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Dishing with Dee: Eye conditions should not be left untreated

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She also said that as we get older the walls of our arteries get thinner and due to the combination of both facts, in all probability, I may have popped a small blood vessel in my eye during my sleep. She also suggested that if pain developed or the redness did not go away in a few days to consult a physician. Her advice sounded logical and as there was no subsequent pain and the redness did disappear in a few days, case closed. Not so!It seems I had developed something called iritis, which most people have never heard of including myself. It is an inflammation of the iris and not all that unusual. The problem, if left untreated, can cause damage and complications. As my eyesight worsened, we decided since I hadn't had my eyeglasses updated in several years, it was probably time for a new exam. But there was no improvement even with the new prescription glasses.It was now time for a consultation with an ophthalmologist. He referred me to an eye surgeon. During the six months between the inflammation and the surgery, the untreated iritis resulted in the formation of scar tissue on the iris, freezing it in a permanent position. This meant it could not open or close to accommodate changing light conditions. In the interim, a very mild form of the same condition affected my left eye. Since there was no pain and the redness disappeared in a day we thought nothing of it. The solution was surgery on each eye several weeks apart. The surgery was in four parts: 1) remove the scar tissue on the iris; 2) stretch the iris so it would freely open and closed properly again; 3) remove cataracts which had been forming slowly over the years - it made sense to remove them at this time as they would eventually have to be removed anyway; 4) insertion of a permanent intraocular lens in the lens capsule of the eye.If left untreated it could possibly have resulted in legal blindness at the worst, or coke-bottle eyeglasses at the best. As a photojournalist I know of no such animal as a seeing eye dog that can take photographs.The reason for this long and lengthy explanation of my recent experience is twofold. First, please, under no circumstances attempt to self-diagnose a condition. Second, please do not neglect or ignore anything unusual pertaining to your eyes. See a doctor or make an appointment to consult with a doctor. Profit from my experience and take care of yourself.Believe it or not, there is an upside to this tale of woe. Prior to the surgery I had worn bifocals for many years. Now, due to the implant of the lenses I do not need glasses for long distance. I just need nonprescription reading glasses. When I go back to the doctor in a month for my final exam, there is a possibility I may not need the reading glasses either.If you or any member of your family or friends require surgery, do not hesitate for fear of pain. The doctor assured me that I would positively not feel a thing. He was right. There was absolutely nothing to fear. Please pass this advice on to anyone who can benefit from the information. It is such a relief not to be walking around like Sherlock Holmes with his magnifying glass.On a sad note, we have to inform you of the passing away of Virginia Dent, who had been a community activist and a staunch member of many worthwhile Queens organizations. She was a member of the Flushing Rotary as well as the president of the Bayside Historical Society. In 2002 she made the women of distinction list. There is a section in Udalls Cove called Virginia Point in her honor and in appreciation for all her efforts in keeping and maintaining the nature preserve. She and her husband shared 54 happy years together. Rest in peace, Virginia. Needless to say we will all miss you. But we will always remember you in our prayers.For a change of pace, we would like to add a few happy notes. Congratulations to U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (the proudest grandfather in Queens) - his daughter Lauren presented him with his first grandchild, a baby boy named Max.We would also like to congratulate all six of Ackerman's appointees to our various service academies. They were Raul Serrano and Susy Rim to the U.S. Military Academy, William Cornachio to the U.S. Navel Academy and Cornell Daia, Brett Daniel and Rocco Musumeci to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.We would also like to congratulate Andrew Hevesi on his winning the assembly seat vacated by Michael Cohen in last Tuesday's special election. His opponent Anthony Como ran a good race in a tough election. We predict Como will have a bright future in his political career.The American Cancer Society held its Big Apple Basket Ball event at Leonard's of Great Neck. The honorees were Joseph Sciame, vice president of St. John's University, Dr. Jasmin Moshirpur, medical director of Mt. Sinai Hospital, and Anthony Bonomo, CEO of Physicians Reciprocal Insurers. Of course, Coach Louis Carnesca was there - his name is synonymous with St. John's basketball.There was a luncheon on Saturday afternoon at the Sheraton LaGuardia East for the Flushing Democratic Club honoring District Leader Ethel Chen. Some of the guests were Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, Assemblyman Jimmy Meng, Councilman John Liu and President of the Flushing Chinese Businessmen's Association Peter Koo.I am looking forward to getting back to work full time without impaired eyesight.That's it for this week. As always we look forward to hearing from you via voice mail at 718-767-6484, fax 718-746-0066 or if you prefer e-mail at deerrichard@aol.com. Till next week, Dee.

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