Hole In The Bucket? No, In The Retina.
It would be good to know information that could save someone’s sight, right? Yours or someone you know? Sight in my left eye was, in fact, saved by the kindness of a blogger describing the symptoms of a detached retina.
I’m paying it forward.
A detached retina happens when the tissue at the back of the eye separates from underlying structures. Left untreated, it can cause blindness.
My left retina detached about eight years ago. Eric was out of town. While teaching a class on a Thursday evening, I noticed a gel-like substance oozing into the visual field of my left eye.
There was no warning, no sudden burst of floaters in my eye. No pain. No other symptoms.
I finished teaching the class, didn’t mention it to anyone, and went to bed that evening wondering what in the heck was going on. It’s interesting — without pain or discomfort, a physical symptom can seem less urgent. The change in my eye didn’t feel like an emergency.
The next morning, the gel-like substance had not gone away. In a leisurely way, after taking care of a few “must do’s” I began to Goggle my symptoms.
But how do you google something so weird? I think I finally looked up something about gel oozing into my visual field, and a blog came up, describing exactly what was going on.
The blogger said that if the symptoms he was describing matched mine, I should stop reading and call my eye doctor immediately.
Which I did.
When I described the symptoms to the optical assistant she said, “I will talk to the doctor right now. Please keep your phone line open, because I’m going to call you right back in a few minutes.”
Everything that needed to happen to save my eye began to unfold quickly and efficiently. I wasted no time getting to my emergency appointment with Dr. Park, a retinal specialist.
After the exam, Dr. Park turned me over to the paperwork people. He said he would have dinner with his family and come back to the hospital to do the operation that evening.
The surgery was successful. Part of the procedure was to place a gas bubble in my eye, which keeps the retina in place while it heals. Instructions were to keep my head upright and tilted to the right — for an entire week — to keep the gas bubble in the correct position, so the retina would be held in place while it healed.
I walked, ate and slept with my head tilted.
The nurses encouraged me to count my lucky stars about my assigned head position, since it is not uncommon to be face down for a week to keep the bubble in place after surgery! At least I could prop my head on pillows and watch movies.
Other Things To Know…
A retinal detachment can start with a retinal tear or hole and is not detectable in a regular eye exam. (Only in a retinal exam by a specialist.)
There are generally no visual symptoms, although sometimes you’ll see more floaters.
If you’re extremely nearsighted, you’re at higher risk.
Once you’ve had a retinal detachment in one eye, the specialist keeps watch on the other one, because the likelihood of the same thing happening in the second eye is high.
A couple weeks ago, during my yearly retinal exam with Dr. Park, he found a tear in the retina of my other eye. The next day, he donned a headset and directed a tiny laser beam through my pupil to spot-weld the tear closed and prevent the retina from detaching.
I’m so thankful.
I thought you should know, in case the information could come in handy for you or someone you love.
Terri’s first book, 100 Words: Small Servings of Whimsy and Wisdom to Calm the Mind and Nourish the Heart is available from Amazon.