The doctor performing my annual eye exam this year saw something in my right eye. A thin film or membrane, a ripple in the retina at the macular region. My eyesight checks out fine, corrected to 20/20, but she worried about it and felt it should be looked at more closely by an opthalmologist.
The new machines available for eye examination are truly remarkable. I went to Kaiser as they have all the machines including the deep retina tissue scanner that was recommended. I normally don’t like going to Kaiser very much, they’ve not been particularly effective at curing ills although they’re always ready to treat patients with some new drug or another. But for this kind of examination procedure, they’ve got the right bits.
A jovial male nurse led me to this room, subdued the lighting, and put the relaxant into my eyes. It takes 20 minutes or so to do its job. I couldn’t help but pull out the X2 and shoot a few pictures of the space and the equipment in the dim light. There was an eerie quiet heaviness to it that appealed to me, I wondered if the camera could catch it.
The retinal scanner was run by an Asian technician. “This is an expensive machine,” she said, “The other one in the next room needs to be serviced and that alone is going to cost $25,000! It’s a good machine, though: I took the training and was certified, it’s easy to operate.” The machine scans not only the 2D in plan view but allows looking at the layers of tissue as well. It takes about 90 seconds to do the job.
Back in the subdued lighting of the first room, the opthalmologist entered. She was a personable and pretty woman in her early thirties. “Here’s the tissue in your left eye, which is very healthy and normal.” All the layers of membranes, these infinitesimally small things a few cells thick, were laminated evenly in the macular region. “And here’s the problem your optician saw that we wanted to check on..” The image of the right eye macular region is mostly the same as the left, but in the center there is a depression of the bottom most layer and a slight widening of the gap between the layers; it’s lost the smoothness of the left eye’s appearance.
“This is very light degradation,” she said. “It’s just age related deterioration. Your vision is still easily correctible to 20/20 so there’s nothing to worry about, and likely won’t be for a long time, but we’ll keep an eye on it.”
“How long?” I asked, after we joked around about my becoming-old age and she in her thirties. She had a good sense of humor… “Oh, so you mean that when it actually becomes time to do something about it, I’ll likely be 90 years old and so decrepit anyway that it’s hardly worth doing anything then anyway?”
With a twinkle in her bright eyes, she said, “Uh, yeah, that sounds about right. If you’re that kind of cynic …” And she laughed.
I laughed too. “I can deal with that. Thanks. Maybe some medical miracle will fix it then anyway, you know?” And we both laughed. I thanked her and left to go back to work.
I can wait. I’ll see what happens. Life is good: enjoy it while you can.
– Godfrey, October 2012