Consider this a public service announcement and not at all a "Pity Party."
Often we attribute our vision problems to things like cataracts or astigmatism of the eye lens but I have just had a major revelation about a condition that could affect up to 40% of the population (but no one knows for sure because it may be going undetected or unreported).
The condition is called Map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy.
I recently went in for cataract surgery and as part of the evaluation I was told (by two different ophthalmologist in the last year) that I have this condition. Now neither really elaborated on it, so I thought little about it.
I had my cataract removed about a week ago. The web tells us what to expect and of course my expectation was that I would see far more clearly withing even hours of the surgery, though a couple of days is more typical.
Four days into recovery and I was frightened that something had gone horribly wrong. My vision especially at night was little batter than it was before the cataract was removed!
A call to the doctor did not make me feel a lot better, but he said to give it a few more days until my followup.
During the follow-up, he studied me and said that the Map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy was likely aggravated by the surgery and that it would probably smooth out a bit given time, but that he thought that the condition would have to be treated by polishing the cornea or some other means (the good news here is that he believes that my vision can be improved).
Now this is the most important point. Because my mom has glaucoma, I go to the optometrist annually and in all the decades of going not one of them has mentioned that I have Map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy. Both ophthalmologist though mentioned this to me (though neither of them at the time really explained how this could be a major part of my vision problems but that is because these guys are pragmatist that just work though it one step at a time).
So, why am I posting this:
My belief is that amateur astronomers put more demands on eye site than almost anyone else. A point source like a bright star is an incredibly revealing target. Any flaw in the vision at all will turn it into something less than a perfect point.
I hear this all the time and especially for people using big exit pupils.. We (and I am guilty of this as well) often suggest that this is just the astigmatism in the eye, but I now know, and I am now sharing with all of you another highly likely cause of spikey stars, and one that might be possible to fix!
If your optometrist has given you glasses with astigmatism correction but you still see stars or spikes or small halos around bright stars, you could have this condition. Maybe your optometrist is better than mine have been (I have seen two in the last 3 years) then you may want to consider seeing an eye MD to have them check you for this condition and treat you for it if you do!
I am currently wearing a Bandage contact provide by my doctor and the difference was immediately obvious but he says that I can expect some improvement over about two weeks of wearing the contact, at which point he will determine the next course of treatment but he has given me some meaningful amount of hope that there are still major improvements that can be made to my vision.
The funny thing is that the estimates for the number of people that have this condition range from as low as 2% to has high as 40%. My bet is that the number is closer to 40% and that most people do not apply their vision to the kind of use that we do and that often it goes undetected, or un-reported (by the optometrist) and is only really diagnosed when an MD doing pre-cataract surgery sees it and tells people about it.
So this is a public service announcement to CN readers. Even if you wear glasses, if you have any spiking around headlights or when viewing bright stars at low power, rather than go to an optometrist on your next eye exam, consider going to an ophthalmologist instead on a one time basis to have the look for Map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy and if you have it, see about getting it treated. This is a medical condition and it is likely that your insurance will pay for it. The doctor says that it is in-office (no need to go to a surgical center where prices are highly inflated and a broken toenail costs $5000).
This concludes the public service announcement.
Stay tuned to this channel for a followup on the end result. I will report in time how much improvement was achieved but I now know that the Map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy was perhaps degrading my vision as much as the cataract was and I am disappointed that the optometrist never identified this condition to me. Any you may be experiencing the same thing.
Again, this is NOT a pity party. I was shocked to find that this condition exists and since I had never heard of it, my thinking was that most CN readers never have either, and being armed with the knowledge that the condition exists and knowing the symptoms, the readers of this post can be aware that it does, but more importantly that treatments exist that may improve your vision.
Edited by Eddgie, 07 January 2017 - 11:19 AM.