Myopia status update july 2020

On Thursday the 23nd of july, I had my first check-up for high myopia at the hospital. When, in January of this year, the optometrist measured -16, which was a 2 diopter difference from two years ago, I asked for a referral letter to the ophthalmologist. I needed my GP to refer me and although he might have done without a letter from the optometrist, with my earlier experiences in healthcare, I wasn’t going in without some solid paperwork to back me up. The GP referred me and a little over a week ago was the the hospital. It was a rather straight-forward affair, with a few pleasant surprises.

I ended up having two consultations that day. The first was with an assistant who did the first checks and then an appointment with the ophthalmologist.

The assistant welcomed me and noted that this was my first appointment at their clinic. She then double-checked that I was referred due to glaucoma running in the family. I replied no, I was referred primarily because my eyes had gone from -14 to -16 in 2 years and I just so happen to have a higher risk of glaucoma. I handed her the letter from the optometrist and she copied the information into their digital files. Then, she did what I had expected I’d have great difficulty convincing her to do: She measured my eyesight with my “official” set of glasses on, the set of glasses that give me a headache and that I was sure are over-correcting my myopia. I didn’t even have to ask. Guess what? Both eyes have 120% visual efficiency (which should roughly translate to visual acuity 20 / 16 according to online tables) with that set of glasses! I knew it! It’s impossible that eye measurements come out at -16. I told her so. She asked if I had headaches with those glasses. I confirmed.

Then, she took my eye pressure. The optometrist wasn’t allowed to take my eye pressure with air pressure due to COVID-measures. At the clinic, however, they measure eye pressure by pressing a device against the eye. This is still allowed because it does not have “splash-risk” and can be disinfected. I received eye anesthetic in the form of drops. Then, I had to look into the device as she pressed a little hollow tube against the eye. Didn’t feel a thing. I didn’t get the results from her at that point. I had to wait for the ophthalmologist. Lastly, she used an autorefractor to measure my eyesight. This is a machine that shows you an image – a photograph of a hot air balloon it was for me – and it tries to guess your required prescription. That thing came out at -15. Right.

The assistant then gave me eye drops to dilate my pupils and I was sent back to the waiting room for those to do their work.The ophthalmologist would call me into her office after a while. Did I mention Joep had to wait outside the hospital? I texted him triumphantly (before the drops kicked in, so I could still see my screen then) that -14 is definitely not the correct prescription. I know from looking at our clock at home that my -12 glasses aren’t strong enough for a 100% correction, so I’m somewhere between -12.5 and -13.5 probably. Of course, this was already the case before I started experimenting. I don’t know if my experiments of the past 6 months have done anything positive for me, since I already knew the glasses were too strong. I’m not using a Snellen chart myself, so I have no baseline from January 2020. (I know some people who are trying to improve their myopia on their own have printed a Snellen chart and are using it at home.)

Huuuuuuge pupils. I am not including the entire photograph, because frankly I look drunk and/or stoned and it’s not a charming sight.

When the ophthalmologist called me in, she repeated the question of whether I was referred due to glaucoma. Well, yes and no. My myopia just keeps on progressing, that’s a concern. (Myopia should stop in your twenties, but I know there are many high myopes whose myopia keeps progressing.) The glaucoma is one of those things they want to focus on. I get that, but it isn’t my main concern right now. Yes, I want to prevent glaucoma, but more pressing is my quest to reverse my myopia. Anyway, with the eye drops having dilated my pupils, she could now look into my eyes to see if there are any signs of glaucoma. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but it was quite difficult to keep my eyes open. After the appointment, Joep took a photograph of my eyes and well.. I get why my eyelids didn’t want to stay open and the ophthalmologist had to ‘help’ by lifting my eyelids in order to be able to look into my eye.

There are some blood vessels in the iris of in my left eye that the optometrist also noted. The ophthalmologist felt that the blood vessels are probably not new. It looks calm, she felt there is no need for concern. However, because there’s glaucoma in the family and with high myopia the risk of glaucoma is higher, it would be good to have it checked again in 2 years at their clinic. They will then check the eye pressure again, inspect the optic nerve and then the blood vessel in the left iris can also be checked. In January, my eye pressure was 17 and 16. Now, it was 10 and 11. Anyway, everything looks healthy, see you in 2 years. If anything changes, don’t hesitate to call. Pretty cool huh 🙂

I had some closing questions for her.

  • The optometrist had made a photograph of the blood vessels in the left eye. I asked if they wanted to add this to my medical file. First she said no, but then she changed her mind and asked me to e-mail it to their secretary to include it in my file.
  • I asked for a copy of the report to my GP. For my own geeky tracking of my myopia data.
  • Lastly, I asked her if she could explain the wild differences between measurements. She affirmed that measurements can shift due to visual accommodation. She then suggested that I could see 120% because I was straining. I told her I felt those glasses were way too strong. She then affirmed that this was also a possibility. If I wanted, I could come back for another appointment later, then they could use eye drops that would block the accommodation and they would be able to measure my ‘true’ prescription. I’ve since heard from other high myopes that those measurements are often off. When you exceed -6, measurement errors compound, apparently. I’m not so sure I’m interested in having my eyes paralyzed. After all, I’ve decided to start under-correcting my myopia and I won’t be buying an exact prescription anytime soon. If I ever have to drive, I can use the -14 glasses. Putting more eye drops in my eyes, or any medication for that matter, is something I’d like to avoid unless there’s an emergency. I’m glad I have a baseline measurement now, so that if anything changes I can go back and I have some paperwork backing me up there.

The changes I made over the past six months: I’m using lower prescription glasses, I’m supplementing with B12 and Vital Cell Life’s Multi Mineral Complex which includes zinc and copper (which may be implied in high myopia, as mentioned in a previous post). I’ve installed Workrave again and this time I have an incentive to actually listen to that damn thing. Sometimes I do an eye exercise, by looking left and right repeatedly. I intend to go outside more and I do, but still not as much as I know I should.