I am a 57-year-old white American male infected with Hepatitis C. I am involved in a controlled medical research study by Roche Pharmaceuticals of an experimental Polymerase Inhibitor (RO5024048 also known as RG7128) drug therapy for the virus. This document is the story of my illness and the experience of treatment. My lovely and pretty damn wonderful wife will be contributing her take on the experience as well.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Seeing More Clearly After Treatment

Vision changes are a big part of the side effects of both standard treatment and several of the additional drugs either approved (boceprevir, telaprevir) or under study for treating Hepatitis C (RO5024048 RG7128). They can include blurry vision, changes in the strength of your vision, sparkles or light shows within or at the edge of your visual field and worst of all macular degeneration. The effects can vary in intensity during the course of treatment. Most of the visual side effects reverse after treatment is ended save for macular degeneration, which is permanent. In my case, the effects seem to be slowly reversing themselves.

In this post (about 6 paragraphs down) there is a description of the onset of the visual side effects when treatment began. At the time the primary effect seemed to be a reduction in my ability to focus on things that were close-up in my visual field. I lost most of my natural monocular vision in which the left eye focused up close the right eye focused at a distance. It eventually progressed to the point that, at the end of treatment, there was little difference between the two eyes. The left still focused a touch better close up and the right a touch better at a distance, but there was no longer a significant difference.

There was also some variation in the strength of vision. It seemed that from month to month there were variations in the amount of short sightedness I was victim to. Sometimes, it seemed my glasses were not nearly strong enough and other times they were far too strong. I took to not wearing them most of the time and carrying around reading glasses for when there was a need to focus closely (for those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ichiban Kan the Japanese discount store has reading glasses for $1.50 per pair; and stylin ones at that). I decided not to get new glasses or even try to determine my prescription until the treatment was over.

Several months after I had been dropped from the experimental study and was on the standard treatment, I began to notice that there were sparkles in my visual field. They were not large nor were they particularly intrusive, but they were apparent when I wasn’t focusing on a specific area. They were also apparent at the edges of the visual field, particularly in low light. I kept thinking that I saw something out of the corner of my eye and when I tried to turn and focus on it, there was never anything there. It took a while to realize that it was due to the sparklies and not to flies, birds, mice, rain, ghosts or any of the other things that appear in the corners of your vision.

Now that 9 weeks have passed since finishing the interferon and Ribavirin treatment, there has been some reversal of the visual side effects. The sparklies in the visual field and at the corners of my eyes are mostly gone. They still appear when I am very tired, but they may have always done that and I wouldn’t know it given the state of my memory. The variations in my strength of vision have stabilized as well. There are no longer times when I cannot wear glasses because they make my eyes hurt. Perhaps it is time to visit the eye doctor and get a new prescription and even new glasses (Costco here we come). There has been no change in the loss of monocular vision. My two eyes remain slightly different, but the old ability to read with the left eye and focus long-distance with the right seems to be gone permanently.

The side effect of the eyes getting tired rapidly during reading and watching a movie, TV or computer screen has also begun to reverse. So much so that this past weekend my lovely wife and I were able to take in two movies in two days. These were not “films” either with long static takes of characters talking or meditative pans across beautiful scenery. These were eye-taxing action films with rapid changes in focus, explosions, chase scenes and all the things you watch movies on the big screen for. Yes, we saw “Cowboys and Aliens” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” - two brilliant examples of all that is right in Hollywood filmmaking. At least with Hep C, the treatment doesn’t make apes smarter and people dead. We got that going for us…

1 comment:

  1. This treatment can be effective in some people but not all so the best is consulting with the doctor which is the ideal treatment for each person.