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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Eyes Have It

Yesterday I made my way to the annual appointment at the Southport Eye Clinic. I say 'annual'... The last time I went for my Glaucoma check was 3 years ago! This was inadvertent on my part and possibly due to being a confused little old lady! Because I also suffer from type 2 diabetes and have regular visits to the Eye Clinic to check my eyes, it did not occur to me that the two conditions were checked upon quite separately. So when I received a notice of an appointment for the Glaucoma check I assumed the NHS had made a mistake and 'the left hand, didn't know what the right hand' was doing.

It didn't help that in July when I had the diabetes check I was told that although everything looked fine I would probably be invited to a follow-up check-up. I explained that she should make a note that I would be in France for the next 6 weeks and any appointment should be made after that. She made the appropriate notation ...

When I returned to England I had two notices from the Glaucoma Clinic. They look exactly like the notices for the Diabetes Clinic. The first was for an appointment at the end of August. The second was telling me that since I'd missed the appointment they were referring me back to my GP. I felt like a very naughty little old lady!

After a bit of two-ing and fro-ing my senile mind understood the complexities of the issue! Yesterday I attended the Glaucoma Clinic!

The first thing was an eye test -- administered by someone other than the doctor. I had great difficulty reading very far down the eye chart with my left eye. In fact when I took the eye test in the States last May I had the devil of a time and was greatly relieved that I managed to get through it. Last March I was so worried about my ability to read highway signs until on top of them that I went to my optometrist  and got new glasses. I was amazed during yesterday's exam when after having difficulty, the girl woman giving me the test added a 'thingy' with lots of little holes over the eye hole and suddenly all the letters were clear! Magic stuff. I wonder if I made something out of cardboard with little holes all over it and plunked it in front of the left lens of my specs ...

Anyway, after the doctor examined me, and checked the eye pressure and put two sets of drops in and I asked him why I was having so much trouble seeing clearly. He said it would be because of the cataract -- which I knew I had and which I have been assuming was the problem. I then  asked him a number of questions about when did they deem it appropriate to have them/it removed. He told me a good indication was when there were problems driving!

More discussion, more tests. At least I wasn't sent away to book another appointment to come back another day to do these tests. What was really strange to me was suddenly being confronted with the next stage. I had the impression that I was being referred back to my GP to discuss the options of where I wanted to have the surgery done. Private hospitals in various places were mentioned -- as well as different NHS hospitals (I think!!!). Or I could continue going to the Eye Clinic were I was and have the surgery done in Ormskirk (8 miles away). I made the decision to stick with where I was and am now in the NHS pipeline for whatever is next.

When I asked 'how long' he replied it would be in a few weeks. 'After Christmas'?, I suggested. He indicated it probably would be (I think!)

32 comments:

  1. Diabetes and glaucome and cataracts. You are fortunate your eyes haven’t packed in. We are very lucky that we can have all these tests free on the NHS, even though the system is a bit clunky at times.

    Keep on going for whatever appointments they make for you. My B. has had the sight in one eye saved by the eye clinic.

    I too have cataracts. Because I have only one good eye, - the other is a lazy eye - they won’t be doing any repairs until I can’t drive anymore.

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    1. Having had to deal with the problems of not having health insurance in the US, I fully appreciate how lucky the UK is to have the NHS. In this case, I do not have to worry about where the money is going to come from -- what a great burden not to have!

      My left eye is the lazy eye -- and it's reached the stage where I can't see well enough to drive. Fortunately, I do not drive in the UK so it's not an immediate issue. However, when I am in the US a car is imperative. I definitely can't read a license plate from 3 cars down...

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  2. Oh all this medical stuff is so tiring and boring but of course it is good that they ARE taking an interest. I hope you can soon get the treatment to enable you to see clearly again. I also wonder what the thing with little holes in it was!

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    1. I wonder what the thing with the holes was, too! It was astonishing...

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  3. What a palava - still, it's all going to be for the best, even if you need to wear a little thingy with holes in it for driving.

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    1. I wish I had a little thingy with holes in it now!

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  4. I have a cataract in my left eye, too. He told me last year that once he sees me this January, he'll be able to make a decision as to when I might need the surgery. He wanted to see how much it had progressed in a year. This getting old stuff is not for the faint of heart! :-)

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    1. It used to be 'they' waited until waiting no longer an option. According to the doctor yesterday the policy is not to wait so long, which sounds good to me. My father waited too long and when the cataract was removed it was so large the eye was damaged and the iris (part that opens and closes) so that it wouldn't close. For the rest of his life the eye gave him endless pain.

