I saw my Ophthalmologist yesterday because I’m experiencing symptoms of Optic Neuritis in my “good eye”. We’re going to try and catch it REALLY early if it turns out to be O.N. again, but we’re still not sure – so it’s ‘wait and see’, get an MRI on Tuesday – or if symptoms worsen – RUN to the ER.
While I wait, I thought I’d write up a post describing what it’s like to have impairment due to permanent Optic Nerve damage from O.N. People have asked me about it quite a lot, and it’s really difficult to answer. I spent hours this morning thinking it over, and I think I may have a combination of things people can imagine or do so they’ll understand what I “see”.
First, hold your hand with your fingers spread casually in front of one eye. Not right up close. Here’s a picture to illustrate:
Got that? Now look around. Don’t focus, just look. Walk if you want to. You’ll be able to see everything pretty much normally, with your hand just kinda… well, there. Again, don’t read or do anything that requires you to see in detail. Just look around. You should be able to see all the landmarks in your house or office without problems as your normally would.
Okay, remember that and file it away.
Here’s the next step. Imagine you’re seeing through fog. I hope you know what that looks like. On the off chance you don’t, this is how I want you to picture said fog:
See how this particular image is blurrier in the middle? I picked this particular image because my vision is impaired in the center of my right eye. So, now you have the fog image, now let’s overlay some static.
This is the hard part. There’s really nothing that is a perfect facsimile, but here’s one that comes close.
The spots are large and unevenly spaced, but with a lot of clear around. My static is probably (and I say probably because it’s hard for me to pin down exactly how spread out it is) more white than black. Now I’d blur the static and overlay the fog with it – like this:
Again, I left it mostly in the center, since that’s where my blindness is. This isn’t 100% accurate, because we have to go back to the hand example I gave you earlier.
So imagine the static-y fog in the center of your vision, but only where your fingers are when you have them in front of your eyes. With both eyes open you can see fairly normally while you’re doing everyday things. There’s just this nagging bit of noise on one side of your field of vision.
If you focus your vision on words or something similar while your hand is in front of your face, the item is much harder to see, and sometimes impossible to make out. You would have to take down your hand (in my case, shut my right eye) in order to see it clearly.
The static only appears in one eye, so if I shut the right eye, it goes away. But it’s not easy to see everything with one eye, and in my case, difficult since my left eye is astigmatic.
Now, imagine shutting one eye and seeing only that last picture in your field of vision. That’s what I see when I close my left eye. Sometimes if I move my eye around I can focus in on something that appears in that middle area, kind of like you can see that person standing there – but it’s not normal vision as I used to know it.
That’s what I came up with to describe my semi-blindness. I know it’s not perfect, but maybe it clears up (haha) a few questions my friends (you) have had over the last year.