Tuesday, December 30, 2008



If I were doing a report for my first grade class, I would start it out like this:

"My mom has the most amazing eyeballs!"

(That's an homage to Aubrey's presentation in case you missed it.)

Alright, I wasn't in first grade when my mom had her first cornea transplants -- I think I was in 6th grade or something -- but that's right, folks, my mom has someone else's corneas in her eyeballs.

That's the creepy part. But it's also amazing.

Growing up, I remember looking into my mom's eyes and being able to see the little ring of stitches -- and, later, scars -- around the edges of her eyes. I always thought of the rings as misplaced halos. I never told her that, but look at what I saw (her eyes are also brown, so this photo accurately re-creates my experience):

Isn't it ethereal?

She -- and her sister, Laurie -- had their corneas transplanted about 25 years ago when the technology was fairly new. But evidently that's about how long the transplants last.

So, here's what the doctors did again to one of Mom's eyes yesterday:

They implanted a lens and transplanted a cornea. They also did cataract removal. Isn't that absolutely amazing?

Why is the cornea so important?
I'm no expert, so I'll pass on what our friends at the National Eye Institute have to say:

Although the cornea is clear and seems to lack substance, it is actually a highly organized group of cells and proteins. Unlike most tissues in the body, the cornea contains no blood vessels to nourish or protect it against infection. Instead, the cornea receives its nourishment from the tears and aqueous humor that fills the chamber behind it. The cornea must remain transparent to refract light properly, and the presence of even the tiniest blood vessels can interfere with this process. To see well, all layers of the cornea must be free of any cloudy or opaque areas.

Its two main functions?

1 - It helps to shield the rest of the eye from germs, dust, and other harmful matter. The cornea shares this protective task with the eyelids, the eye socket, tears, and the sclera, or white part of the eye.

2 - The cornea acts as the eye's outermost lens. It functions like a window that controls and focuses the entry of light into the eye. The cornea contributes between 65-75 percent of the eye's total focusing power.

Considering all that, how's Mom doing?
I spoke with her on the phone last night and she said she had a headache (which she's had all week) and some pain. It didn't help that the light hurt her eyes when she tried to look at the flowers we sent her. (Uh, sorry, Mom.)

Other than that, she's hoping for full recovery. Soon. Which, if you know her, is SO my mom -- she's planning on working from home today, since the doctor says she can't drive for 24 hours. Doesn't that seem too short a time? Again, amazing.

She's doing great so far, and it sounds like there aren't many risks involved. Let's hope that's the case. I need her to keep reading my blog.


KUrlie said...

Big Share - you are always amazing to me! Get well soon and Happy New Year:)

xo, Karen

Anonymous said...

Anj: What excellent information for us all; you are a wonderful researcher. I didn't know any of that and am just a little embarrassed that I don't, since I have had all the work done. As you know, and as I always say, "I just Trust My Docs to do what is best" and leave the details to them. Is that like burying yur head??
Ms. KUrlie...thank you and by the way, we watched Luther College Christmas last week and thought of you; it was excellent. XO to you.
Love, Mom/Big Share

Dori said...

Wow! This is amazing! My mom reminded me today that she went to school with your mom! :) Thanks for sharing your blog...I look forward to lots of reading..I love blogs with no literary merit! hehe I'm sure there is much here though..Look what I learned already...Cornea transplants awesome!

Anonymous said...

So, Dori...this is so interesting. Please share with me.
who is your mom?
Big Share aka Anj's mom

anjie said...

Hey Mom,

Dori said her mom's name was Lorene Hagan and she went to Stadium. Ring a bell?