Monday, June 30, 2008

The Vision Thing

A little while ago I sent this off to almost everybody in my address book (excluding a few that I knew I had entertained with the story already, and a few whom I knew wouldn't give a rip). It seems worth putting here, too:

The Vision Thing
Some of you have heard this story--sorry about that; nobody likes summer reruns. However, it seems important to send to just about everybody, even if that means some repeats. (I'm sending this to about everybody in my address book, which is something I seldom do.)

About a month ago I noticed something "different" in the vision field of my left eye. I have always had many "floaters," more pronounced in the left eye, and scarcely even noticed them after 51 years. But now there was something different among the familiar old patterns, a couple of little blips that moved, jumpily, as my eye moved...unlike the floaters, which tend to go their own little ways. I determined to keep an eye on it. No pun intended.

That was on a Saturday. On Monday, at the movies with my son, I noted a flash of light in my left eye when I glanced toward him at one point. So of course I spent some time looking left-right-left to see if I could duplicate the feat. I did, a couple of times, though not every time.

That evening the pattern of floaters was different from the old familiar picture, and they seemed thicker.

Off to UrgentCare. The doctor there couldn't see anything amiss, and recommended that I hie on in to an emergency room if things persisted or worsened.

No change the next day, Tuesday, but I brought it to the attention of my family doctor at a previously made appointment. He sent me to an ophthalmologist.

On Wednesday at the ophthalmologist, I was informed that I had a tear in the retina and the vitreous had "collapsed," which sounded pretty awful but which seemed to bother the MDs less than the tear. The doctor I visited sent me down the hall to a retina specialist who confirmed the diagnosis and wheeled in the laser gear for, as he put it, some "spot-welding."

Well, all's well that ends well, as they say. A week later I re-visited the clinic, and the doctor was very pleased with how things were looking. No pun intended. I'll go back in a couple of weeks for another follow-up. From my side of the eyeball, the vision in that eye is back to normal, though the floaters aren't. I imagine I now have a new pattern of them that I'll have to spend the next 50 years getting used to.

The moral of the story is this: If you EVER notice anything suddenly different about your vision, get it checked immediately. A torn retina is a big deal, but a less-big deal than a detached retina, which would have been the next thing had I ignored my symptoms. (The torn retina was treated in the exam room with a portable laser unit. Uncomfortable, but not horribly painful. A detached retina would have required big-time surgery. After the "spot-welding" I drove myself home, and there were no restrictions on my activities. Such would not be so with a detached retina.)

As with so many other things in the medical realm, speed is everything. If you ever experience sudden visual changes or disturbances, don't wait for it to "go away." It probably will, but it will be replaced by something worse.

Consider yourself warned!

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