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!