residual untreated astigmatism and basically that’s going to be the thing…it’s probably not going to be perfect, we just hope it will be better.

so i’m still not sure what to expect and my body kind of went into shock the first time we tried the test lenses so i’m feeling very tentative at the moment.  but i’m going to have to deal with it eventually and sooner rather than later…he elaborated on what the other doc said about being sort of on the cusp of legal driving limit.  he said my vision is about 20/30 – 20/40 in my right (good) eye and like 20/60 in my left eye.  the legal driving limit is 20/40, so if my right eye gets any worse,  then i’m not legal to drive, so something needs to be done.

he did say that the keratoconus wasn’t that bad (by the very fact that i’m able to do stuff…like drive, for instance), and a corneal transplant won’t be in my near future so here’s hoping the contacts will be the solution.  he also said that, being young, it’s likely that the keratoconus will get worse and that will be something to keep an eye (ha) on down the road.

pointy like my eyeball

topography was yesterday and it’s official, i have Keratoconus, or KC as it’s commonly abbreviated.  so the funness comes in here in that i went in for an eye exam, expecting a prescription, on the day my medical benefits from albertsons’ went buh-bye, and now i’ve got a eye condition that needs treatment with no insurance, and it won’t kick in with whole foods until i’ve worked 400 hours.  and seeing as how it sounds like the type of shifts they want me to work will be night shifts, getting contacts is important asap.  plus, i’d like to see.

the more i look at the pictures of the pointy KC eyeballs, like on the wiki article,  the less freaked out by them i am, and i’m forcing myself to come to terms with the contact lens thing.  i’m gonna have to get used to stuff whether i like it or not.  of course, we just watched an episode of deadwood the other night in which one guy popped the other guy’s eyeball out of its’ socket in a brawl, and he’s screaming, and the eyeball is dangling, and it was still pretty disturbing.  erin was laughing at my squeamishness — which, usually, goes the other way around — because she’s seen that exact thing on animals before working at the humane society.  even though it was late, i made us watch the whole episode because i didn’t want to go to bed thinking about eyeball popping out of its socket.

the guy who did the topography didn’t say how “bad” my KC was, just that i had it.  but i’ve found a couple of good sites that i del.icio.us‘d, one that has user-submitted photographs artificially (read: photoshopped) to look like various degrees of severity of KC, and i’m certainly not the worst.  i’m actually more on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of how i see.  more than anything else, i feel relieved that i’m not just totally insane and making this shit up because that’s how i’ve felt sometimes since it’s not like i don’t see clearly.  i do see clearly, but there’s other stuff, interference, in the way, shadows and ghosts and flares and things that make it hard to make out certain types of things even though my vision is more or less okay.

so i didn’t really go into what KC was in my last post, i just pointed to the wiki.  what it is is a conical formation of the cornea caused by thinning of the tissue there.  various factors and theories exist as to why the tissue thins, but chronic eye rubbing doesn’t help.  and according to some further research i’ve done, there is no real direct link to heredity — there are numerous cases of multiple members of families having it, but researchers haven’t been able to specifically attribute it to genetics.  so conical formation of the cornea — in english it means your eye gets pointy, and if you see pictures on the web of KC, you’ll know just how pointy.  i’m gonna make erin take a picture of my pointy eyeballs so i know wtf they look like so i can sort of compare with the horrible extreme-o-pictures i’ve found on the web.

normally, when your eye is more or less spherical, the light comes in, angles to a common point of reference, and projects on the back of your eyeball which gets translated by your brain and that’s how you see.  if your eye is an irregular shape, say more oval than round, then you see double images, and that’s astigmatism.  when your eyeball is pointy, the light comes in at crazy angles, and bounces all over the place inside your eyeball.  naturally, the image they produce is gonna be wacky, and have stuff all over the place.  most of the pictures i found on KCVision are way worse than how i see.  my eyeball is slightly more pointy down and slightly left of my pupil.  so some of the light comes in and bounces high and right on the back of my eyeball.  images appear upside down when they’re projected on your eyeball and your brain flips them right-side up, so how i see is the normal image anyone with good eyesight would see, and then a duzzy and light 2nd image below and to the left of that.  as i said before my left eye is shot — i have KC worse in that eye than my right — and also, the location of the pointy-ness is different.  so that means i have at least two shadows although i think i really see out of my right eye most of the time, because when i try to look out of my left i, everything’s fuzzy, and it’s not just the KC i don’t think.  maybe it is.  i dunno.  but i see crappy when i just try to look out of my right eye too.  and when my eyes are split, like through binoculars or the new eye exam at the DMV where you have to look through a thing instead of just read the letters off the back wall, or other optometrist exams where you’re looking through a thing at a light or a picture, it exaggerates and intensifies the effects of the KC so that i can’t really see whatever it is that i’m supposed to be looking at.

