Thursday, January 31, 2008

Eye Confess

The past two months I've been having problems seeing out of my right eye. What seemed to be a bad case of pink eye (singular) in early December eventually led me to make a desperate visit to a random optometrist on New Year's Eve searching for relief. He -- who like myself is not a medical doctor -- agreed that it was conjunctivitis and gave me some anti-inflammatory (steroid) drops to calm the eye down. Nearly a month later and with my eye still not better (hey, I really can do this blog with one eye closed!) I finally saw an ophthalmologist yesterday afternoon and the news was very alarming. Although she could not make a definitive diagnosis because the drops I've been using are masking the underlying problem, there is an infection in my cornea that in a best-case scenario is of a bacterial nature, and in a worst-case (which she feels is more likely) a viral one. Although I just met the woman, she seemed to me to be very alarmed by what she saw and said so in as many words. As a precaution she is having me use drops to treat either type of infection (she assured me there is no risk of injury by using drops for something I potentially do not even have) until she can have a new look post-steroids on Monday. The treatment requires one drop three times a day for the one -- and one drop every three hours for the other (you are allowed eight hours off for sleep, however). Depending on how things go she did tell me there was the potential for vision loss (apparently your cornea is kind of important for seeing) and I made the mistake of looking the topic up on the Internet and saw nothing but horror stories of how the viral-infection drugs are not very effective -- and the impending cornea transplant I will need (it wasn't a fun night at work). What concerns me the most is that I've actually had problems in my right eye FOR YEARS and kept seeing my regular optometrist who insisted nothing was wrong. He kept giving me allergy drops and about four years ago I had to give up my beloved contact lenses because the right eye had completely rejected them, although no one could ever explain why -- or why in just one eye. I'm scared that I've let some god-awful virus eat away at my cornea for years, which makes me so angry at myself because I'm the first person to remind people that optometrists are not real doctors. (Are eye patches in style?)

The upside of it all is my eye is already working a lot better and I feel good knowing that I'm finally -- after two months of my eye working on and off, being blurry then not blurry, using drops and then not using them -- doing something about the problem. Eye'll keep you posted. (OK, even with one working eye I know that was bad, but come on!)

FOOTNOTE: Larry was diagnosed with "eye herpes" earlier this month (too?) but the vet insists there's no way he could have passed it on to me. Mmm.


Bjørn Larssen said...

Hi Kenneth,

I've had a viral cornea infection. I found out about it when a day before I flew abroad for a week's long trip my eye started itching and just wouldn't and my ex practically forced me to go to an ophtalmologist. The doctor didn't like what she saw and said that actually she'd rather have me stay home and visit her every 2-3 days, but since that wasn't a possibility, I had to immediately give up lenses, use drops every 3 hours and -- this was the horror part -- use EYE CREAM. Aaagh! The cream made my vision blurry and felt, well, let's not go there.

Well, a week later I came back from my trip, visited the doctor and she couldn't decide which eye it was that gave me problems because the infection was treated 100% successfully. Two weeks later I returned to lenses.

This is one positive story to counter all the horror ones you've read :)

Anonymous said...

Kenneth, Oh jeez, sorry to hear about your eye problem. I had corneal infiltrates this summer which scared the crap out of me. I saw a Dr. Geula at 3rd Ave at 44 th St. I felt I was in good hands and he also consulted with some colleagues on my problem. He cleared up my infiltrates with drops and got me back into new contact lenses. It was an expensive adventure (>$1000) all told but then you only have two eyes and they have to last a long time. Good luck. -Jim

Anonymous said...

KW...that really hit me in the gut this morning. Take care of yourself and keep us up to date on what is happening. Makes you wonder what really has been going on.

Anonymous said...

Kenneth, I am so sorry about your medical troubles! Although I think you're right to be concerned, it does sound like you're in great medical hands now. We're sending you good vibes from over in our corner of the blogosphere! :-)

Anonymous said...

It's a good sign that your eye already feels better. I hope the drops kick whatever's in there in the butt!!!

Anonymous said...

