People with mysterious vision loss getting answers

July 6, 2012 5:24:25 PM PDT
Few things cause more fear, than going blind and not knowing why. The people you are about to meet were in that situation.

"They all told me to give up," said Delores Cunningham.

But she wouldn't give up even when she continued losing her vision and doctors couldn't tell her why.

"I had retinitis pigmentosa, then I was told I had macular degeneration, and then at one point I was told I could have surgery to correct it and then I was told I couldn't have surgery to correct it," Cunningham said.

Finally she got the answer from this picture -- it was geographic atropy. And it's not curable.

"The small area that remains is the part that you're seeing with," said Allan Panzer, OD/therapeutic optometrist.

"I'm happy to know what I have to deal with. Just knowing what it is has been a lot easier than guessing or wondering," said Cunningham.

"They've run seemingly hundreds of tests, MRIs, CT scans and you name it, it's been done," said Gerald Rivers.

For 12 years, Rivers too has had a mysterious vision loss.

"So all of these years, no one has been able to find out until now. Nobody's been able to see it," He said.

Dr. Panzer found it on this picture -- a calcium deposit on the optic nerve caused his vision loss. It's not curable.

"And this little area is what's keeping him from seeing. That little white spot is calcium," said Dr. Panzer.

"It didn't show up in the color picture of the optic nerve. But only showed up in an autoflorescent picture.

"The ordinary camera takes a color photograph of your eye, this is called hyperflourescence and autoflourescence," the doctor said.

The new technology helps people who are losing vision get answers. But it also helps people with diabetes monitor their vision, to make sure any vision loss doesn't get worse.

"It's gonna let me know when I'm in trouble," said Hy Applebaum.

He is an architect with diabetic retinopathy. Now he can better monitor what's going on inside his eyes. The optomap's diagnoses aren't always what people want to hear.

"At least I know what the problem is," said Rivers.

And that's better than spending years not knowing.

Dr. Panzer is one of the first to have these new machines and he believes they may help people with complicated retina and macula problems. The test is painless and takes just seconds.


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