Ken clay eyepatch

Some of my readers may recall that I had an eye operation in 2013 to take care of a serious condition that had occured in my left eye – an ocular melanoma had developed from a “freckle” on my retina, which my optometrist had noticed during an eye exam.

Recently, a theatre acquaintance contacted me to see how I had been effected long-term by the circumstance, as she had just gone through the procedure with the same doctor I had used. I directed her to my original post about the operation, at this link: https://asota.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/eye-surgery-did-that/ as well as my one year follow up: https://asota.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/eye-surgery-the-journey-continues/ .

She said these links helped her a great deal to understand what I have been going through, but she still had questions, since I had not touched on the matter in the blog since writing about it in 2014. Lots has happened since then.

The original piece I wrote on 2013 is viewed by one or more people nearly every day. (As of today it has been read over 1500 times and last month saw the most reads EVER with 86 views). Someone Googles “ocular melanoma” and finds the listing for the entry. So in order to promote better understanding about what to expect with this surgery, I thought I would do another update.

It took about two years from the time of the surgery for my left eye to be what I would call “useless”. That is to say, I could not use it to distinguish much else but light. There was a small area at the top of my periphery where I could make out how many fingers a person held up, but that did not constitute functionality. This loss was not a surprise, as Dr. Minturn, my surgeon, had said that that was what I could expect to have happen.

In truth, the doctor had administered several injections in my eye during 6 or 7 of my quad-annual visits to delay rapid sight-loss and he seemed pleased with the results.

About injections into an eye: this is not nearly as awful as you might expect. The eye surface is deadened and the shot itself results in the tiniest pinch. It is worse to think about than it is to endure.

By the third year, the loss of sight had furthered but it had little change in my everyday vision – the biggest loss being my peripheral vision on my left side. I still drive, with the help of “blind-spot” aiding mirrors. The biggest problem that occurs is that when walking in a crowd, I will sometimes bump into people, if I do not remember to scan left as I move along. No one has been injured in these mishaps, but a lot of apologies have occurred.

I had given some thought to wearing an eye patch and getting a contact lens for my right eye, but Dr. Minturn shot that down pointing out how glasses afforded some valuable shielding for my one good eye. I chose to go with his recommendation.

If anything, I can enjoy my monocular sight better now that my left eye has lost all sharp imaging. (What I do see with that bad eye now, I liken to looking up at the overcast sky and noting the glow of the sunlight and of the sun itself. That cloudy and indistinct presence of light matches what I see.) Before the loss, I had had trouble reading or watching television because my bad eye had added its blurry image to the mix of signals that my brain was trying to comprehend. Much of the time my brain could filter that blurry stuff out, but if my eyes got tired, it would be less choosey and add the blur in. I would try to overcome that distraction by covering that eye or winking out the fuzzy image. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. Now if my left eye adds data to my vision, all it adds is a fogginess.

Presently, I have learned to accommodate the loss of one side of vision without much trouble. I barely think about it. I still see Dr. Minturn every 6 months, and I have to get annual x-rays and scans to ensure that cancer cells have not spread to other organs, particularly my liver. But for the most part, being “half-blind” causes little distress and no discomfort.

If you have had this procedure or condition, I suggest you follow your doctor’s orders and proceed through the steps of loss and recovery with his or her guidance.

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