Saturday, 1 October 2011

Eyes and heredity

I was inspired to write about eyes by Mr London Street, whose 100 words you can read here.  I'm not trying to write like him, I couldn't and wouldn't try.  Me, I am a storyteller.

I thought, your eyes are the only part of you that you can't ever really see.  With mirrors you can see any other part of you you like.  We've all done it, girls, don't deny it.  This summer I got a verruca, for the first time since I was about 12, and took it out myself, with a sterilised nail file and a mirror.  Easy. Your eyes change focus when you look at something.  Of course they do.  So they change focus when you look at your own eyes in the mirror.  That's why your eyes look wrong if you ever see a photograph of yourself in which your eyes are vacant or unfocused.

My eyes are green.  I read somewhere that green is not a true colour for eyes, that if your eyes look green it is because the iris has a mixture of colours.  Well, maybe. Whatever.  My mother is dark, of Welsh heritage, and has brown eyes.  My brother has eyes the same shape and colour as hers, and although his hair is auburn he is the darkest of the three siblings. Can even suntan if he is careful.  Not me or my sister. My father was a redhead with blue eyes, and so is my sister, and I started out browny auburn with green eyes.  The eyes have stayed the same colour but the hair of course has not.  Why are all European babies born with blue eyes?  Other babies aren't.

My children's father is fair with blue eyes.  My daughter has brown hair with auburn lights, and grey eyes like her paternal grandfather. My son has dark hair which was blond when he was a child, and green eyes like me.  Both of them have their father's eyes in terms of shape. My granddaughter's father is a redhead with blue eyes, and so is my granddaughter.  I was fascinated by Mendel's fruit flies when I was at primary school and was given a book on science for children, which explained why you do not have to have the same colour eyes as either of your parents.

I have never - yet - been shortsighted, so did not need glasses to read until the design fault in humans kicked in when I was in my mid-forties - I got longsighted and couldn't read any more because my arms weren't long enough.  It took a bit longer for me to need glasses in front of a computer screen.  Then, a couple of years ago. I couldn't see properly.  It happened quite quickly.  The left eye worked OK but the right one didn't.  At first I kept thinking I had a dirty mark on my glasses, but that wasn't it.  Every artificial light had a big halo round it, and I kept walking past people I knew because I hadn't seen them.  I started getting blinding headaches late in the day, because the left eye was doing the work of two and was protesting.  If I covered my left eye then people around me were "men like trees walking" and I was seeing "through a glass, darkly".  Anyway, not very surprisingly, it turned out that my diabetic tendencies, inherited from my maternal grandfather (I look exactly like him) had given me a cataract.  I had it fixed last year: it took 15 minutes to replace the lens and was done under local anesthetic, with the doctor and nurse chatting over my head about hospital scandal and colleagues' affairs, presumably to distract me.  In French hospitals they routinely give oxygen, which is apparently also very useful for pain management, and afterwards I was over the top with euphoria for half an hour or more.  Anyone who suffers from depression ought to have oxygen therapy I reckon.  So now I have a silicon lens in my right eye, and carry a card to say I have an implant.  Presumably for the crematorium when the time comes.  My vision in that eye is just about perfect, maybe a little shortsighted, which comes with age.  The ophthalmologist I saw afterwards told me that while the vision in the left eye had deteriorated somewhat, one eye was a little shortsighted and other somewhat longsighted, and they were compensating for each other, which was why I could read comfortably without glasses.  I still can.  Long may that last.  What a piece of work is a man, eh - I am in Quotation City today.  The downside of the new lens is that I need stronger light to read by than I used to, and that because both eyes are working harder than they had to before I tend to get headaches towards the end of the working day.  I never get them at weekends though.

Intraocular lens implant is done routinely for cataract, and is very simple and painless.  In the poorest countries of the world there are blind grandmothers being led around by children because that operation is not available to them.  That would have been me too, probably minus the child to lead me around, if I hadn't lived in a rich country.  But it struck me that lens replacement would be better, and probably cheaper, than laser surgery.  It's certainly less invasive, doesn't hurt at all, and the only after-effect I had was that for a few hours both eyes felt a bit gritty in the way they do when you haven't had enough sleep.

Just a thought, medical establishment...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I feel quite ill after reading this and am regretting my breakfast. My breakfast happened to be a Muller rice so this is probably why.

I am funny about eyes and am now thinking about slicing into a cow's eye at school in biology with a scalpel.

I could never wear contact lenses because of putting them in and the eyball and touching it and the lens possibly going behind the eye and ---- uuuuuuuuuuugh.
And trying to pull it out.