Ocular Hypertension

I have been dealing with some writer's block lately. I've dealt with this from time to time in my amateur writing career, so I know it's just a matter of time before I'm back at it. Unfortunately, this week I've been dealing with something much more permanent: Ocular Hypertension.

On Wednesday, I decided to go get a new eyeglass prescription. I only use them occasionally for reading, which I do a lot of for work and seminary, and since I had worn out my old pair (four years old), I needed a new pair. This was the providence of God.

The process went fine for about five minutes. They verified that I still needed the prescription and set me up to get some glasses. Then they did the puff test for glaucoma. I failed that test in my right eye. They ran the test again. I failed the test again in my right eye. Then they ran the test a third time. The corpsman (HM1) said, "FC1, I need to send you to the doctor right now. Have a seat outside."

Lt. Le, the doctor, did a series of tests and wasn't happy. While my nerve endings looked ok, she was not happy with the pressures, hovering right around 30 in my right eye. They should be from 16-20. Her comment was, "It's not that they are just slightly high...they are significantly high. That's not good."

So she told me to come back in two days to measure the pressure again, thinking there may have been an external reason for this fluke. I came back on Friday and found out that yes, my pressures are too high. That was at 7:30am. Then Lt. Le told me to come back again at 11:30. So after offering the invocation and benediction at a retirement ceremony (I'll write about that later), I went back to her and she again verified that my pressures were too high.

The problem is that "elevated intraocular pressure is a concern in people with ocular hypertension because it is one of the main risk factors for glaucoma." Yes, she said glaucoma. The good news is that my nerve endings were looking ok, at least to her equipment at the Naval Base in San Diego.

Lt. Le asked me to go to Balboa Naval Hospital yesterday afternoon so that she could have some more tests on some more advanced equipment run for me. Alicia (what would I do without her?) came up to the hospital because they would have to dilate my eyes to run the tests. I had driven a few days ago in this condition and it wasn't fun, so she didn't want me to go through that again. I am grateful for my wife...so amazing.

So the short and long of it is that right now, my doctor doesn't think I have glaucoma...yet. However, she can't know that for sure because right now I have a risk factor for it, and it's been over four years since I had an exam. The treatment for ocular hypertension is a drop in each eye (because the left eye was borderline in her tests) for 28 days. At that time, she will have me back into her office for a reevaluation. If the drops work, then I'll be on drops forever to keep the pressures down. If they don't work, she will adjust the dosage until it does work and then I'll be on them forever. Finally, if the drops fail to work period, then I will need laser surgery on my eyes' drainage systems to open them up to relieve the pressure. This is all to stave off the inevidible...that I will have reduced vision at some point in my life if we can't get my pressures to stay down where they should be.

On one hand, I don't think this is a big deal. I don't have glaucoma, so I should feel grateful, and I am. Still, I will be dealing with regular checkups and treatments for what I assume is the significant foreseeable future. I think I'm handling it well, but we'll see. I could use some prayer, however, as I am very fearful about anything to do with my eyes. I don't even like watching Alicia put her contacts in, much less anyone doing anything to my eyes! After two days of probing on my eyes, and now eye drops for the rest of my life, I've got to get over this fear.

If anyone knows anything about ocular hypertension, please let me know your thoughts! Oh, and the picture above shows that my nerve is almost perfect, so no damage has been done yet. I'm so thankful!


Tony Farson said...

My mother-in-law and my own mother had/have OHT. In my mothers case she had Glaucoma. I have worked in eye clinics and assisted in the treatment of patients with these problems. It isn't fun for them and the drops are a total pain. In the since of living a normal life, the laser surgery sounds better. No drops = easier to deal with it. But going under the laser / knife is always scary, but it is worse when thinking about your eyes.

I guess that is pretty useless info, but OHT and even Glaucoma is not the end of the world. With proper treatment it is manageable, and you won't go blind ever night, and some people live well into their 80's with manageable eyesight. So my best advise is to be religious about the drops, and follow the docs instructions to the letter. She will lead you into the right treatment plan and get you taken care of.

The Navy Christian said...

My doc is amazing. I will have pretty much no choice but to listen to her. She said she's a little micromanaging about the care of her patients! Anyway, today is the first day of treatment, and aside from some aching eyes (probably from all of the tests) and some sunlight issues, I'm good to go. Thanks for the help!


Rev. Mike said...

Praying for you Dan. Hang in there.


The Navy Christian said...

I appreciate your thoughts. It really is nice to know that so many people care. Thank you!


Jedi Master Yoon said...

Dan I've been diagnosed with Glaucoma since I joined the Navy, the eyedrop things suck, after 11 years of drops i still have a hard time with putting the drops into my eyes. I do have optical nerve damage but no worries as we talked about it before you'll be fine. I'm way fargone and still don't need surgery yet try not to be troubled about this too much. haha first time writing on a blog!! May the Force be with You.

The Navy Christian said...

Tony, thank you so much for your comments, and may the force be with you as well!