sinanju: The Shadow (The Shadow Knows)
As you no doubt remember, Faithful Reader, in our last exciting episode Our Hero visited the Opthalmologist after discovering a new and rather annoying floater in his left field of vision. After an exam, it was determined that he was suffering from vitreous detachment. That is when the vitreous jelly (the clear goo that fills the eyeball and helps it hold it's shape) pulls loose from the retina. This is a common and generally not terribly troublesome side effect of aging.

The Opthalmologist told me to come back in thirty days for a follow-up visit, as it usually takes about a month for the detachment to reach completion. Occasionally the detachment isn't complete and the vitreous jelly can tear the retina as it pulls away. Otherwise, the detachment isn't a serious problem.

So I went back to yesterday and got some photos taken of the inside of my eyes, and had some other tests done. The doc wanted to check my eye pressure again as well. Today I went back a third time to go over the results of the tests and to have him dilate my eyes and check the vitreous detachment. The pressure in my eye is a little lower than last time, which is good. But the depth of field test* indicated one tiny area (in the left eye again) where I may have an issue.

It could be nothing, just a flaw in my visual field that's always been there and always will be. Or it might indicate that I'm at risk of developing glaucoma. So they'll have me come back every six months to retake the test and see what happens. If it does turn out to be glaucoma, they'll have detected it very early and can treat it long before I'd ever have noticed any problems. (Note: apparently, mostly glaucoma is never noticed by the sufferer thereof until it has advanced severely, so this is good.)

On the other hand, a visual inspection of my left eye detected a possible tear in the retina. The opthalmologist had a retinal special at the clinc take a look. Yes, he told me, I have a small tear in the retina. That's probably what the prominent and annoying floater is from--bleeding from when it tore. Good news is, that means the floater will eventually go away. Bad news: I have a tear in my retina.

Ten minutes later I was in the laser lab getting the tear treated. This consists of putting anaesthetic drops in my eye, then putting some sort of lens on my eye that keeps my eyelid from blinking AND prevents the laser from zapping the central visual area of the retina.** Then I stare into a very bright light as the doctor peers into my eye and aims the laser. Then he zaps me repeatedly with the laser, which cases a blinding flash of vivid green light.

Repeatedly. Mostly it was just painfully bright. A few times it felt like getting a poke in the eye with a finger. Once he'd dealt with the tear, he took a second good, steamy gawk--and found a second, smaller tear. So more bright lights and more pokes in the eye with a bright green laser finger.

Now I'm home and I can just about see again. Having my eyes dilated and then getting lasered made it impossible to focus up close for a couple of hours. I have to go back next week so the retina specialist can check up on me. Or sooner, if I suddenly notice a lot of new floaters in that eye--in which case, I have his card and I'm supposed to call immediately, and there'll be someone on call.

So that's my exciting laser adventure. Now I can truthfully say that I've looked in the laser, and that I hope I never have to look in the laser with my remaining eye.

*You stare at a target point while lights are flashed in different places in your field of vision, at varying levels of brightness, and you click a button whenever you see one. This way they can find any blind (or reduced sensitivity) spots in your visual field. They do this separately for each eye.

**Apparently, that used to be a risk of this kind of laser surgery. If the laser hit the wrong part of the eye, it could affect your vision. The lens prevents this (I don't know how, unless it diffuses the beam somehow if it's aimed at the wrong place).

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sinanju

August 2017

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