Emily (foresthouse) wrote,
Emily
foresthouse

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Keratoconus Update the Eleventh: The Way I See Things / Small Miracles

So I was talking to cleolinda today, and in the middle of discussing completely unrelated things, I interrupted the conversation (yeah, we do that a lot) to tell her (because I had been idly looking at things through one eye and then the other, as you do sometimes (especially if you're me and have eyes that vary so much in quality of vision)) that I could now see three of the four sides of the picture frame on my wall, and about the other recent changes in my vision which may seem small individually, but when added up, are just a complete miracle to me. And she said, "I think you should write about that." And you know? I think I should. Because I know a lot of you have been following (and contributing to!!!) my surgery (and I am so grateful!), and while these changes are all little things, and maybe a bit hard to get across in text, they're so very, very important to me and to how much the surgery is changing my daily life.

Here's an example: I have a black-and-white photo on my wall, about 8 feet from my bed, that has a man leaning on a railing, with a criss-cross of window braces behind him. Several months ago, and for about 4-6 years prior to my surgery, I would not have been able to see the criss-cross pattern when looking through my uncorrected right eye. The reason for this is that the blocks of color making up those black lines on the white background were too thin to stand out from the rest of the scene (despite being about 1/4 of an inch thick). Now, however, I can see faint lines. Sure, they're still very blurry, and not as thick as they appear with perfect vision; but I can see them. Imagine that. Now imagine it incrementally applied to everything you see - for instance, the leaves of a spider-plant against a white wall. Before, I would be able to see that the thicker ones were there; now, though still blurred, I can count them all, even the thin ones. Accurately. I'm seeing things that, to me, for the last several years, weren't there at all. Like they were literally invisible to my uncorrected right eye. It's freaking amazing, for real.

Here's another example, both of how things have changed and how badly the keratoconus still affects my vision (because it's one thing to say my vision was 20/400 and now it's 20/70, woo!, but numbers are really just numbers and don't always portray how bad, or good, things are). The picture frame mentioned in the first paragraph is for another, larger picture on the wall. It's a charcoal drawing in a black frame over one inch thick. Before the surgery, I could barely see the frame. Now? I can see that three of the four sides of the frame are there. Sure, the fourth side is still not visible (it looks, instead, like the grey of the charcoal just blurs fuzzily into the white of my wall) but still. SO MUCH BETTER.

Also in my room, about 10 feet from my bed is a mirror. If I look into it while sitting on the bed, I can see myself and the picture window behind me, which has Venetian blinds. Before the surgery: I could not see the blinds when they were open, because the line of color-contrast was too thin for my eyes to pick up. Now? I can see the lines! Again, faint, and blurred - but they are there. In the same vein, but to highlight both the improvement and how bad my vision, sadly, still is; from that distance, looking at my own face with my right eye, before the surgery (and this is going to sound creepy, but I've been living with it for so long that seriously I didn't even think of it until telling someone else) I would not see a face at all. Have you ever seen that part in Avatar, the Last Airbender where he goes to visit Koh, the Face Stealer? And there's a monkey sitting outside the cave, and Aang is all, "Hi there, little guy," and then the monkey turns around and HE HAS NO FACE? Just a blank spot where the face would be? It's seriously creepy, right? Well with my right eye, that's pretty much what I'd see from 10 feet away when looking at another person. A blur that's clearly someone's head (albeit all blurry and inaccurately shaped), but that's it. Now, at the very least - I can see where a person's eyes and mouth are, because of the differences in shade (eyes are recessed, mouth is open, etc.). Maybe not a huge improvement when you consider there's still no real face. But a huge difference to me.

This difference also comes across with my new glasses lens. While my vision is still so bad that it can't be corrected even close to 100% with glasses (it's not just the number prescription with keratoconus, you see, but also the steep shape of the cornea that makes it impossible to correct with glasses after a certain point), now they can at least correct to the point where, looking through my right lens, I can see sharp lines. Sure, those sharp lines are still surrounded by blur - but at least they're there. Before, it was all just blur. So, for example, as I type this, a little over a foot from my screen, with my right eye I can *just* about make out the letters I'm typing, if I really try. They're still blurry, but there's at least enough line there to pick out the shape of the letter amidst the blur. Before the surgery? Just a black blob that could be identified as a paragraph - and that's with glasses on.

This improvement means, among other things, that after years of not being able to achieve perfectly normal vision even with hard contacts (which can correct more that glasses or soft contacts for keratoconus due to providing a fake proper "shape" for the cornea, with the gaps between the actual cornea and the contact then being filled in by the liquid in the eye), I may finally be able to see 100% again with contacts in. You see, before, even when my vision was good enough to see pretty close to 20/20, pass driving tests, etc. with my hard contacts in, it had not been 100% for at least the last 3 years - there's been a slight blur and/or light feedback on everything, at the very least, which not only is frustrating when trying to, say, read a sign from afar, but also results in headaches and eyestrain (and it would get even worse when I was tired). And that's what my eyes were like WITH contacts. But now, once my eyes are healed enough to try contacts again, there's a good chance I may see an improvement in this condition - because the surgery has somewhat lessened the steepness in the cornea that causes these problems!

You guys: I can't even quantify how much, but I am just SO EXCITED. Both by this prospect, and by all the little changes I have seen so far. And I just really wanted to share that with you.

xo
Tags: friends, happiness, health, keratoconus, serious things
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