When I went to see an optometrist last November, I did so expecting to be told that my eyes had deteriorated slightly, as would be expected with age. (The fact that my last eye exam was six years prior made this expectation even greater.) And in fact, I was told that they had deteriorated. Slightly. Ever so slightly. In fact, a lot more “slightly” than would be expected over the course of six years for a woman of [cough, cough] my age.
Of course, given my age, they also decided it was time to run some other tests. Which is fine; I’m generally pretty good at tests! Only after having done the field vision test, I was asked to do it again. Apparently, I hadn’t quite passed on the first go. But I didn’t pass on the second go, either, so I was asked to come back in a couple of days to re-sit the test again. And, again, I didn’t pass. (Surely, there must be something wrong with the machine!)
It was then that the optometrist started using the word “glaucoma” – a word I most certainly did not want to hear! But as my hearing is (arguably) normal, the word was unmistakable and I was referred to The Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh so that a specialist could confirm a diagnosis.
When I arrived, I was taken to the first exam room where it was explained that there would be 4 stages to the day’s testing followed by a final chat with the specialist. They were basically going to check out everything so that a solid diagnosis could be made.
The first two stages were tests run by non-specialists. Tests included another field vision test (which I failed; again), a pressure test, and various reading tests. The third stage was my first meeting with the specialist. He sat me down and explained the field vision test results and discussed how my impaired peripheral vision was a strong indicator for glaucoma. He seemed quite sure that would be the diagnosis and talked a bit about early interventions and treatments to slow the progression of an eye condition that might one day lead to blindness.
Then the doctor began running a battery of tests. And once he started to look deep into my eyes (with a machine; not with the romantic overtones of a Harlequin novel) he stopped and said “Ah!” Then he started to look deep into my eyes again. First left, then right, then left and right again.
By this time, I was a bit more worried than I had been before. Maybe it’s worse than glaucoma. That would not be awesome!
Instead, the doctor said it appeared that my optic discs were tilted. 100 percent in my left eye; 80 percent in my right eye. And, apparently, that’s a good thing. Well, it’s not as bad as glaucoma anyhow.
So I’m sent back to the waiting room for my last round of testing – photographs, this time. And as I’m waiting, the doctor comes back to explain a bit more about the tilted discs, explaining that it would be confirmed with the images and that I want it to be that, not glaucoma!
After my eye pictures are completed, I met with the doctor again. He was very happy to explain to me that he is almost certain that I do not have glaucoma and that, instead, I have something that is often mistaken as glaucoma: tilted optic discs. The doctor was very excited about this and showed me several case images that confirmed the diagnosis. He is convinced that I have a textbook case of tilted optic discs! And so, that is the diagnosis he sent me away with. (Yay!)
Apparently, this is something I was born with. It won’t get better, but it won’t get worse. The doctor explained that it would be like being born with a crooked nose. Only at least with a crooked nose, you can have a bit of rhinoplasty to fix it!
Still, I have this thing with my eyes. It is non-fixable. It will never get better. But it won’t get worse, either! Of course, I’ve managed to make it to the ripe, young age of 43 without ever noticing a problem, so I don’t really care.
Seemingly, it impacts some of my peripheral vision. But not that much. And not a noticeable amount. And, as I said, I’ve made it this far in life without it being a problem so I’m not really fussed.
And if you think about it, I manage quite well with diminished peripheral vision. I mean, I can spot a dingy penny laying in a gutter 10 feet away from me. How many people can say that about themselves? Although maybe if I didn’t have tilted optic discs, I would find even more money every year! (So maybe this is a problem…?)
Although this isn’t necessarily the end of my story. Whilst the doctor is very happy to diagnose me with tilted optic discs, he wants me to return in six months to test everything again. He says that if I do have early stages of glaucoma, it will worsen over time meaning that in six months my field vision tests should be even worse. So, here’s hoping I fail the next round of testing at the same rate as I have before!