A serene Black woman sits in an optometrist's chair with her eyes closed. Floating images of an eye, eye drops, and eye chart in front of her.

A Dose of Bad News – Finding a Silver Lining

At my last visit to my retinal specialist (as of my writing this) in September 2021, I was surprised to learn how much my vision had declined. My vision had declined in my left eye, the one I counted on to compensate for the right eye. I have a dark shadow in the center of the macula in the right eye caused by a large “fluffy” drusen.

I have dry macular degeneration in addition to chronic dry eye. I expected my doctor to tell me the OCT scan indicated a worsening in the dry macular degeneration. Instead, he said I had no change at all in the scan. His best guess was my vision had declined due to the chronic dry eye condition. He reassured me that I was still legal to drive in spite of the vision decline.

Fast forward to 2022’s bad news

After that visit to my retinal specialist, I dreaded my annual exam with the optometrist. On January 3, I had that eye exam. I was hoping that I would leave with a new prescription to sharpen up my vision and pick out some cute new frames.

I was shocked to learn my vision had declined even more. My vision was now 20/60 in the left eye and 20/70 in the right. My optometrist told me that I could no longer drive at night. I had already limited my nighttime driving, but the news was still hard to hear. Even worse was hearing that no adjustments could be made to my prescription to improve my vision.

Finding a silver lining

To my surprise, my doctor didn’t send me on my way. I was delighted to find out my optometrist had prior experience in a low vision clinic. He proceeded to spend an hour offering treatment options for the CDE and information about various low vision aids.

My doctor told me that my clogged meibomian glands might be helped by intense pulsed light (heat), along with manual light pressure on the eyes. This helps to improve the flow of the oily (lipid) layer of tears from the meibomian gland. Unfortunately for me, the nearest clinic that offered the treatment is 2 1/2 hours away. For now, I am going to have manual expression of the glands performed by my optometrist.

Other recommendations

We also talked about the use of the microwavable eye mask. He suggested using it more often followed by massage of my eye lids.

I had been cleaning my eyelids with baby shampoo. He suggested I use tea tree oil eye wipes instead.

We talked about how using the iPad affected my vision. I will be getting glasses specially to be used with my iPad and iPhone.

Lastly, the doctor recommended I purchase the 2.1X Eschenbach Max TV Glasses to make tv viewing enjoyable again. At $189.00, they are far less than a new and bigger television.

A caring optometrist

I will admit I am bummed out by knowing I cannot drive at night. I realize if my vision continues to decline, I may be forced to stop driving altogether.

For now, I am going to focus on how thankful I am to have a caring and knowledgeable optometrist to provide my CDE care.

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