If I had been asked to write this before my senior year, I would have said I was terrified of eyeballs. They were these mystical, fragile blobbies that are essential to both animals for sight and owners for connecting to their pets. The stress borne of the consequences if you 'mess those up' was hugely heavy to me: eyeballs were tiny face booby-traps waiting to explode (literally!), and I did not want to risk getting close to them. So, when I prepared to brave my Ophthalmology Service clinical rotation, I wished with all my wishing power… to not puke.
Then, I was enlightened: eyeballs are totally awesome!!
Eyes are actually these amazing, firm structures that might be windows to the soul but are definitely windows to the body. You can see many systemic (whole body) diseases show up in the eyes, such as diabetes and fungal infections -sometimes before you even see any other changes!
Anyone who has seen my miniature artwork knows I am a lover of teeny tiny things. So, when I got to belly-up to an ophthalmology surgical table, lean my own eyes to the microscope, and assist (I was a lavaging specialist!) for a corneal pedicle graft, it was simply amazing. The suture used was nearly too tiny to see with the naked eye, and the doctor used teeny tiny scissors to snip out a teeny tiny piece of cornea (covering of the front most part of the eye) and place it over a deep wound in the cornea called a descemetocele, just like a skin graft. It was like shaving a layer off a firm bouncy ball, and not the fragile jelly blob I was so sure were eyes.
Even with how amazing that surgery was to experience, what has really stuck with me was just how easy it is to do a full eye exam. The ophthalmology vocabulary and acronyms are avane gar, but the root basics of the medicine itself are much more realistic to learn and retain than I expected. Eyes are also relatively similar among numerous species-much more so than I ever realized. After heading on to my Primary Care and Exotic Animal Service clinical rotation, I was able to evaluate the eyes of an Amazon Grey Parrot, Dutch Rabbit, and even helped identify corneal ulcers in a Crested Gecko -so cool!
Time to start saving up for a TonoVet!
P.S. Starting this August, you will get to read two posts from me each month! So, please be sure to check back for more Adulting in Veterinary School topics and exciting, real stories from my clinical rotations. As always, thank you for allowing me to share my story with you.