Updated & Expanded
In the further examination of the CAPOS enigma, we move on to the Optic atrophy part of this puzzle.
Do you know what atrophy means? When I first wrote this blog, I didn’t pay any attention to that word; and it is an important word.
Atrophy means deterioration of a nerve, tissue or muscle. There are many different types, causes etc.
When atrophy is used to describe vision loss, it refers to the wasting away of the optic nerve. If that nerve is damaged, the vision is also damaged.
To illustrate; This nerve is like the satellite dish from our recent past, which you could, in rural BC, watch pro wrestling from Japan, in Japanese! To go further back to those rabbit ear antenna of television yore, the one you needed to fiddle and jiggle for 20 minutes just to get a clear view of a Saturday night hockey game.
Okay, these two examples are related to optic atrophy how? If the satellite dish is not pointing at the right place, or the antenna is jiggled wrong, the reception of the image you are trying to watch will be blurry, scratchy, or warbly. So with optic atrophy, the optic nerve that runs between the back of the eye and the vision cortex at the back of the brain is damaged somewhere alone the way. That means images will be blurry or distorted!
It is common knowledge that each side of the body, is linked to the opposite side of the brain. I learned this fact in elementary school, did you? So you should know the left side of your body is connected to the right side of your brain, and the right is connected to the left side. Did you also know that the optic nerve also crosses?
Oh what a tangled web this becomes, it is all very interesting and explanatory!
Let me give you a picture: and I will explain it for you…
I am explaining it to those who can’t read the picture… I think it might be better if you looked at this word, and I’ll explain in the next paragraph;
Each eye sees four images of that one word, left side and right side. The images that you saw of the word, left and left, right and right, are then sent to the vision cortex for processing. And you probably didn’t notice the spelling error, until now.
The images are sent to the vision cortex on optic nerves, left sided images go to the left side of the vision cortex, and those on the right go to the right side of the vision cortex. Lost yet? Inner images cross at the optic chasm, those are opposite sides… I am sure you are lost!
So, in optic atrophy, where is does the damage occur? Where has the nerve become deteriorated? Well, I can answer that without looking it up; Damage can happen anywhere along that route, and it can happen on one side only!
Okay, okay! Let me take off my smart ass professor hat and get back to the point! Now, when I first did this blog, I mentioned that a general symptom of Cerebellar Ataxia is vision abnormalities. Which means blurry vision, problems reading from word to word or following moving objects.
Why is do those vision problems, generally affect Cerebellar Ataxia, when the cerebellar’s functions are more inclined to balance, motor functions, motor learning, and such? That is a good question! I’ve asked my genetic specialist… obviously, I did not get a reply!
For me, I have:
- Blurry Vision, if you are standing a foot from me, I can see your face, and your hands while you are signing to me. If you step back two feet, your face starts to blur. If you step back four feet, your face will blur to a pink blob and your hands are indiscernible. I never could see the colour or, heck, the whites of your eyes, until I am going to kiss you. Like that is going to happen, I always close my eyes when kissing people….
- Colour issues; I have walked into things that have the same colour as the background. And, this is an interesting phenomenon, I have seen shoes walking towards me, but the person in the shoes are obscure until closer. This is due to a few things, light in the area, clothing. I also cannot see at night without a flashlight, I’ve taken my dog out for a late night urination, and I cannot see the dog at the end of the leash! I just know she is there!
- Reading problems, before I could read very small print, but over time, this has become impossible. Even reading large print can tire my eyes.
- Inability to judge distance: you can count the times I’ve walked into doors, poles, cupboards, railings, etc., by the sheer number of craters, dents and scratches on my head! This usually happens because I inaccurately estimated that a sign post being far, when, in fact, it was extremely close! CLANG! This might also be connected to colours, as no sign posts are painted neon green, they are uniformly gunmetal gray! I recall once, about 20 years ago, walking smack into a parking lot pole, that I didn’t see until afterwards! I even apologized to … the lady standing close by, she gave me a disdainful look: “Sorry about that, I didn’t know that was there!”
- Nystagmus is also a major problem with my vision: This is a condition that is involuntary movements of the eyes, they vibrate, for a lack of a better word, rapidly. Years ago, in Sudbury, one eye doctor wanted to correct this by using contacts, which I declined, yet, he was so stubbornly determined that contacts would solve my issues, that he refused to put my vision loss at legal status for the blind. Instead he put it down as normal vision, with glasses. Thanks to him, I nearly lost my CNIB benefits.
- I also have issues with saccade movements, which is a quick, simultaneous movement of both eyes between two or more phases of fixation in the same direction. This is what I studied in university: if you focus on the middle of the letter “k” in king, then move to “q” in queen or back to the “d” in middle, your focus suspends, then shifts, then zooms in again. Everyone can do this little trick. But for me, I either overshoot, or undershoot.
- And finally, I sometimes thing my eyes are not working together, a condition called strabismus. I seem to see things with one eye, but both are looking at you, one is doing the looking, while the other is not catching anything. I need to have a look at this.
All this about vision, and I can see the sunrise! That is a good thing!
I do get tired of concentrating on reading or watching TV, which is another topic all together!
And, with COVID-19 and the usage of Web Meetings, I get tired of them. I will use this tech occasionally, but, they tire me out more quickly than watching an interpreter! Blue light glare?
Anyways, I started editing this article a week ago! Time to send it off!
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