I knew it would happen at some point, of course. I’ve been on prednisone almost nonstop for about five years. Right now, I’m on 20 milligrams a day; it’s not a high dose, but not a low one, either. In the past few weeks, I’ve hovered between 10 and 20 milligrams, unable to sustain my weight or my comfort level unless I’m at 20 as I try desperately to go back down to nothing.
And then came the biggest prednisone blow. On Wednesday, I saw my optometrist for my annual appointment. She’s a young mother of 2½-year-old twins, an obviously very intelligent person with a soothing voice. I always enjoy our visits as she regales me with stories of her kids and her home life. I thought Wednesday would be more of the same.
I had noticed lately that my vision wasn’t as sharp as it had been when I wear my long-distance glasses. I also have readers/computer glasses, because I do so much work on the computer, and they seemed to be working just fine. I assumed I merely needed an uptick in my distance correction, coinciding nicely with replacing the pair of glasses I have that are three years old.
But what the doctor found was something more complicated.
“You have cataracts forming in the back of your eyes,” she said, not from aging, but specifically from prednsione use. Right now, I’m still correcting to 20/20 with my glasses, but barely. Everything at 20/20 is slightly out of focus, blurry. I’m no longer getting the sharp correction I usually get.
That’s because the small cataracts are starting to affect my vision. My doctor explained further that it will get worse, dramatically, over a year or so ― maybe slightly more than that, up to two years ― and then it will get so bad that I will need to have the cataracts removed. Once they’re out and artificial lenses put in, I will never have to worry about cataracts again.
I was stunned. Yes, I know prednisone carries many risks; five years ago, not in menopause at age 44, I was diagnosed with osteoporosis. But it was so slight that I haven’t thought about it too much over the ensuing years, until a month ago when I went for my annual physical. My doctor told me I need to at least have a follow-up bone scan to see if it’s worse, and to make a plan if it is.
Still, that feels very far away. I likely won’t break a bone anytime soon. This vision thing feels more immediate. A quick loss of vision scares me, and I don’t like anything having to do with eyes. I never bothered trying to learn to use contacts because I can’t stand the thought of putting anything near my eyes.
My husband just had cataract surgery (he also happened to have a condition that made his cataracts worse) and I saw what he went through. Though the surgery itself seemed no big deal, he was uncomfortable for several days, and the amount of drops he had to put in his eyes every day for weeks and weeks grossed me out.
Now, I will need to do it. It’s not like I have a choice.
But this makes me even more desperate to get off the prednisone. And more saddened than ever that I know, at least right now, I’m not able.
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