Friday, January 20, 2012

Tear....Like Rhymes with Bare.

Yesterday at work, it felt like there seemed to be a film across my right eye.  It just suddenly became noticeable.   But it wasn't in my eye, it was inside my eyeball.  The faint may want to leave now.  As long as I was busy, I could almost forget about it.  But it didn't go away.  And while I could tell it was inside my eyeball, I kept blinking thinking I could make it go away.  Imagine looking in a foggy mirror.  I could see but it was very filmy. 

Then I sneezed really hard.  This will be important later.

When I got home, I headed in to the dark living room to turn on a lamp....and saw flashing lights in my peripheral vision.  Very quick flashing lights lasting only 2 or 3 seconds.  Then Chuck walked in the back door and I thought ....oh, it must have been a reflection of his headlights coming up the driveway.  This is called denial. 

Change in your new floaters or showers of black things and flashing lights is an indicator of a retinal tear.  How do I know this?  Because it just happened to a good friend of mine not too long ago and she called and told me the details and I listened.  And while I normally hear symptoms of some weird disease and then immediately experience them...having myself dead and buried within the month, this wasn't the case here.  I just remembered her symptoms, and when the "flashing lights" happened, I knew.

So I got up this morning and knew I needed to call the opthamologist office.  Mention the words, "flashing lights" and they see you right away. Numbing drops, eye exams and 3 hours later waiting for the Retina Specialist, I had laser surgery on the tear in my retina. 

The orange matter is the retina. That little hole that the arrow is going through?  Well, that's a tear (rhymes with bare). The laser is shot around the tear to seal it off to prevent fluid going through the tear and causing the whole retina from pulling away.  Like in this picture. 

The surgery was quick and just a tad painful like a "headache." At one point, it felt like a brain freeze sensation.  I sat on my hands so I wouldn't make a quick movement and hit the doctor guiding the laser machine.

What caused this?  Oh, hard coughing, SNEEZING, constipation, heavy lifting, eye trauma, or NOTHING.  Yep, nothing can cause it....just part of the aging process.  Happens to about 5% of us.I did sneeze really hard yesterday but it was way after the huge, cloudy floater appeared.  Still, I wonder if that had anything to do with making it in "flashing lights" a little later.

And that cloudy stuff I see?  Blood inside my eye.  When the retina tore, it was near a blood vessel. It doesn't look like blood, it looks like a cloud.  And while my retina tear has been repaired, the huge floater may take months to dissipate...because it's actually blood and has to dissolve back in to your body.

For the next 2 weeks, I have to be very careful... no heavy lifting, no sudden jerking motion, no heavy exercise.  So sounds like I won't be seeing any of you at the gym.

And the doctor said eat all I want and absolutely no hanky panky.

Okay, maybe she didn't say that. 

PS....I can make a little joke about it now, but I was extremely scared this morning.  I worked hard at staying calm and brave today.  Drops numbed my eye, but I had to calm myself with no valium...just prayer.  If  these symptoms happen to any of you, do not delay in getting to the doctor.  If it hadn't have been for my friend having this happen to her, I wouldn't have put 2 and 2 together with my symptoms.  So I'm thankful for her ....not for her having this happen....but for sharing her story with me so I was able to get help.


  1. You are such a hoot - you manage to make a retinal tear sound funny! But Yikes! sounds scary to me. I'll never sneeze uninhibitedly again!!

  2. That is super scary Julia. I had a few optical migraines last year that rendered me almost completely blind for periods of time and caused me great distress so I understand. I hope you are following ALL of the doctors advice.