Saturday, 2 May 2009

Visits to Eye Casualty

My first visit to Eye Casualty was a long day. Eye Casualty like any Casualty unit operates a triage system. If you aren't in danger of losing your sight or in any pain then you are not high priority. I sat around in a hot waiting room trying (and mostly failing) with my impaired vision to read a book. I was eventually given drops in my eyes to enlarge my pupils and told to go away and wait whilst they worked. I wandered round the nearby town looking for lunch and increasingly unable to see what I was doing!

The final examination was rather like an extended trip to the optician. There was a great deal of shining bright lights into my eyes, and using various tools to get a better look. There were also 'field vision tests' where you look straight ahead into a large machine and tiny pinpricks of light appear just about everywhere you can see. Each time you see a pin prick you press a button. I fairly spectacularly failed that test! Another test you do is like the colour blindness tests I remember from early childhood. You look at pages with coloured dots and have to find the numeral picked ou amongst the dots (in constrasting shades such as red and green). I spectacularly failed that test too! The culmination of the examination confirmed the doctor's tentative diagnosis. Optic Neuritis.

This was the first of three visits to eye casualty. The next time was about a year later, and had followed several minor bouts of ON which I hadn't sought any medical opinion on. This time I pointed out to the Consultant that this was about the third time in a year, and asked what could be causing it. Probably 'just one of those things' I was told; but sent for a chest xray (?!) to rule out some possible diagnosis that I can't even remember.

Several years passed without any real problem, until 2001 brought another severe bought of ON. I was referred back to the Eye Casualty by a new doctor (having moved house several times during the intervening years). With the expected diagnosis of ON I refused to accept that it was 'just one of those things'. I pointed out that having ON haf a dozen times in three years wasn't normal - and eventually I was given a referral to see a neurologist at my local hospital.

Next - The Neuro and the MRI

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