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A health note from the editor
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• Posted by: Christian Clemmensen   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Wednesday, May 21, 2008, at 8:53 a.m.
• IP Address:

As veterans of Filmtracks may remember, I was diagnosed in the late 1990's with a rare, hereditary form of lattice degeneration in my eyes. Combined with my nearsightedness, this condition led to rhegmatogenous retinal detachment in both eyes over a two-year period from 1997 to 1999.

To avert immediate blindness at the time, doctors used nearly every available treatment, ranging from basic laser welding of the retinas to full blown scleral buckling (the physical placement of an encircling plastic band around the eyes). Luckily, the damage caused by the posterior vitreous separation was concentrated on the sides of the retina, avoiding the macula and therefore primarily threatening my peripheral vision. Because of my youth (compared to most others who experience these problems late in life), my eyes have proven resilient enough to allow me a normal lifestyle (minus roller coasters, unfortunately, which I dearly miss from my childhood).

On Monday of this week, the condition struck again. Upon suddenly losing some sight in my right eye, I was diagnosed with new retinal tears caused by renewed vitreous separation. A combination of laser welding and the injection of gas into the vitreous cavity is being used to repair the damage and hopefully prevent further problems for several more years to come. These procedures started on Tuesday and will continue through Thursday (when the bulk of the surgery will be done). There is an 80% chance of success with these procedures, and, if not achieved, a more invasive vitrectomy or additional scleral buckling carries a 98% chance of success.

Either way, I'll likely get through this relapse with my previous vision maintained. It's a frustrating and scary distraction, however, and it obviously means that my schedule for Filmtracks will be delayed. Despite the fact that these problems never require surgery on both eyes at the same time (my left eye is currently still holding together), my experience is that each of these procedures on one eye or the other causes double vision, the inability to focus, or enough general irritation to keep me from easily reading or writing for up to a week.

As far as Filmtracks is concerned, the bad news is that I have not been able to finish coverage for the new scores for Ironman, Indiana Jones, or The Chronicles of Narnia (among others) before the remainder of these procedures. They'll be reviewed eventually, maybe even by the end of next week if all goes smoothly. The good news is that 2008 has been extremely productive so far in terms of the re-writes; I've finished 104 of them this year, which means that (barring continued eyeball difficulties) the entire re-write process could be done by the end of 2009.

The advice that I give to everyone I meet in life, including all who read this site, is to never take your eyesight for granted. Appreciate your ability to admire your surroundings, drive a car, watch movies in theatres, or, simply, find the toilet. While only 1 in 10,000 Americans will suffer from retinal detachment and its associated threat of blindness, you may never know if you'll have to deal with it until the day you wake up and you can't see in one of your eyes because it's filling with blood. Take a moment to just look around and enjoy the sense.


Updates in this Thread:     Expand >>
  •   A health note from the editor  (16427 views)    We're Here
       Christian Clemmensen - Wednesday, May 21, 2008, at 8:53 a.m.

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