If your eye be single . . .

December 16th, 2017

Here’s a logo I designed when I was free-lancing at the very beginning of my graphic design career back in the 70’s. Seems like it fits here. It’s in the Our Lives Together book, mentioned at right.

I’d been saying to Anne that I really do need to get an appointment with an ophthalmologist. It was the sense of growing floaters and sometimes tiny black dots moving around somewhere out in space in front of me. Then Wednesday morning of this week, driving to meet a friend for coffee, it became clear. A floater had become a curtain, completely occluding the left side of vision in my right eye. More like an iceberg, really, sometimes white, sometimes dark, and moving, blocking not a quarter but a half and even three-quarters of vision in that eye. Weird! I mentioned it to Mike and he warned me to get it looked at right away.

So, without appointment, I drove to my primary care doctor with appeal for a quick visit. I was instructed to read the eye chart. I couldn’t even see the “E”!

Another appointment was made to see an ophthalmologist that afternoon.

Meantime, in the studio I had a portrait commission going with a Christmas due date in Chattanooga. Between appointments I kept that ship plowing on, icebergs or no.

The ophthalmologist dilated my pupils, put a Star Wars-esque mega-microscope between us and after close inspection announced, “detached retina, we’ll get you to a surgeon right away.”

Great! A name. There’s something comforting about that. It takes the mystery out of it and puts one back into the fellowship of humanity. It’s much less amorphous than, “Hey, I’ve got something like Antartica in my eye floating off its base and threatening to take over half the world.”

The paperwork said, “urgent.” I drove across town and squeezed in another unscheduled appointment, the third that day, this with a surgeon.

That was a trip too, eyes dilated, wearing a double pair of sunglasses, trying to find a place I’d never been.

The surgeon confirmed it, retina on the loose, and if allowed to go much farther it’d be beyond repair. He scheduled me for an out-patient operation the next morning. At 5:00 a.m.!

I came home and told Anne all that had happened, enjoying, by the way, the wonderful light in the kitchen, so bright, with everything so all the more beautiful, my pupils still wide-eyed.

I heard a quote on the radio just that day. Christian scholar C.S. Lewis once said, “I believe in Christianity like I believe in the sun . . . not because I see it, but because by it I can see everything else.” Brilliant. And my experience exactly. But back to the story.

The next morning I had the operation. Truth is, I hardly knew it, being sedated into a sort of la-la land. Nor had there been any anxiety at all, not since I knew the name (or even before, really).

I will say this: I am extremely grateful for medical science, and for medicare, and to be living in a place and time where these are available. I considered that if my grandfather had experienced the same thing the curtain would have closed altogether and the eye would be lost, permanently.

Me, I need that eye, I’m a painter. Okay, it’s just as true with non-painters. But I did notice when I came home from the operation and dutifully returned to the studio and the portrait project that my depth perception was severely affected. With the right eye all bandaged up I had a hard time knowing when the brush was hitting the palette, or the painting. It took real concentration to get the detail.

Note: All this happened, from the noticing something was wrong to getting it surgically dealt with, within 24 hours. And, the progress on the painting was hardly affected, even with it being highly visual work. You know I’m grateful . . . for the system . . . for all the doctors and their training. . . and of course the Creator of the eye itself and the Scheduler of all my hours.

Now, two days later, my bandages are off, the portrait commission is finished and, just like any day, I’m moving onto next things.

For the while, however, there’s still no vision in the right eye. All I get are sensations of color. Night driving (probably not recommended) is an absolute light show, again, quite wonderful if you look at it that way. That’s due to the gas bubble that’s in the eye helping the healing process. It’s more like looking though a marble of Vaseline and would be worrisome if I weren’t told to expect it, for about two months.

Meantime I depend on my one good eye. It’s sorta good, anyway; after 74 years it’s had its own history. I’m also thinking about that saying of Jesus, “If your eye be single, your whole body will be full of light.”* I know it’s metaphorical for a much larger truth, but this experience has given me a new appreciation for light itself, and the special organ we have to take it in.

For now, it’s a single eye I’m depending on. I want to keep this body full of light.

Or at least that’s my prayer.


*Matthew 6:22


Write a comment
  1. Jody Dec 16, 2017
    10:27 am

    Hyatt…I almost deleted your post without reading it…after all it’s the holidays and I have plenty of other things to do…I am glad I didn’t …because I would have missed an opportunity to pray for a friend…and what better things to have on my to do list than that…praying for rapid healing and better sight than before.

