For many years, I had a bulletin board in my office where special photographs, postcards, buttons, cards and such were posted for personal aesthetic pleasure and to capture treasured mementos. Though even a casual visitor to my office could divine a sense of my character from this collection. A kind of physical precursor to a public Facebook or Pinterest home page. One of these was a comic clipping from Gary Larson’s The Far Side. The single frame depicts a scene in a cinema where the operator is peering down in horror from the projection booth to the floor below where a pair of eyeglasses lie broken on the floor. As the movie continues to roll, shouts of “Focus! Focus!” erupt from the audience. Funny. A little sick, but funny.
While I didn’t need the reminder – the dryness, the strain, the floaters, the pressure remind me of it every day – my biennial eye exam has focussed my attention on my changing vision. It’s hard to say how much of the change is aging and how much is related to Parkinson’s though undoubtedly, together, it’s a bit of a double whammy. Drying of the eyes, often caused by a combination of reduced blinking and a side-effect of PD medication, is common. According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, some vision difficulties are related to changes in the movement of the eyeball. These are motor symptoms, similar to other motor symptoms caused by loss of dopamine neurons. Blurred or double vision, and eye strain, are frequent because the eyes may have trouble moving together to focus on things traveling toward or away from you. Some PwP also have trouble reading because the eye movements needed to follow the lines of a page are slowed and have trouble starting (similar to gait freezing in the legs). Changes in depth perception are also experienced by many making activities such as walking and driving more challenging.
So, it came as little surprise that, after a battery of tests and a thorough exam, it was concluded that, indeed my vision is deteriorating. Not perhaps as quickly as I had perhaps thought but neither is it declining at a glacial speed (unless of course one is referring to the melting of the glaciers in Canada’s north under the previous regime:) ). I was referred for new spectacles (which are sure to feature in some future blog) and I’m now transitioning to them. I’ve been taking them out for a test-ride driving, for reading indoors and out, under various degrees of light conditions and so far, so good. They definitely do little to rectify many of the difficulties brought on by PD, but they do help. And no one is imploring me to “Focus! Focus!”!