Doctor, My Eyes!
Hi All! Today I’m taking a break from my usual job as Translator for the Technology Impaired, to share an “eye opening” story with my AskBob readers. If you’ve noticed I haven’t been publishing as regularly as usual lately, read on to see the reason for that. I think you’ll be glad you did...
I Can See Clearly Now, Almost
Since my teen years I’ve needed fairly strong corrective lenses. And on top of that, I have very sensitive eyes. Due to some allergies and chemical sensitivities, my eyes are often red and irritated. I’ve always had a nagging fear of going blind. And something that happened recently reinforced that feeling.
With apologies to Jackson Browne and Johhny Nash, let me tell you what’s been going on with my eyes. About six weeks ago, I noticed that the vision in my LEFT eye was somewhat blurry, and the field of vision seemed a bit darker than the other eye. I was having trouble reading from my computer screen. Not good, if you spend a lot of time in the digital world.
I’ve had a wrinkle or “pucker” in the retina of my RIGHT eye for several years, which causes some wavy distortion. Eye doctors call it an “epiretinal membrane”, which apparently can happen if you breathe air. I’ve read that being near-sighted and using a computer for many years can contribute, but it’s something that commonly happens as one ages.
My brain had learned to mostly ignore the problem with my right eye, and rely on the good vision in the left. But with the suddenly diminished vision in the left eye, words on paper or the screen became a jumble. So I went to my regular eye doctor.
“Doctor, my eyes! Tell me what is wrong. Was I unwise to leave them open for so long?” He did some scans of my eye. Based on those results, he said it looked like I was developing a problem with the retina in the left eye, and advised me to see a retina specialist. I ended up seeing three retina specialists, each advising me to go forward in different directions. One doctor said I had minor cataracts in both eyes, which would need surgical repair prior to the two recommended retina surgeries. Four eye surgeries, yikes! Another doctor advised going ahead with retina surgery on the left eye ASAP, and considering the other issues down the road. Yeah, let’s do that.
So on Tuesday this week, I had surgery to perform an “epiretinal membrane peel” in the left eye. The procedure took only 15-20 minutes under mild anesthesia, and was painless. The surgery went fine. I went back to the doc the next day to have the bandage removed, and was surprised that I couldn't see anything but a huge blur in my left eye. I was told that's because there is an air bubble placed inside the eye, which helps it heal. The bubble is getting smaller each day, and should be gone in a week or so. I’m fortunate that I had to remain face-down for just one day. Some eye surgeries require you to do so for a week or longer!
My vision will slowly improve over the next couple weeks, but I can already tell that it will be an improvement over what it was. Eye surgery seems miraculous to me. I didn’t know beforehand how the surgery would be done. Would it involve a scalpel? A laser? Turns out neither of those was used. If you’re curious, watch this video of how my type of retina surgery was done. I’m just glad I watched that AFTER my procedure.
One side benefit of this surgery is that in order to repair the retina, a vitrectomy (removal of the fluid inside the eye) is done. If you have any “floaters” in your eye (which I did) they will be eliminated. Floaters can be annoying, but can also cause problems with vision. So I’m doubly glad I had this done. My doctor isn’t sure if surgery on the right eye will be beneficial, because I’ve had that retina issue for 10+ years. But I might want to do it anyway, to get rid of the floaters there.
Why Do I Share This Story?
First of all, I think it’s an interesting story, and a cautionary tale as well. And I got to throw in two pop culture references and a few visual puns on the sly. Eye problems, including retina issues and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can sneak up on you, especially when you’ve circled the Sun a goodly number of times. In some cases, you’ll notice a sudden, dramatic change in vision, but more likely an eye problem will be initially asymptomatic.
Just as with any disease, in order to achieve the best outcomes, early detection and treatment is important. The Amsler Grid Eye Test is something you can do at home for free, to check for early signs of retinal problems or macular degeneration. And of course you should see an eye doctor regularly, especially if you notice any changes in your vision.
I hope you find this helpful. I look forward to getting back to my regular publishing schedule soon, and if you have any comments you’d like to share on this topic, use the form below.
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 28 Jul 2023
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Doctor, My Eyes! (Posted: 28 Jul 2023)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved