I had a detached retina nearly 15 years ago. It was a bad one and I’m very fortunate to still have vision in my right eye. It’s required a certain amount of adapting, since I do have a blind spot in my vision, down and to the right. Happily, it only affects me when I have a dog, little kid or box on the floor where I can’t see — until I stumble over him/her/it.
What Is a Detached Retina?
The retina is the thin layer of cells which allow you to see light and dark. When the retina detaches it peels away from the back of your eye. This is usually caused by disease, age, accident, or just plain extreme nearsightedness. My problem was that I’m extremely nearsighted, so my retina is stretched very thinly, making it easier to tear. Once a little edge peels up, the fluid in the eye gets behind the retina and causes it to raise up, or detach.
In my case, I started seeing a lot of “floaters.” Then a kind of a glowing white spot in my eye developed, which I could see when I closed that eye. It’s a bit hard to explain how it looked, but it was clear that I had a big problem.
I got to the doctor on Monday and by afternoon, I had cryo done on my eye and a gas bubble put in to keep the repaired section stuck to the back of the eyeball. I have to admit, it was extremely uncomfortable. I had to be driven home with an eye patch and instructions to keep my head at a certain angle, even when I was sleeping.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work, the retina came loose again.
I was admitted to the hospital and had surgery. The surgery is called “buckling” the eye. Essentially, a band was put around the eyeball to make the retina lay flat. I was knocked out for the surgery, so it wasn’t as traumatic as the cryo procedure.
When I was sent home the following day, I was on bed rest for a couple of weeks. I wasn’t allowed to drive, work, do housework, any kind of lifting, I wasn’t even allowed to read. I had to stay as still as possible.
At first, my eye was patched to protect it from light and accidentally touching it.
When I didn’t have to wear the patch anymore, I still had floaters and a hazy cloud that floated in my eye, dimming my vision. It was hard to cope with, especially since I had just moved and my house was an utter disaster, boxes were everywhere.
In any case, my family and co-workers stepped up to help me. My oldest son came home for a week to help me, then my mother came and took care of me, including unpacking and organizing a lot of my house. I really don’t know how I would have managed without them, as I had two small children at home at the time.
Six weeks later, I was able to go back to work. My optometrist was able to fit me with new contacts so my vision is as close to normal as possible.
My eyelid drooped for a while, due to the surgery, but today you wouldn’t know it. The hazy cloud inside my eye also disappeared over time, so I just have some floaters to ignore. And you do learn to ignore them. I also have a blind spot on the lower right corner of my vision, but it’s on the edge so again, you don’t notice it after a while.
I’ve had some laser work done since then, just to seal a few little spots. Laser is easy by comparison, you just see pink for an hour or two when it’s done. There is NO pain with laser.
My retina specialist was impressed with how I coped with it all. But as I told her, I was darn near blind before I had the detached retina, so it just meant that my right eye has a stronger prescription than before. I’m still blind as a bat without contacts or glasses, so what’s the difference? I’m just happy I can still see out of that eye!
To Maintain Your Eye Health
- Have your eyes checked every year.
- An optometrist is the doctor that determines your prescription and gets your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
- An ophthalmologist is the doctor that looks inside your eye for disease, damage, and/or other problems.
- If you suddenly have a lot of floaters, flashing spots that don’t go away, or a bright spot that obscures your vision, contact your ophthalmologist immediately.
Medline Plus: Medical Encyclopedia – Retina
University of Maryland Medical Center – Retinal Detachment