Poke In the Eye; Sharp Stick

So I got poked in the eye with a sharp stick this morning. I can’t say I highly recommend it, but I can say that it’s not as bad as people lead you to believe.

I got diagnosed (again) with histoplasmosis. My first bout was in 1997. At that time, the best medical science had to offer was to blast the infested part of the eye with a “hot laser”. The good thing about the hot laser approach was that it worked. The bad part was that the laser was also going to burn your retina and leave you with a small blind spot in your eye.

My blind spot isn’t so bad, but it’s exceptionally noticeable when looking at bright things like a snow covered lawn in Winter. There were some other really bad parts to the Hot Laser approach to addressing Histo. For one, they have to freeze your eyeball so it doesn’t move while they blast it with the laser. How do you keep an eye from moving? Freeze the muscles that control the eye. How do you freeze the muscles that control the eye? By taking a cold  needle, sticking it right below the eye through the bottom eyelid, pushing the needle back to where the eye muscles are, and injecting some cold juice into your head. Repeat twice.

After the three needle shots, you then get a giant contact lens jammed into your eye so you can’t blink. In a very “A Clockwork Orange” type of scene, a nurse puts eye drops into your eyes to keep them wet while the Doctor tells you not to move while a red light is pointed at your eye. It was not a very comfortable experience but I survived and the Histo was blown away along with part of my retina.

Four years later, I had another round of Histo, this time in my left eye. Medical science had come a long way in four years. I was one of the first in the city to go for a “cold laser” treatment. This treatment was so new that the FDA had not yet fully approved its use for addressing Histo, so the $2,500 charge came out of my pocket. I gladly paid because this method promised to leave no long lasting blind spots.

It worked really well. The cold laser approach was a much more elegant approach. You get an injection in your arm of some type of fancy goo. After your body has circulated the goo to your eyes, you then lean forward and the doctor blasts a low powered laser into your eye. The laser heats up the goo, and the goo knocks out the Histoplasmosis. It worked on the first try and, four months later, I got a check from the insurance company reimbursing my expenses. Cool.

So I got another bought of Histo. I went to the same doctor as the last two times. Five years later, medical science has, in theory, advanced again but in practicality… To use the Doctor’s words, the new approach is more “barbaric” but he swears it’s safer and extremely effective. The new approach to addressing Histo is by using a drug called Avistan. This is a drug originally designed to combat colon cancer, but some crazy doctor in Miami decided to see how well it works to treat eye problems and, lo and behold, it’s proven to be extremely effective for  ddressing a wide range of optical issues, Histo included. The downside to this wonder drug is that it has to be injected – right in your freaking eye! Yes, the miracle of modern science has advanced to injecting colon cancer drugs right into your eyeball.

You are supposed to go to the pharmacist and get some drops that you put in your eye 4 times a day the day before, of, and after the injection. The drops are supposed to help prevent infection. I forgot to get the prescription filled until yesterday at 5 PM, so I took my 4 drops at 5:00 PM, 8:00P, 11:00P, and at 2AM this morning. I took another drop this morning at 8AM. At the eye doctor’s, they numbed my eye, rubbed some goop on my eyelids to remove any germs, and inserted a thing to keep me from blinking (once again, think of the most classic of scenes in “A Clockwork Orange”). I then had to look up and to the left. And then there was the pricking sensation. And then I saw a blob of liquid in my eye. Then I went blind in my right eye. I was told it would be temporary and indeed my eyesight has returned in my right eye. The vision remained foggy for quite some time in the right eye. It’s now about 5 hours later and the fogginess is definitely clearing up.

I haven’t noticed the Histo spot in my eye getting any smaller yet. I was told that it will take about a week for it to become noticeably smaller. In the worst case, I have to have one or two more shots over the next few weeks.

There is still a dull pain in my right eye from the shot, but it’s mostly gone away by now.

Being poked in the eye with a sharp stick isn’t as bad as people might think, but you’re good if you go your whole life without experiencing this.


I suppose I should update this. I ended up having several Avastin shots. It’s been almost 2 years now so my memory has faded. I think I had three shots. The second shot sucked badly. I don’t think the numbing drop took properly so I felt pretty much the full power of a needle in the eye. It took all I had not to punch the doctor and pull the needle out of my eye.The third shot in the eye, like the first described above, was generally uneventful.

I still have a blind spot in my eye. We decided that after the Avastin didn’t give us the results we were looking for to give the wet laser a shot. It helped a little I think but not nearly as much as the first time I had wet laser treatment (Is it wet laser or cold laser? Regardless, it most certainly isn’t the hot laser treatment).

In retrospect, I wish I had declined the Avastin option and gone for the wet laser option. The laser left my eye with no noticable blind spots; the Avastin left me with a noticable blind spot.



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    • Bill on 2008/03/31 at 13:20
    • Reply

    I found some interesting facts about histoplasmosis on eMedicine (http://emedicine.com/med/fulltopic/topic1021.htm#section~Introduction), including background information and facts. Check it out!

    • Bill on 2008/03/31 at 13:20
    • Reply

    I found some interesting facts about histoplasmosis on eMedicine (http://emedicine.com/med/fulltopic/topic1021.htm#section~Introduction), including background information and facts. Check it out!

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