Every year, when we were kids, my father used to put my sister and I through the holy trinity of medical check-ups: dental, optical, and general health. Of the three, our local ophthalmologist was the only one I actually looked forward to visiting. There was no pinching, no prodding, no poking – just some reading, visual puzzles, and always a hearty and much-appreciated congratulations on my 20/20 vision. And that’s something I’ve always been proud of. While many a friend and co-worker has struggled with contacts or corrective surgery, I’ve never had cause to complain. I’ve always had perfect vision.
Until last year when I noticed I was having trouble reading at night. I chalked it up to the heavy stress I’d placed on my eyes since the move to Toronto – endless hours spent on my laptop, reading and re-reading scripts and notes. But, just to be on the safe side, I made an appointment to have my vision checked. Boy, eye exams have come a long way since I was a kid. Sure, there were the old standbys like the miniscule line reading and the progressively improving/deteriorating lens symbols (“Better or worse? How about now? And now?”), but some new tests had been added to the line-up since my last visit (Oh, twenty years ago), tests involving wonky glasses, bright lights, air puffs and eye drops. The results? I needed reading glasses. I received my prescription, picked out a fashionable pair and equally fashionable eyeglass case, then brought them back home where they sat in a drawer for five months until I finally took them out – and packed them in a box and shipped them to Vancouver where they’ve been sitting in a drawer since this morning when I brought them along for today’s visit to a Vancouver ophthalmologist.
I put on the wonky glasses, had puffs of air blown into my eyes, read tiny letters aloud, stared into a light, commented on the progressively improving/deteriorating visual quality of certain symbols, and got stinging eye drops. The results? Yep, still need those reading glasses. Also, it would seem that I have tortuous blood vessels in my eyes. Huh? The blood vessels in the back of my eyes are all squiggly. Oh.
So what the hell does that mean? Well, 82% of tortuous (squiggly) blood vessels are the result of genetic influence. Nothing to worry about. As for the other 18% , well, it’s a mixed bag of possible causes: elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a central retinal vein occlusion. Oh, also something to do with arterial blockages in my neck. Y’know, come to think of it, the Toronto ophthalmologist mentioned the same thing last year but hadn’t seemed all that worried considering I’d just aced my annual physical the previous month. Of course, my blood pressure had plenty of occasion to rise during those intervening four weeks.
Anyway, just in case, I’ll be following up with my GP. Friday, April 20th, I’ll be pinched, prodded, and poked – and, I’m sure, ultimately told to keep doing what I’m doing: exercising, eating plenty of fruit and fish, drinking plenty of green tea, and snacking on dark chocolate.
In the meantime, considering I’m on my laptop the greater part of my days and reading the better part of my nights, it looks like I’m going to have to make a concerted effort to make better use of my reading glasses.
Hey, speaking of reading, I’m sure you’ve all been following my SF comic book series, Dark Matter, and are anxiously looking forward to the fourth and final issue of the opening arc. It hits the shelves on Wednesday. Here’s a sneak peek of the first couple of pages: