Taking Care of the Eyes

Our eyes are how we see and feel our way into the world. What we see and experience become images imprinted in our brains, often through the filter of memory that can also distort those images and experiences (memory is a bad historian). We also don’t remember everything that our eyes have taken in or we’d go nuts. For example, I have a memory of meeting my wife Trini in 1976—close to ten years before we eventually became lovers than husband and wife. But this initial meeting started our life-long friendship (she’s still my best friend). I recall that Trini had on a brown pantsuit. She insists she wore a green blouse and skirt (I’ll concede hers is probably more valid, since she is more likely to actually know and this is not an important issue for me). We hang on to certain images and memories that impacted us in someway, or held deep emotional value, or provided us a sense of context and meaning to our lives. Our eyes are first to pull these in, but also of course our hearing, touch, what are called our five senses (and the sixth sense, intuition or seemingly ethereal aspects, need to also be taken into account). Recently I had a small scare concerning my right eye. Last Monday afternoon, while writing in front of my computer, several spider web-like floaters appeared in front of my eye. Floaters, which I’ve had since I was a child, are natural and usually stay in the background. But this seemed odd—my vision was actually blocked somewhat by these strands of black wriggly lines. They didn’t go away. On Wednesday, I went to an optometrist to get new glasses. I raised the issue of the floaters and he decided to use chemicals to dilate my pupils and look into the back of my eye. Using lights and different instruments, he thought he saw a tear in my retina and perhaps a slight detachment. This is extremely serious. He gave me a prescription for an emergency visit to my local LA County hospital. My wife Trini, who has accompanied me many times to emergencies over the years, came with me in the afternoon. Because of the possible retina issues, an ophthalmologist was called from home. He arrived later that evening and began an extensive search (with more lights and instruments) for any possible tear or retina detachment. He couldn’t find anything like this—although having bright lights into my eye at all angles for about an hour took its toll. But I must say the doctor was persistent and polite. It was all necessary. The upshot is that I didn’t need emergency surgery. For now I have what’s called a posterior vitreous detachment. Not as serious, but if not looked into can turn into something quite serious. I have an appointment at the eye clinic tomorrow to see what else I need to do. I’m grateful this didn’t turn out as bad as we had originally thought. For a while there, while waiting in the emergency (Trini and I didn’t get out of there until midnight), I contemplated the great value of seeing, remembering, imaging, of colors, lights, faces, and the beauty around me. I truly love my eyes. I plan to do all I can to make sure I don’t lose any sight. For now, things look brighter, clearer, lovelier since I’ve gotten over this scare. I’m thankful I can still have these experiences and memories. As many people have said, the eyes are the mirrors to the soul. That’s why some memories are soul-deep, unable to be forgotten, lasting, even if somewhat askew. For as far as I’m concerned, the eyes have it. c/s

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