Monday, June 08, 2009

I Can't See Clearly Now, the Rain Has Come

For months now I've been noticing a cloudiness to my left eye -- but I chalked it up to my contact lenses. I've had contacts since I was 15, and even 20 years later you sometimes have a day or two where your eyes just don't agree with them.

But more recently, I started noticing an after-image on my eye. You know, like those kinds of images that briefly burn in your vision after you look at a bright light (like a flashlight, etc.). Those after-images usually go away after a few seconds. The problem with this after-image was, it wasn't going anywhere. Night after night (when you can see those flashes best, since it's dark), I'd see it.

I finally decided to go to my optometrist on Saturday. He dilated my eyes, did an exam, and came back with the news: I wasn't imagining things. I had a torn retina.

Retina tears can lead to retina detachment, which doesn't sound fun. Here's some info from the NIH:

What is retinal detachment?
The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. When the retina detaches, it is lifted or pulled from its normal position. If not promptly treated, retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss.

In some cases there may be small areas of the retina that are torn. These areas, called retinal tears or retinal breaks, can lead to retinal detachment.

What are the symptoms of retinal detachment?
Symptoms include a sudden or gradual increase in either the number of floaters, which are little "cobwebs" or specks that float about in your field of vision, and/or light flashes in the eye. Another symptom is the appearance of a curtain over the field of vision. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency. Anyone experiencing the symptoms of a retinal detachment should see an eye care professional immediately.

Yep, they actually bold that part -- "a retinal detachment is a medical emergency." Yikes. The optometrist told me I needed to see a retina specialist pronto on Monday... so hopefully I can get this treated quickly. I'll let ya know how it goes.

9 p.m. UPDATE Well, here's where it gets confusing. I saw a second optometrist today, who said he couldn't find the retina tear. He said there's a chance it's small enough that it was tough to find today (sort of like a flap that opens and closes; when it's closed, you can't tell that it's actually a tear). That means, possibly good news -- perhaps no tear after all. I'm going to see him again in a few days to see what's up. In the meantime, my left eye is still cloudy and I still see that recurring flash -- so something's up. But for now, I'm going to hold off being too worried about it.

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