If worse came to worse, corneal implants are no big deal anymore. They take out the damaged cornea and slip in a plastic lens. No stitches or anything nowadays. I've had two implants for twenty years, no problems. The drawback: natural eyes change focus for near and far; the implants are set. You need glasses for the distance they aren't designed for.

But listen to Oliviera. And go to ophtamologists.

j-gun said...

i had an ulcer on my eye once... had to put drops in my eye every HOUR that i was awake. seriously, every hour!

but about a weak later, i went back for a check-up and it was gone.

i can't even remember what eye it was and my new eye doc can't even tell which one it is.

don't read medical shit on the net. webmd is the devil!

Anonymous said...

I don't know why people go to optometrist's .... most ophtalmologist's do regular eye exams, etc and they are little/no more expensive than an optometrist. I haven't been to an optometrist since I was like 5 years old or something .... and that was a LONG time ago!

Anonymous said...

Hi there Kenneth,
Go to an ophtalmologist as an opthometrist doesn't know these kind of stuffs and if you asked any ophtalmologists, even majority of them don't wear any contact lenses or do that LASIK eye surgery.
I hate my glasses but I didn't dare to touch parts of my eyes especially even the ophtalmologists themselves wear glasses and doesn't gave any comment if you want to wear contacts or vice versa(that would be ophtometrists' area)

Anonymous said...


I am sorry to hear about the trouble that you have been having with your eye and hope that you are getting the proper treatment for your condition. I am an optometrist and am a bit offended by your generalizations about the profession. I am a doctor of optometry and can treat eye disease, prescribe medications, and fit you in glasses and contact lenses.

It is true that I do not hold an MD degree. As an optometrist I hold an OD degree which is awarded after four years of undergraduate work and then four years of optometry school. I am highly qualified to treat your condition. It sounds like you were mis-diagnosed by your optometrist, but that doesn't mean that you would by every optometrist. Further, it sounds like your ophthalmologist doesn't know for sure what they are dealing with if he hasn't given you a diagnoses. Sounds like herpetic keratitis to me and if that is the case, you should be on an antiviral like viroptic 1 drop 9 times a day. Generally you don't use a steroid for a herpetic infection as it makes it worse, but there are times when it is appropriate. If you are taking vigamox, an antibiotic, it isn't going to do much for you. An antibiotic doesnt treat a virus.

Your doctor should be able to tell the difference between a viral and a bacterial infection.

Anyway, the point is optometrist are hard working, well educated and perfectly capable of managing corneal infections. Of course I can't make an official diagnosis either without looking at you and getting a more detailed history. of your commenters mentioned 'corneal transplants' as being no big deal. that person is confusing a corneal transplants with cataract surgery. 2 totally different things.

Anonymous said...

I'm Sorry to hear about that, Kenneth. I'm glad you've got an accurate diagnosis now. You're a healthy looking lad--I'm sure you'll shake it.

Anonymous said...

Kenneth, last time I saw you, I thought you were winking at me. A lot. I'm relieved to know it was just some deadly flesh-eating eye germs, instead of attempted infidelity, for which God will make you burn in hell for infinity -- a far worse fate. At least now you're getting some real medical help, instead of the free ghetto doc at Clinica de la Raza. Keep us posted, and godspeed. (But if it is terminal, does that mean there's an open 1-BR in Chelsea? Let me know.)

James Greenlee said...


I had almost exactly the same experience a few years ago, also on New Year's. I went to three different doctors, got at least four different bottles of drops. I also had one doctor who was overly alarmed. After the fourth try, it cleared up mostly, but still lingered for a while. It's years later and I'm fine.

My experience with doctors seems to be that I pay them a lot of money, they give me medicine that doesn't work, and eventually everything pretty much clears up on its own!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to have confused corneal transplants with cataract surgery. The lens implants replace natural lenses that have clouded up, leaving the cornea intact. If the cornea is infected, whole different problem, as your optometrist said. Google first, write after.

Still, I didn't know that optometrists practiced medicine. I like the approach of the ophthalmologists, who specialize in eyes but have further training in medicine. (Note to anonymous: I know that finding a physician or therapist on one's wavelength is difficult, and often is separate from their paper qualifications.)