“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.” – Matthew 6:22
Since early secondary school, I have been impressed by the sonnet “On His Blindness” by English poet John Milton, who lost his sight while he was still in his 50s.
The sonnet began, “When I consider how my light was spent, ere half my days in this dark world and wide …” and ended “They also serve who only stand and wait.” Even though the sonnet promised that the loss of eyesight was not the end of the world, I was determined then to take care of my sight by practising preventive eye care.
When I was in my teens and early adulthood, I suffered from a stye condition which is caused by an infection of oil glands in the eyelid. I had treatment for this condition in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and the United Kingdom, which ranged from the application of a prescribed ointment to incision and curettage of the eyelid to clean the contents. Later in life this condition disappeared.
Like many others, at approximately age 40, I was diagnosed with age-related farsightedness by the eye doctor, which was followed by wearing glasses with annual visits to continually monitor the situation. I took on a new persona, spectacled with photochromatic lenses.
Barbadian Dr. Clive Gibbons was my Barbadian ophthalmologist for decades. My annual visits morphed into biannual visits as I got older. He advised on prescription lens changes, ordered and analyzed visual field tests, monitored my eye pressures and glaucoma condition, prescribed Xalatan eye drops, advised me on the state of my cataract condition. No retinal conditions were diagnosed and as far as I was concerned my eyesight was serving me well.
Three years ago, Dr. Gibbons, who had retired from his surgical practice, recommended that it was time for cataract surgery. I chose Barbadian Dr. Don-Eyre Beckles, ophthalmologist surgeon from many options to do the job. Both eyes were operated on at the same sitting; I was in and out of surgery in 30 minutes; two brand new short focal length lenses were implanted; 20-20 vision appeared in short shrift; and my insurance policy kicked in to cover the expenses.
Mobile phone, computer, television and daytime driving vision were all good. What more could I want as I approached the start of my ninth decade on Earth?
Lo and behold, a year ago, I woke up one morning in Trinidad and, as is my wont, I went to my computer to start action for the day only to find that the vision in my right eye was suddenly impaired. I tried blinking to clear the vision but to no avail. The left eye, thank God, was unaffected.
Immediately, I called my Trinidadian General Physician, Dr. Nicola Alcala, in search of a local ophthalmologist. That afternoon I was examined by ophthalmologist Dr. Debra Bartholomew of the Trinidad Eye Hospital (TEH) and was diagnosed with Retinal Pigment Epithelial Dystrophy (RPED).
Before the end of that appointment, the first Avastin injection was administered to be followed by monthly injections to correct the problem of haemorrhaging at the base of the retina followed by appropriately spaced Optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans to monitor progress. I had a second and third international opinion on the treatment prescribed and both sources agreed on the recommended TEH course of action.
Two weeks ago, one year later, Trinidadian Dr. Ronnie Bhola, respected Caribbean retinal specialist and Chairman of TEH, expressed satisfaction over the efficacy of the Avastin treatment (every 4-5weeks) and recommended continuation until the healing process has been completed.
In the middle of all this retinal drama while on a visit to Barbados, Dr. Beckles clinically administered laser treatment to both eyes to complete the surgical process with a pleasing effect.
I am grateful to the superb medical talent within the region as well as my extra-regional counsel. But moreover I am thankful to our Heavenly Father, from whom all blessings flow.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is a Change-Engine Consultant. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns may be found at www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com)