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  5. You're making me smile--all the old cataracts checking in. Mine, too. I remember that mother was thrilled when hers were removed. She saw colors again! The dr. says mine aren't ready yet, worse luck.

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    1. I think here they wait until you say you can't see well enough when driving. I can see colours -- but I can't focus on signs and subtitles.

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  6. Hope you get the problems sorted soon.

    I've just covered my eyes with my hands and peeped through my fingers at the computer screen. I could read the screen better even though the words looked smaller. I think it's all to do with how your eyes can accommodate better with a small aperture giving a more extensive depth of field.

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    1. It will be interesting to me how long it does take. We hear so much about long waiting lists so I was surprised when the doctor said 'a few weeks'.

      I love scientists -- they always try to figure out the 'why'!

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  7. What happens if you need to see a doctor while in France? Do they honor your British insurance?
    As we grow older, it seems that everything begins to break down.

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    1. I have an 'EU resident' card which can be presented to the doctor or hospital. The doctor's fee is a flat 20 euros (the last time I went -- it may be a little more now) He then gives me a form, which I take to the post office and I get most of it back. My understanding is that the French then present a bill to the country where the various 'residents' live for reimbursement.

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  8. Kathie, I bought a new pair of specs about a month ago. The previous (multi-focal) pair was over 5 years old and nolonger adapted to my 'aging' eyes. In fact, I used to take them off to read or to work on the computer. The new pair is pretty cool and adapted to my sight. It was expensive though - not the frame but the lenses. So make sure to get the right specs before buying (and paying them). Good luck! Martine

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    1. The price of lenses is astronomical! I too wear multi-focal specs. The cost was around 300 pounds, but included a second identical pair, which I have as sunglasses. I am suspecting that my eye sight problems are due to the cataract and not the spectacles...

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  9. I'm also a diabetic and I have my eyes checked annually. So far so good.

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  10. As a young nurse many yrs ago I remember taking care of many many many patients with glaucoma and cataracts....for the most part I remember them being pleased with the surgery too.
    goos luck!!

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    1. Thanks for the encouraging words, Annmarie. People I know who have had the surgery have also been pleased with the results.

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  11. Best of luck with you surgery!! I enjoy your blog!

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  12. Ah, the old pinhole occluder test. Of course I had to google it to see how the thing with the holes in it worked. :) They say it's rather like squinting.
    I think maybe it is better to just do the surgery and have it done with rather than waiting for the condition to worsen. My mother hated the idea of having the surgery but after it was done she said it was the thinking about it that was the worse part. Take care!

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    1. Pinhole occluder test! Thank you for that -- I'll be checking it out shortly! I agree with you -- I want to get it over and done with -- but hopefully 'after' Christmas!

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  13. Broad, you have just reminded me that I am overdue an eye test and must make an appointment. I too have cataracts, increasingly noticeable in one eye, but can still drive, thank goodness.

    As my last pair of glasses 6 years ago cost £400 for the lenses alone (I have very short sight and need complex lenses) I'm going to try to manage with them until I get the cataract surgery done, when I will need new ones anyway.

    Good luck with the surgery when it happens. I shall be interested to read our comments on it and the results.

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  14. Ohhhhh, Perpetua, I do hope I won't need more new specs! (At this rate I'll never ever get that dishwasher!!)

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  15. Since living in France we seem to have had more tests than we ever had in the UK. At least here you walk out with you x-rays and scans in your hand, and blood results arrive in the post the next day. I hope that your surgery goes well. Diane

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  16. Dear Broad, I trust that all will go well with the cataract operation. Back in November 2009, I had both eyes done--about three weeks apart. The drops can be tedious, but they are necessary and my eyes truly are fine now and driving is so much easier, especially at night. As to new glasses--that's because you can see better. But maybe your old ones will still serve and you can get that dishwasher! Peace.

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  17. Best wishes for a great outcome for your cataract surgery, Broad! I'm so very glad you have good health insurance/health care in the UK! Our lack of universal health care here in the U.S. is just pathetic!

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  18. What always surprises me is how 'brainwashed' so many Americans seem to be about the benefits of universal health care. The burden of always being worried about becoming ill is probably contributing to illness.

    Thanks for your best wishes, Kathy.

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Receiving comments is a joy and I thank you all for taking the trouble and showing your interest. Makes me feel all gooey and stuff!