Doctors & Hospitals

Annual Plaquenil Eye Exam

Annual Plaquenil Eye Exam

Living with Lupus, I work with many doctors. From cardiologists and hematologists to orthopedists and rheumatologists, I see them on a regular basis, either quarterly or every other month. I also have one doctor who I see only annually—my ophthalmologist for my annual eye exam required by my long-term use of Plaquenil. What I expected from today’s visit was far from what happened, however…. **



One word to describe my Lupus body today:  Beat

Which habits and rituals did I practice to soothe my Lupus body?

  • Ate a clean diet
  • Breathed fresh air
  • Stayed hydrated
  • Protected delicate skin
  • Smiled and laughed

More details about my physical symptoms:
Today, I had my annual visit to the eye doctor for what I call the “make-sure-Plaquenil-isn’t-blinding-me” exam. Because Plaquenil has the potential to cause ocular toxicity, rare though it may be, we Plaquenil users must be screened for ocular side effects, that begin as vaguely as blurred vision but can end up causing irreversible blindness. The doctor visit is a little different than your average eye exam. In addition to the normal visual acuity and color blindness tests, I have to complete a “10-2” vision field test, where you sit in a dark room, having one eye covered in a pirate patch and a clicker in one hand, lean your head forward to gaze into a dome-like box. Once positioned properly, you’re told to stare into the center light; from there the test begins with lights popping up all over your field of vision within the box in variations from bright to faint, and you’re told to click every time you see a light. All the while keeping your stare straight-forward at the center light. Once you’re done with one eye, you have to repeat the test for the other. This test was never difficult before—a little strenuous, yes, but not difficult. But today, it was stressful, and I actually felt my heart react. I thought I was having another a-fib attack—OMG! The good news is after a few more tests, normal and Plaquenil-specific, my doctor gave my eyes a clean bill of health. No damaging Plaquenil effects. I’m glad this is only an annual event. After three hours in that office, I’m worn out….



One word to describe my Lupus mind today: Stunned

Which habits and rituals did I practice to strengthen my Lupus mind?

  • Managed time and energy
  • Focused on the positive
  • Managed stress response
  • Connected with doctor

More details and thoughts about how I’m feeling emotionally today:
I was taken aback by how difficult the eye tests were today. What I normally look forward to (because I love the doctor and her staff so much) felt like a blow to the stomach. I could feel my stress levels rising as I struggled to keep up with the visual field test and during the doctor’s exam afterwards. For some reason the bright lights shining directly into my retina triggered an adrenaline response. All I could think about was that there must something awful going on. I never experience this before. The only way I could get through it was to keep focused on talking and asking questions along the way while taking breaks, as needed. I’m sure my doctor and her staff thought I was a chatter-box today, but whatever…I was nervous. Thankfully, they were patient with me.



One word to describe my spirit today: Grateful

Which habits and rituals did I practice to nurture my Lupus spirit?

  • Enjoyed sacred space
  • Meditated, prayed, visualized
  • Embraced uncertainty

Thoughts about my spiritual connection and spiritual lessons learned today:
I have not been so eager to meditate as I was today after the eye exam. The minute I got home, before dinner or anything else, I went directly to my sacred space, and went for it. It seems a bit contradictory to rush to meditate, but I felt I had no choice with the anxiety and stress swirling around in my system. Strangely enough, when I closed my eyes, I could still see those darn flashing lights from the exam. Crazy! It took a bit longer than normal, but I was able to connect and calm myself, and I actually had a pleasant evening. Oh, the work it takes to manage this life with Lupus….



Today my meals were:

  • Breakfast: Sausage, sweet potato, and apple casserole
  • Lunch: Green salad topped with sliced grilled chicken breast
  • Dinner: Homemade baked salmon, dill rice, green beans
  • Snacks: Cashews
  • Water: 51 ounces



At least one thing that I’m grateful for today:

  • An amazing ophthalmologist
  • Ability to meditate


**(This post is based on the format of the Lupus Diary that I developed for keeping track of how Lupus affects my body, mind, and spirit, I check-in here once a week to let you know about the more interesting days of my Lupus journey. To learn more about the Lupus Diary, how I developed it, and why I use it, click here.)


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