Thursday 08 Dec 2016

The Eyes Have It: 2
Matt Seinberg

I have believed that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and if you can’t see them, there is nothing to trust. Having been in the optical business for many years, I had the opportunity to see many eyes, in some very nice colors attached to attractive and ugly people.

The reason I’m talking about eyes is that I’ve had a problem with my deep brown eyes for a couple of years. (Click to read earlier column about eye issues.) Tears flowed from my eyes. The tearing would not stop. The tearing was worse at night than in the daytime. I ended up with red, irritated eyes that drove me crazy.

When I had my annual eye exam, in February, with Dr. Neil Rubin, I once again mentioned my teary eyes. He gave me a prescription for some drops that maybe would open up my clogged tear ducts. It didn’t’ work, so I called him back and got the name of the specialist that performs a procedure to reopen all the ducts on the bottom of the eyes.

I called to make an appointment, and there was nothing available for a month, so the suffering would continue. Trust me, having your eyes tear for hours at a time is not fun. If you don’t wipe them away, you can’t see because your vision is blurry, and if you do wipe them away, eventually they get very irritated.

The day of my appointment with Dr. Schlessinger arrives. One of his assistants takes me back to the exam room. He explains that he wants to do two procedures, one of them today, and if that doesn’t work, another one is in two weeks. The following three paragraphs are from his website that describes what he does in the office.

The lacrimal gland produces tears that drain through tiny channels in the eyelids called canaliculi. From the canaliculi, the tears drain through the lacrimal sac and nasolacrimal duct into the lower part of the nose. There can be too much tear production or a blocked tear outflow system. The consequences of excess tearing from a blocked tear duct include persistent blurred vision, tears running down the cheek and chronic red eye.

In order to determine the degree of obstruction and the site of blockage, Dr. Schlessinger will flush the tear ducts with saline. Flushing the system is a simple in office procedure and causes no discomfort. For some patients there is relief of the symptoms, but this is only temporary, requiring additional care.

Surgery is necessary to treat those with severe obstruction of the tear ducts, or those who have repeated infections of the system. The needed operation is Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR). The DCR creates a new channel to allow tears to drain into the nose again. Specific operations depend on the site of obstruction. A DCR is a “same day” procedure performed at our ambulatory facility.

The flushing of the tear ducts didn’t work for me. There was some mild relief, and even using prescription eye drops, I still had the persistent tearing. Two weeks later, I go back to the office, and get the DCR. Into the operating room, I go, and I’m strapped down.

Kidding, it’s not true. It’s a big office, with a comfortable chair, which tilts back so he can get to my eyes easier. I wish I had known what was to come. I would have asked to be strapped down. At least they gave me a couple of rubber stress balls to hold, tightly. I would have crushed anything else.

The nurse, Sandy, puts some numbing drops in my eyes. She said that I wouldn’t feel anything. I’ve always had a problem with anything being in my eyes, which is why I don’t wear contact lenses.

I once had a doctor put in contacts. To get the contact out of my eyes, it took him and two assistants. It wasn’t a pretty site.

Anyway, Dr Schlessinger comes back and starts scraping the bottom of my left eye. That’s the one giving me the most trouble, so we did it first. Then I see him, with what looking like a pair of scissors, coming at me. I can feel my heart start to race and my right food is moving as if it wants to run away.

Although I don’t feel anything, I hear a “snip, snip, snip” noise. I’m really freaking out, but not making a sound. Would it be appropriate for a 54-year-old man to scream like a kid in the middle of this procedure? I don’t think so, but I was screaming internally.

It’s finally over and Sandy goes over the post-operative instructions. These include putting an ice pack on my left eye to reduce swelling and putting an antibiotic drop in twice a day. She says I can also take Tylenol, if I feel any pain.

Sandy takes me to the front, where she calls in the prescription. I make an appointment to return in two weeks to do the right eye.

When I get home, Michelle looks at me and asks what happened? I run to the bathroom and my left eye is turning all shades of purple, as if someone had punched me. Why did no one tell me how much bruising would occur?

Now, this is day four after the DCR and my eye is purpler than ever. Luckily, there really isn’t any swelling and I can see fine. My left eye is no longer tearing. My right eye is tearing, but not as badly. I’m still going to have that one operated on.

I hope when I go back, the left eye will look normal. If not, I’ll look like a raccoon with glasses.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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