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Non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) attack

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

Michael, 62

Where are you from?


Where do you live now?

Modesto, California

Tell me about yourself.

I work as a plumbing contractor in San Francisco Bay Area. I moved to SF at the age of six in1965 to the Haight Ashbury district from England. I witnessed the summer of love in all its glory. My wife, Cathy, and I celebrated our 25th anniversary last May.

A picture of Michael, standing in his home, smiling and staring right at the camera. Wearing a black shirt, and black rimmed eye glasses.

What's your eye story?

I had a Non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) attack in my right eye about three years ago. My right eye went blurry at work one morning and that was that. I went to the best eye doc in SF. He said sorry, no cure. About a year later, I had another attack in my left eye. Fortunately, that one wasn’t as bad and I was able to pass my driver’s license renewal test. The right eye is like getting rain on your windshield but your wipers don’t work. The left eye is a bit weaker than before but still ok to operate a car safely.

What has been the most challenging thing mentally?

I was depressed for a short period. I was in the middle of a big plumbing project and just dove back in, after taking a week off, to let my brain adjust to the vision being different. I do it all myself and I work really hard so it was kind of a blessing to have a deadline. In hindsight, I should have taken more time off. Mentally, the wind has been taken out of my sails a bit.

What has been the most challenging thing physically?

I don’t suffer much physically. I have trouble with bright sunlight and fluorescent lights getting to me. I walked into a few walls and closed doors at first. I can’t concentrate as well as before.

Where are you now in your recovery?

I'm doing well. Even if my other eye goes blurry I will survive. Things could be much worse. I have a wonderful wife which is a total blessing. After seeing some very good friends lose their life to cancer and other diseases I feel I don’t have any problems. Not drinking alcohol for the last ten years has helped me be able to do a very physical and well-paying job which I love.

[Edited for clarity by @jacobfromutah]

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