Today I want to share some incredible information about the world of modern medicine. And this time it's not regarding the wonders of reproductive medicine. Although I'm still in awe of the fact that in just over a month I could potentially be pregnant with adopted twins who are not genetically related to me or one another! That's pretty wild in it's own right. ;-)
But instead, this post is about my wonderment in the field of ophthalmological medicine and how a new retinal breakthrough is likely going to greatly improve my dad's life, and make the rest of my family incredibly happy.
I've mentioned before that my dad is completely blind from a genetic retinal disorder called Retinitis Pigmentosa. He's gone increasingly blind since a teen and ultimately went legally blind in 1985. Since his diagnosis, he's learned to adapt to life with a cane and with lots of my mom's help. When my mom passed away in 2011, he had to learn to be independent on a whole new level and it's been pretty hard on him.
He is incapable of most everyday things that most of us sighted people take for granted. He obviously can't drive, he can't use the gas burners his stove. He wouldn't know if there was a fire breaking out in his laundry room. He gets lost at the grocery store unless someone is there to help him. And he can't even walk to our house which is a measly 15 houses away simply because there's a busy street in between with no crosswalk. Most days he's optimistic and has a zest for life, but many times his struggle becomes very apparent. These are just a few of many examples.
Well yesterday out of the blue he announced that his nurse had given him information on a newly FDA approved, Medicare-eligible device that can give him his vision back.
Yes, you read that correctly. He can get his vision back after being blind for the last 30 years.
The device is called the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis system.
In addition to surgery, the patient must wear specially fitted high-tech glasses that transmits a video image from the glasses to a retinal implant. Yes, it's clunky and looks a little silly. In fact, it reminds me of Geordi Laforge from Star Trek the Next Generation. But who cares how it looks?! This man hasn't seen a thing in almost three decades!
Now even though he obviously isn't going to regain all the vision back that he once had, he would be able to see shapes, shades of black/white/gray, read large letters, and recognize faces. He would be able to walk safely off of a curb, stay on the sidewalk, or avoid a branch hitting him in the head while he is walking. I know this seems insignificant, but when the alternative is to see complete black nothingness, the ability to see anything at all is a massive life-changing improvement!
I honestly never thought I'd live to see the day when an opportunity like this would present itself. I just can't believe it. I am in awe. My mom is smiling somewhere in heaven, this I know for sure! ;-)
He and the nurse are getting all of the details together as to when to make this happen. But it sounds like it's going to require a trip to Dallas for surgery, as well as some follow up visits for rehabilitation. Even though his retina is going to be receiving visual images, his brain must be retrained to interpret them properly. This takes a little work on his part.
The implications of this get me emotional. He hasn't seen my face since I was a little girl. He has no idea what my mom looked like in her final years. He's never seen his grandson or granddaughter. He's never seen Kevin. Ever. He's going to be seeing modern things for the first time in his life like iPhones, computer screens, the internet!
He may actually get to see our children someday. Okay, cue tears....
This is going to be such a life-changing opportunity and I am just bursting with joy thinking about it.
If you could spare any prayers that this all comes to fruition as we hope, we'd really appreciate it. But I had to share the news with you all!