Kate’s Recent Ophthalmologist’s Appointment

A year ago, I reported on what I thought might be Kate’s last appointment with her ophthalmologist. The visit hadn’t gone as well as any of us would have liked, and the doctor said, “Well, I have good news for you. You don’t need to come back for a year.”

When we made an appointment for August 28 of this year, I couldn’t imagine that Kate would be up to another visit when the time came. I suspect her doctor felt the same way. I knew the potential problem would be Kate’s ability to follow the instructions of the assistant who does the initial eye test before the doctor comes in, but I felt it was worth it just to have the doctor examine her eyes.

This year we had the added problem of wearing a mask. I haven’t had a problem putting it on her, but she doesn’t want to keep it on. She usually asks if she can take it off at least once before we get inside a restaurant or her primary care physician’s office. Her ophthalmologist’s appointment can present a bigger challenge because we usually spend a longer time in the waiting room. We were lucky this time. She was called in with fifteen minutes. By then, of course, she was ready to remove it. Both the assistant and the doctor were very understanding and let her take it off it until she walked out of the examination room.

The real issue this time was the one we faced a year ago. She can’t follow instructions. That is actually worse now than a year ago. Thus, it was very difficult to get her to understand what she was supposed to see when the assistant said, “Tell me what you see.” She looked at everything but the letters used in the eye test. The assistant was very patient and finally got her to see the appropriate letters. Kate was also patient although it was clear that she didn’t understand why she was having to go through this.

Once again, she ultimately tested well, 20/40. That confirms what we have learned in past exams. Her eyes are not the problem. It’s the Alzheimer’s that prevents her seeing well.

We had gotten through two hurdles, the mask and the vision test. The next hurdle was more of a problem. The assistant needed to put drops in her eyes to dilate them for the doctor. Kate quickly closed her eye as she put in the first drop. The assistant was concerned that she didn’t get enough on the first try, so she wanted to try again. Kate was frightened. I got up and held her hand and told her to squeeze it. I’m not sure that made any difference, but we ultimately managed to get the drops in.

When the doctor came in, she had been briefed by the assistant and decided not to put Kate through any more than necessary. She did the pressure test for glaucoma. Kate handled that remarkably well. I was surprised that she didn’t balk at the bright light the doctor used to looked at her eyes.

We made an appointment for another year, but I am doubtful that Kate will be up to it again. Of course, we’ll see. I felt the same way last year.

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