Contacts

I was so completely terrified about the whole contact lens thing, so I was more than happy to have a couple of weeks wait between the surgery and the lens arriving. Josh recovered beautifully from the surgery, with very little redness or swelling, and we even managed to integrate the antibiotic/anti-inflammatory drops into our routine three times a day without too much drama.

We had a narrow window of opportunity to get back to Hong Kong while Dave was with us, so the pressure was on to get the contact lens and try it out for a few days before we got the go-ahead from the doctors to go home. I had to chase the eye clinic to get us an appointment and, with a couple of days to go before our flight, we headed out to Westmead and picked up the lens. I wear contact lenses from time to time and we talked about it a lot with Josh beforehand, and I showed him one of mine and let him play with it. He even pretended to put it into my eye. He was pretty excited about it, but we were still really anxious.

I had a brief tutorial on lens care and insertion with the orthoptists while Josh played in the waiting room. When we brought him into the room he was immediately tense and uncooperative and it took three of us holding him down and wrestling for 20 minutes to get the lens in. It was almost impossible to get his eye open and it felt like he was trying to retract his eyeballs as far back into his head as possible! Once it was in he barely noticed it and we were sent home with assurances that we would have lots of support while we remained in Sydney. We also knew we would have to take the lens out before our flight…

One of the potential issues with this type of lens is the fit. It’s custom made based on the measurements taken while Josh was under anaesthetic, but while you’re asleep your eye muscles are relaxed so it’s difficult to get a completely accurate measurement. We had to keep the lens in for a few days and look for any signs of poor fit or irritation. He still had stitches in so infection was also a risk. For 48 hours we were anxiously watching his eyes, checking to see if the lens was still in every hour, watching him anytime he rubbed his eyes, it was nerve-wracking! An incorrect fit would have meant another two weeks in Sydney while we waited for a new one, but thankfully Josh was fine, and so was the lens. We even started to notice him noticing things, like leaves on trees and texture on walls – things he’d never seen clearly before.

We had our final visit with the PO the day before we were due to fly home, and while his vision was still really poor (20/200 or 6/60) she was really happy with it all: a huge relief! She did ask me to take the lens out while we were there, just to make sure I could. Then we tried to put it back in and after twenty minutes of screaming and thrashing about I decided to leave it out. The doctor was confident in my technique, we were simply having a compliance issue, a big one, just as I had feared. He has glasses with a ridiculously thick lens on the right aphakic side that he can wear when the contact is out so that’s how he travelled home. Once we were back in Hong Kong, in our comfort zone, with some fairly substantial bribes on hand, it was a lot easier to convince Josh to stay calm and let us try putting the lens in. We also waited until he decided he was ready and when we did it successfully for the first time without fuss, there were high 5’s all round, and just a little bit of shock from all of us that we managed it! We have to take it out weekly for cleaning, and anytime he’s swimming or on a plane (because of the dry air) but so far that’s proven to be far easier than we anticipated. We only have one lens, so I’m expecting to lose it any day now, but apart from that it’s all feeling pretty manageable.

Now we wait to see if any of it has made a difference to his sight…

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