May 14, 2007 12:51 PM   Subscribe

I think I have a cataract. I'm 30 years old, and I live in China. What now?

So, I had LASIK 5 years ago. There were complications. My eyes are naturally dry, and the surgery seems to have made the condition worse, so that my eyes tend to be red and itchy, unless I take very good care of them, or even when I do sometimes.

So I've gotten used to having bloodshot eyes, and it makes my left eye (the one more prone to redness and irritation) bother me on occasion. This last week, it started to bother me a lot, but I figured it was due to seasonal allergies, or using the computer too much, or something. I used a hot compress, which is about the only thing I can do to make it better outside of living in a cool, clean climate.

But my left eye continued to hurt and the last few days I noticed some occassional extreme sensitivity to light. This is unusual and today when looking in the mirror I noticed a little cloudy spot over the iris, which coincides with an area of blurred vision I had assumed was just caused by general irritation. So I looked online about cataracts, and it seems to likely to be a cataract, despite my relative youth.

Obviously, this is not a qualified diagnosis. But I'm really at a loss what I'm gonna do about it. If it is a cataract, it seems the only way to get rid of it is surgery. Well, I live in China, and I don't have health insurance. I don't have much in the way of savings, so to fly back to America to have surgery would require credit card debt. Surgery in China... uhm. Maybe. Surgery in Hong Kong? Surgery in Thailand? All the websites I found were about cosmetic surgery, so I'm not sure where I fit in.

I guess I'll be seeing a doctor in the next day or two, but in the mean time if anyone can point me to good resources about cataracts, overseas health care, or anything else, it'd be great. I'm kinda freakin out, cause I think of cataracts as something people get in their 70's.
posted by bluejayk to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Diagram of the eye. If you saw a spot over your iris in the mirror, it was not a cataract. Cataracts are the opacification of the lens of the eye; the lens, as you can see clearly here, is behind the iris, not in front of it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:15 PM on May 14, 2007

Response by poster: Hmm, I've got a spot on my cornea then. Now I don't even have a name for my fear.

Thanks for the link.
posted by bluejayk at 1:19 PM on May 14, 2007

I'd recommend going to a doctor ASAP. After reading about corneal ulcers and the dangers therein, I've been paranoid about such things. A spot could indicate such a thing, so get it checked out ASAP.
posted by mikeh at 1:26 PM on May 14, 2007

Yes, a spot can definitely indicate a corneal ulcer. I had a pretty serious one a couple of months back and while I was talking to the doctor on the phone before I came in one of the first things he asked me to look for was a white spot over my iris.

An ulcer is an infection, but they're extremely dangerous and can result in blindness if not treated. Get to some sort of doctor ASAP and start antibiotics if its an ulcer.

If you are right and it's a cataract it's serious, but treatable and waiting a bit won't really make it better/worse as you're going to get a replacement artificial lens implanted in your eye anyway
posted by jourman2 at 1:40 PM on May 14, 2007

More info here. You have two symptoms of an ulcer listed there (sensitivity to light and white spot on the cornea).
posted by jourman2 at 1:42 PM on May 14, 2007

Could be iritis. I had iritis a few years back - painful, but easy to treat.
posted by GuyZero at 2:08 PM on May 14, 2007

In my aged opinion your problem you described is most surely not cataracts. I have cataracts. But they are not bad enough for surgery. I still see very well. And my eye opthamologist says in time I may need to have the cataract removed. No danger to wait.

You should see a doctor to find out what your problem is.
I hope you will report back the diagnosis
posted by JayRwv at 5:49 PM on May 14, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I am going to go see the doctor at my workplace today. She speaks zero English, and I'm not especially confident of her training considering at her age she must have gone to med school just after the Cultural Revolution, but if I get a bad feeling I'll cough up the dough to go to a real doctor.
posted by bluejayk at 8:42 PM on May 14, 2007

Response by poster: Sorry, I'm a jerk for not coming back and explaining what happened, since you all were nice enough to help me.

I did have a corneal ulcer. I did have problems with the doctor at the crappy hospital, but on my second visit, I just happened to run into the senior doctor on staff, a corneal specialist. She checked out my eye, changed my diagnosis completely (first diagnosis was pink eye or something) and gave me good medicine for it.

My eye got better quite quickly, however, there is still a small scar that will probably never go completely away. If I had not waited so long, the doc says it would have gone away entirely. Oh well. On the bright side, the Chinese medicine she gave me to bring down the inflammation seems to have permanently reduced the redness I had been suffering.
posted by bluejayk at 12:56 PM on September 27, 2007

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