Jeff Middlebrook: I’m in a Catch-22 position |

Jeff Middlebrook: I’m in a Catch-22 position

In May and again in June I had radical eye surgeries (both eyes two weeks apart) in a last-ditch effort to save my eyesight due to severe advanced glaucoma.

My ophthalmologist who performed the delicate surgeries is Dr. Jeffrey Liu in Mountain View. He was the first to diagnose my glaucoma back in 2016 which is why I put my eyesight in his very capable hands.

The jury is out whether or not this radical surgery will stop the advance of my glaucoma. Hopefully it does because I have only 7% of my retinal optic nerve surfaces remaining.

Now glaucoma tends to be hereditary which makes no sense in my case as nobody in my maternal or paternal families have ever had glaucoma. My dad is 95 and he has near-perfect eyes. So I queried Dr. Liu about how it is I developed glaucoma, and that at age 70 I’m a breath away from blindness. When he did an extensive medical history on me and found out I took Prednisone pills every winter for decades because my asthma always spirals into horrible bronchitis, and Prednisone usually dampens the symptoms, Dr. Liu said “Bingo!” It turns out that steroids used frequently for long periods can damage the eyes, leading to excessively high chronic eye pressures which eat away at the retinal optic nerve surfaces. Why didn’t any doctor for 30+ years tell me that Prednisone could ruin my eyes?

Well, fast forward to now during this virus hysteria and the issues of masks. Anyone who has asthma knows that wearing masks for too long can trigger an asthma attack. It’s not an oxygen issue, rather it’s a build up of CO2 caused by masks. So here I am never wearing a mask when out and about except to run into a store for a few quick minutes or to conduct business so that I can refrain from over-using my inhalers, especially my steroidal inhaler “Symbicort.” Dr. Liu warned me to use my Symbicort sparingly because of my advanced glaucoma and because the radical surgery isn’t fool-proof for curtailing the advance of glaucoma.

So I’m in a catch-22 position. Do I bow down to the Draconian demands to wear a mask everywhere and sacrifice my eyesight, or do I put my eyes ahead of the mask insanity? Need I tell you my choice? I’m in the highest risk group for the virus and it’s near impossible for me to be asymptomatic, so the odds that I could be infected and not know it and pass it to others are worse than the odds to win the lotto! My eyes come first, period!

Jeff Middlebrook lives in Truckee.

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