  2. Judie Hess Dec 16, 2017
    10:27 am

    Sorry you had to go through all this, but wonderful to see how the Lord opened the doors quickly for you to get the help you needed. Trusting Him to bring complete healing in your vision.
    Ed, has surgery coming up for a benign mass on his pituitary gland that is pressing on his optic nerve. Surgery scheduled for January 23. A long, but interesting story on how God works things out for his children.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours………

  3. Paul Merrill Dec 16, 2017
    10:46 am

    I, too, am glad for modern medical care – and medicare, as they have benefitted your life (and countless others).

    I remember back in 1994, when I was considering Dr. Key’s eye surgery, I told you that as a graphic designer, my eyes were pretty important to me. You replied, “Well, eyes are important to nearly everyone.”

  4. Jack Popjes Dec 16, 2017
    11:27 am

    Thanks for this testimonial, Hyatt. A good time to re-read John Milton’s Sonnet 9, When I consider how my light is spent . . .
    I just prayed for you, first of all thanking God that you live in a society where these things are fixable, and that God orchestrated the discovery and the schedule, and, presumably, that you have the money to pay for all this.

    On a similar note, we were sent home on our first furlough from Brazil six months early because our financial support was so low we were borrowing money from other missionaries to buy groceries. We got home in July, took 4-your-old Cheryl to see the ophthalmologist who immediately changed her glasses prescription, and covered her good eye. “Had she been left like this for another four months, she would have lost sight in that eye permanently,” was his professional opinion. So, because of our poverty, Cheryl’s eye was saved. God works in marvelous ways His wonders to perform.


  5. Randy L Mosten Dec 16, 2017
    2:12 pm

    So thankful for the blessings in healthcare we share. And the Creator who looks after our every need. We just have to trust in Him.

  6. Norm Dec 16, 2017
    4:31 pm

    So thankful this all “worked together” for good, Hyatt, and you caught the detachment just in time. I lived with an occluded eye for nearly a year after my Guillain Barre Syndrome onset, which left me with severe double vision. After eye surgery at SC to resolve, I remember sitting and gazing with “stereo” vision once again. My, how I’d missed that! We take such for granted at times, don’t we? Getting peripheral back, dismissing the lack of dimension and depth, and taking in color and beauty again was sheer bliss. Blessed Christmas gift for you to get such care with ingenious timing!

  7. Mabel Pittman Dec 16, 2017
    8:37 pm

    What a time you’ve had! Funny thing……I was burdened more than usual to pray for you and Anne …….your mom was always so faithful to almost weekly email with me…..I remember when she lost her eyesight, she just kept on trying to keep in touch……as always, she decided she wasn’t quitting….she told me to just think about a correct letter that would be next to the one she typed and I would be able to decipher what she was trying to communicate…..funny thing-it worked. 😂
    You know, Ed has macular degeneration in both eyes……talk about the wonders of modern medicine! They cannot heal this, but he gets monthly shots in both eyes to maintain his vision…..not perfect….but 10 years ago, he would be blind by this time…..he had his sixth spinal surgery two weeks ago and is in healing mode……three months of no bending, twisting, or lifting……of course, he hates not being able to help vacuum, etc…..🤣……all these things just remind us that God is really a great and marvelous Creator……with perfect personal care for us all.

  8. Alison Dec 17, 2017
    6:35 pm

    This is a marvelous story, told in a marvelous manner. Besides prayer for your recovery over these next many weeks, I praise God for how He has led you along so effectively to your diagnosis, and with such grace. Among other things, your story compels me to get that eye re-exam I’ve been thinking about scheduling for over a year now…Meanwhile, paint on, Hyatt!

  9. Lisa Carden Dec 17, 2017
    11:33 pm

    Thankful you dealt with your detached retina quickly.

  10. carmen Dec 18, 2017
    6:47 am

    Hyatt, wow, timing is so important! Thank God the sequence of doctor events fell into place perfectly and you are on the mend. Light is definately a gift. Keep on seeing and painting.

  11. Pat Dec 19, 2017
    11:19 am

    Praising God with you for his provision and care over your life. He is so faithful! Praying for your continued healing!

  12. Rick J. Delanty Jan 4, 2018
    12:40 pm

    The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
    Psalms 19:8

    Hyatt, I am most taken by your story. I had hand surgery on both hands, and spent more time mentally on this than you have. I appreciate most your saying that you experienced “not a lot of anxiety.” I believe that is because you know the Lord’s commandments, and understand the world through His lens, not your own. Perhaps He provided means for healing so quickly because you long to have your vision be like His. I am most grateful for your returning sight, and the opportunity for you to continue to create work that blesses Him, with the vision He provided to you.

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