Saturday, June 23, 2012

Diary of a Left-Eye Shooter

I'm miserable. Yesterday, I had a laser procedure performed on my bionic eye. Apparently, there were some problems which have developed in and around the synthetic lens implant I've been sporting for a while now and my eye doctor decided some well-aimed bursts with a laser beam could fix them. Today, my eye hurts, really hurts, and is very light sensitive. It's also quite red and I look like I have a black eye.

Bionic eye, you might ask?

Yeah, that's what I call it.

About ten years ago I had a cataract removed from my right eye. It wasn't your run-of-the-mill cataract. It was a cataract that grew so big, so thick, so tough, it led to me being blind in that eye. As a result, I was half-blind for about a decade. All I could "see" with my right eye was some hazy, dark grayish light and shadow. That was it. Nothing else. Still, throughout my half-blind years, which also meant I had very poor depth perception and 3-D glasses simply wouldn't work for me, I worked regularly as a photographer and videographer. This meant using my left eye as my shooting eye. That didn't present a problem shooting with an SLR still camera but most video cameras were ergonomically designed for right-eye shooting. Using my left eye with most professional video cameras was cumbersome and awkward to say the least, especially since most pro vidcams had their viewfinders on the left side of the camera's body.

My cataract was of a type called a "traumatic cataract."  It was caused by an injury when I was a kid; an injury that put me in the hospital for over a week, had me wearing patches over both eyes for about a month or so, then a patch over one eye for about a year, and then wearing sunglasses for another year. I was the coolest kid in 4th Grade wearing shades to school each day.

Later, in my late teens, the cataract began forming. That was during the draft-driven Vietnam War Era. My cataract almost kept me out of the military. Almost.

My cataract continued growing until, eventually, in my late 30s or early 40s, it blinded my right eye. The doctors didn't want to attempt removing the cataract because of the risk of infection to my optic nerve which had a fair chance of leaving me completely blind. Then, about ten years ago, the doctors told me new technologies meant they could (fairly) safely remove the cataract and install a synthetic lens. And that's what they did... except one of those new technologies didn't quite work as planned. During the surgical procedure, one where I remained awake throughout, the surgeon, after almost two hours of torturing my eye, told me the new technology wasn't making much of a dent in the cataract and she'd have to remove it "the old fashioned way."

"With a pick and shovel?" I asked.

"Something like that," the surgeon told me.

In total, the surgery lasted almost four hours. Finally, my cataractasaurus was defeated, broken into manageable pieces, and removed with a vacuum device of some sort. Then, the bionic lens was installed. Interestingly, the procedure left me with double vision because, while I was blind in that eye, the muscles controlling my right eyeball had atrophied and that meant I was permanently looking to the right with that eye.  There was talk of fitting me with some sort of prism for that eye but then, a couple of weeks later, my double-vision suddenly and magically self-corrected. I'm also happy to report that no infection in my optic nerve resulted from the "old fashioned" surgery.

Suddenly, I was back in business as a two-eyed shooter! The only negative result of my bionic eye, if you could call it a negative result, is I see with a slightly bluish color cast with that eye. For some reason, though, I had become so accustomed to shooting with my left eye that I continued doing so. I'm still, in fact, a left-eye shooter. Don't ask my why but, for some reason, going back to shooting with my right eye was very difficult so I simply said, "Screw it!" and kept on shooting with my left eye.

These days, there doesn't seem to be any problems associated with shooting with one's left eye. There aren't any advantages I can think of either. Today, many video cameras, certainly the smaller, HD cameras, aren't right-eyed-centric in their ergonomic design. If they were, I probably would have forced myself to go back to shooting with my right eye. I've yet to have anyone notice that I'm a left-eyed shooter, leastwise no one has ever mentioned it. By "anyone" I mean other photographers or videographers.

Anyway, time to pop another Vicodin for the pain in my eye so I guess I'll log off now. Have a great weekend everyone!

The pretty and not-really-dead girl lying on the autopsy table at the top is Sasha. It's a behind-the-scenes photo I snapped a few years ago while working on a movie set in the morgue of an abandoned hospital in East Los Angeles.


Nadja said...

What a 'story'.
Now I admire you even more.
I hope it gets better soon.

Anonymous said...

Hope the pain subsides and your eye is fine!

Gauguin7 said...

Man I hear you.

I developed a couple of tears in my right retina and a multitude of small holes in both. Had the laser treatment to spot weld them and it felt like a root canal in my eyes.

Hope you feel better soon!

jimmyd said...

@Guaguin7: I was trying to figure out how to explain to people what my eye felt like for a few days after the laser procedure and "a root canal in my eye" is a great way to describe it. It's okay now and feels normal but for two days it hurt like hell and the eye was incredibly sensitive to light. On Saturday, I fashioned an eye patch to wear over it just so no light hit it. Even with my eye closed I couldn't stand any amount of light... when I went outside in the daytime, my eye felt like a vampire caught in sunlight.