Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Eyes

Steve, Katie and I spent three and a half hours in the opthamology clinic at UT-Southwestern this afternoon. (Cooper hopped on a jet plane with Grandma and Papa this morning for a week in New England.) Here is what we know.

Cause of double vision
We've actually known this, but it's good to review. Steve's double vision is caused by a problem with his sixth cranial nerve. This nerve starts in the brain stem, where the Damm Spot lives. The nerve has been damaged by the Damm Spot and/or related swelling. The sixth cranial nerve's only job is to control the eye's ability to move back and forth. It's not working well on Steve's right eye. So, his left eye can move side to side in a normal fashion. But his right doesn't track the same. So he sees two of everything. He doesn't wear a patch over the right eye. He just tries to focus on the image he sees through the left eye and tries to ignore the right.

How to fix double vision
You can try to help the "bad" eye with prisms. You can also have surgery. Surgery is not an option right now. There is too much other work going on in his brain, most importantly chemotherapy every other week until sometime next year.

Seeing single
For the next two weeks, Steve is wearing a prism that was cut to fit his current spectacles. It's a special piece of plastic that snaps into place behind the lens for his right eye. From far away, the prism makes that side of his glasses look foggy. When you are close up, you can more clearly see prism patterns cut into the plastic.

With the help of the prism, for the first time since January, Steve is able to see one image straight in front of him. The image is distorted, though, and images to the far right are double. Still, he was so excited on the drive home to see just one of everything right in front of us.


Next step
Dr. Mc, the opthamologist, doesn't think prisms are an ideal solution for Steve. On our follow-up visit in two weeks, he expects Steve to tell him how awful they are.

Surgery is the better option, he says. Even when it's possible one day in Steve's case, it won't be a perfect solution. Right now, according to Dr. Mc's office, there is nothing that can completely restore Steve's sight to single vision as it was before January.

But wait! There's more: Cataracts
We can add yet another reason why we're anxious for Steve to get off Decadron. Long-term use of the steroid can cause cataracts, and Steve has the beginning stages of cataracts -- a cloudy film -- on both eyes.

Sweet girl
We weren't prepared for how long today's appointment would last. Had we known we would be there for three and a half hours, we would have found someone to take care of Katie for the afternoon. She rarely accompanies us on doctor appointments -- playing with friends is much more fun for everyone involved. Still, she was very well behaved, cuddling, singing quietly and eating lots of snacks provided by the clinic.

2 comments:

Chris said...

I love the t-shirt!!!

GO BLUE!!!

Way to hang in there, Steve!!!

MELISSA TARUN said...

What troupers you all are! Love the new 'prism'--hope it makes seeing the world a little better, Steve! You are so lucky to have such a sweet little girl. :) We miss you all!

Melissa