By Brandon Lemons
I wasn’t planning to write an eye update today (Tuesday, March 1), but I just returned from a doctor’s appointment and have exciting news to share. My right eye tested at 20/30, and it could read two letters from the 20/25 line! I never imagined having eyesight this good again!
Here’s some quick background. Both of my retinas detached badly in the past two years – the right retina in February 2020 and the left one in July 2021. Without medical intervention, I would now be blind. In the past couple years, I have had five retina surgeries, cataract surgery, and a capsulotomy, which removes opacity (haziness) in the vision by cutting a hole in the capsule that surrounds the lens.
After the capsulotomy in my right eye in early February, my sight in that eye took a major leap forward. To imagine the change, think about the difference that is made by washing a windshield that has become dirty and smudged on a slushy day. The improvement is incredible and has countless practical benefits – including that I have started driving again. Frankly, I didn’t think driving again was a realistic possibility; to drive legally, at least one eye must have 20/40 vision, and the best I had after cataract surgery was 20/70. After my left retina detached in 2021, driving wasn’t even a temptation because I knew I couldn’t do it safely.
Suddenly, the capsulotomy changed everything. To be sure, my 20/30 vision is not a typical 20/30; all of the damage and surgeries to my right eye mean that bright things are overly bright, peripheral vision isn’t quite right, I still have weird things floating in my eye, etc. But still, 20/30 is a game-changer. I am incredibly pleased and thankful, and I could tell the ophthalmologist and technician were shocked by the improvement, too.
My left (non-20/30) eye still has a couple procedures upcoming. The vision in that eye is getting hazier by the week due to the growth of a cataract. I have cataract surgery scheduled for April 28, and I expect to have a capsulotomy after that eye has healed from the cataract surgery. So I’m still months away from learning what my longer-term vision will be, but I have confidence in the outcome in the left eye, which will help my overall vision all the more.
One other topic I should mention is that my corneal erosion has disappeared since July 2021. For those who have been around Friedens for more than a couple years, you might remember that I had major problems with the surface of my left eye tearing repeatedly due to irreparable damage and extremely dry eyes. It was excruciating and required extensive daily efforts to reduce the chances of tearing. Amazingly, the steroid drops I was on after my retina surgeries changed the chemical composition of my tears, which has moistened my eyes and eliminated the sticking and tearing of the eye’s surface, which before could happen within minutes of my eyes being closed (which made sleep a scary endeavor). It is yet to be seen if the improvement will last long-term, but I’ve been off the steroid drops for a couple months and am still experiencing the benefits. I’m hoping the change lasts and that the surface of the eye (called the epithelium) has fully healed itself during these months of injury-free reprieve, so that even if the dryness returns, the epithelium will be strong enough to resist being torn. So this is a huge but unexpected blessing of all of my retina problems.
Thank you very much for your prayers. Knowing that countless people are praying for me means a lot. On top of this, I attribute these outstanding results to answered prayer – especially when the outcome is so much better than what the doctors were expecting from a retina that was so mangled. So thank you, and thank God.