so this leads into the fact that today is my first real day working at WF.  my manager, or team lead as WF referrs to them, said that his mornings and mids are pretty much covered.  which leaves nights and closing, and i really don’t want to be making that drive down the mountains at night with this.  well-lit roads are one thing, horrible and distracting but better than non-lit highways with lots of headlights coming in the opposite direction.  to make my timing even more perfect, today when i woke up it had snowed last night and was the first time it really stuck to the roads. it’s the 2nd snow, but the first wasn’t really all that heavy.  so now there’s that too.  which all leads me to want to get the KC taken care of, or at least under control, whether i have insurance or not, because it’s going to be really bad without.

simple, huh?

so i went in to what i expected to be a routine eye exam before my albertsons’ insurance was up to get some glasses.  i knew i needed them or at least that something was up.  driving at night sucked, i have a hard time reading subtitles, and things are, in general, blurry around the edges.  so i schedule an appt. at the local lens crafters.  i go in the initial pre-screening and i tell them my last exam was probably 4 years ago and i left with a prescription that was +0.50 and barely did anything, so i never really wore the glasses i got out of that. the first thing the tech said was “yeah, it’s changed since then.”  a bit foreboding but i figured as much.  then he mutters something about astigmatism.  i ask about it later and he said i had astigmatism and explained what it was to me, and said “and you’re only a little myopic.”  been in the place 15 minutes and already i’ve got 2 conditions.  okay, fine, no problem, i knew i needed glasses.

the doc was busy with another patient so i waited around for a while.   he finally saw me and we did the whole “1 or 2” deal.  he was patient and understood when i said there wasn’t a difference really on the occasions that happened.  at the end, he assembled the prescription on the crazy test glasses contraption thing and i couldn’t see at all.  i saw better without the prescription than i did with it.  so he did the whole routine again, with the exact same results.  so then he twiddled with the glasses contraption a bit to try to  make it workable but it never was totally clear.  so i’m thinking, well good.  i knew something was up and this guy can see that and i’ll leave here with a prescription that will actually work.  which is about the time he asks if i have ever been diagnosed with Keratoconus, and that he suspects i have it.  and that my left eye is shot to hell.
keratoconus is, apparently, a disease, hereditary, he said it seems more prevalent in males but the wiki says the opposite.  the wiki also says no one knows where it comes from and that it’s highly variable.  he said that going through the test the way we did and then putting that prescription on and it not working was symptomatic of keratoconus.  i also noticed as we were going through it that when i was looking at the letters i saw a sort of shadow or ghost image of the letters underneath where the actual letters were.  it was sort of a toss up whether i chose the lens that cut the shadow out or the one that made the letters clearer. i didn’t realize it at the time until going to the wiki, but that’s a major symptom.  i always thought that’s what it was like for everyone, but erin says it’s weird.  there’s a graphically reproduced simulation of what it looks like on the wiki, i’ve made my own to try to simulate how i see:

sometimes i see one ghost, sometimes two, sometimes — depending on how much i look at it — it’s like a mirror image, sometimes it’s blurry, but like normal astigmatism, i also get sort of double image stuff going on anyway.  and what i do see isn’t very clear.  so that’s fun.

he starts talking about “hard lenses”, you can get these hard lenses and most people will see 20/20 with them.  “what do you mean, hard lenses…like contacts?”  “yeah.”  i’m totally freaked out by contacts.  i’m totally freaked out by anything on my eyeball, in fact, i’m totally freaked out about eyeballs.  contacts has always been a deep seated fear i’ve harbored for a long time.  and him saying they may feel uncomfortable isn’t helping.  “this isn’t something that can be corrected by glasses at all?” i say, sounding stupid (and possibly desperate).  “no.”

he asks if i have allergies, and i said no, and he explained that he asks because sometimes people with allergies or construction workers who are outside all day will get it from rubbing their eyes a lot and really digging in when they do it and that that can damage the eye.  which i do, and have always done.  (so now, erin and i are freaking out about me rubbing my eyes at all)  so the end of the story is that a) my insurance only gave a $5 discount off the exam anyway, which, thankfully, was only 50 bucks, b) i’m to go get a “topography” of my eye done, get a printout, and take it to this lens crafters doc so he can look at it and then c) determine if i do hae Keratoconus and if so, recommend me to go to a specialist at the U. of Utah.  after i get new insurance, of course, which won’t be until after the new year.  he wanted to give me a prescription to just tide me over, but couldn’t make one that worked.  he also said that i was on the borderline of the legal driving limit, and recommended not driving at night.  yeah.  thanks.

so, yeah, that’s fun.  it didn’t surprise me cuz i knew something was up, but the fact that it was (of course) some crazy and horrible disease wasn’t so fab.  but he said my eyes were otherwise healthy, which, i guess is good, right?