Yesterday was not a good day. I had a visit to my optician for a routine eye-test or so I thought. Optic Neuritis is a condition I was aware of, indeed I have reported on it previously, as a possible MS (Multiple Sclerosis) symptom.
I note from my earlier discussion of Optic Neuritis that I had accepted the condition as part of Multiple Sclerosis albeit I had assumed it was a temporary effect.
On this occasion I had attended a different optician to that which I had seen before. It was refreshing insomuch as this optometrist was willing to discuss MS (Multiple Sclerosis) as the probable cause of my vision problems. The previous optician just acknowledged it and immediately moved on to standard eye tests.
It transpired, on this occasion, that my eyesight was so bad, the standard tests could not be done. When asked if I could read the characters on the chart I had to confess that I couldn’t see the chart let alone the characters on it.
My pupils are small, too small to allow the optometrist to inspect the inside of the eye. To rectify this I had special eye drops applied to dilate the pupils. I have undergone this procure before, it is painless and easy to undergo.
While the eye drops were given time to work, I was taken for what they called field tests which test peripheral vision by spotting brief flashing white lights on a screen whilst focused on a central red spot.
I did not perform very well, in fact the young lady overseeing the test had to rerun it to confirm the results.
Optic Neuritis Diagnosed
With the field test completed and my pupils now fully dilated, I returned to the optometrist’s examination room where my eyes could be fully inspected. The news was not good. The optometrists could clearly see where the optic nerve terminates at the rear of the eye and in my right eye the picture was gloomy.
In a healthy eye, in my left eye, the optic nerve appears as a strong red patch. In my right eye, this area showed as a greying, yellowish patch. To use my optometrist’s words “The optic nerve was dying”. I had Optic Neuritis. As with any diagnosis, hearing the words, even though you may have suspected it, is a body blow.
“Can this be treated?”, “Is the condition reversible?” were my first and obvious questions. The answer was “No!”
The Psychology of the Diagnosis
OK, so I have Optic Neuritis. That’s no big deal, right. But hang on a minute. I this inflammation gets worse, it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that I will go blind. At least, I might go blind in one eye.
The mind is a funny thing. Not funny ha ha, but funny strange. Hearing the words “You have Optic Neuritis”, immediately starts the brain working in overdrive. What is life like for a blind person. I don’t know any blind people to ask.
All of these thoughts were milling around in my mind. I was feeling stressed, I knew that, but it didn’t stop it happening. I was feeling ill. I was having another flare.
How does my psychologist react to her mind when it plays similar tricks? I must ask her when I next see her.
Clearly, at this stage, I am not blind. Writing this article would be a little tricky if I was. Yes there are speech-to-text tools that can be utilised. I have used them in the past as aids to typing rather than aids to vision. I may have to revisit these if the worst come to the worst.
Sleep on the Problem
I was getting over-excited. I knew it was a silly reactions to news that wasn’t wholly unexpected. So forget about it. Try to get some sleep. Things always look better in the morning.
Sure enough, after a reasonable night’s sleep, I could look at thing a little more objectively. Nothing had changed over the course of the last 24 hours. My vision was still poor but, it has been poor for years.
I I was to lose my vision, it would certainly put a stop to my Blogging. No bad thing you may say. But it is one of the things I do every day to try and help preserve my sanity.
I make mention of brain fog in the title of this post. It is misplaced, it is inaccurate. Optic Neuritis is not brain fog, although from my perspective the difference is somewhat academic.
Yes, I have had optic neuritis in the past and it cleared after a course of steroids. But it was not referred to as optic neuritis. Being told, officially, that I have the condition and seeing the images on the ophthalmologist’s screen some how makes it so much worse.
The official Standpoint
I always feel it would be a dereliction of duty to entice you, my trusty reader, to visit this page to read my opinion on Optic Neuritie without also offering you the chance to read the official view of the MS Society.
They have an interesting article about a study into the use of Phenytoin for epilepsy which may have benefits for those of us with MS caused optic neuritis.
The main optic neuritis entry for the MS Society suggests a course of steroids to counteract the vision problems. There is no mention of phenytoin as this is still undergoing field trials.
The steroid treatment can be effective as I have been prescribed prednisolone, with great results, for this very symptom in the past.
Over to you
I wrap up this article with my usual invitation to you to share your thoughts on this topic. Especially if you have experienced vision problems brought about by MS or Fibromyalgia.
If you think anything I have written is inaccurate or wrong, please put me right. I value your opinion on this or any other aspect of chronic illness.