|The appearance of unusual floaters|
was a sign that my retina was tearing.
Monday, the night before our 25th anniversary, a very unusual floater appeared in my eye. I've always had floaters. Little guys that look like space ships that float across my field of vision. They were a bit annoying but not enough to make me crazy.
But the other night this massive Pac-man looking floater appeared. It didn't just float across my vision, it aggressively whipped around like those bumper car rides. I was also seeing flashes of light when I moved my eye. I knew something was really wrong.
We spent the morning of our big day in my eye doctor's office. After examining me he said that I had posterior vitreous detachment, not uncommon for someone my age or someone who just had cataract surgery. PVD is a condition where the vitreous, the clear gel-like fluid that fills the inside of your eye, starts to collapse and shrink away from the retina. When it does this, clumps or strands can form in the eye which are the floaters that you see when these objects cast a shadow on the retina.
PVD is more common in people who are nearsighted, have had cataract surgery or YAG laser surgery, or have had inflammation inside the eye.
I was somewhat relieved that it wasn't as serious as I thought although I wasn't happy that I was going to have to learn to coexist with Pac-man for a long time. Maybe forever. So we went out for a fabulous 25th anniversary dinner and, after a few sake's, I didn't notice the massive floater.
But the Next Day Things Got Much Worse
The next day Pac-man brought out his friends. They looked more like spider webs than floaters. Then the spider webs were joined with a jello-like substance and my vision looked like someone had just faux painted my retina.
It turns out that when the vitreous moves away from the retina, it sometimes pulls hard enough to tear it in one or more places. If fluid passes through the tear, it can lift the retina off off the back of the eye causing retinal detachment. If not treated, this can lead to blindness.
My Torn Retina
I ran back to my eye clinic. My PVD had progressed to a retinal tear so they immediately sent me to the North Bay Vitreoretinal Surgery Center. After hours of tests and pictures and blinding lights flashing in my eye, they observed two horseshoe retinal tears and some hemorrhaging. This was very serious and I was pretty fortunate to live 30 minutes away from one of the best vitreoretinal surgery centers in the area.
After dilating the pupil to the size of a quarter and giving me numbing drops, they shot my retinal tears with, what seemed like, a hundred laser beams. This welds the retina back together and hopefully will prevent most vision loss. Fortunately, it may have prevented me from going blind. Unfortunately, it didn't get rid of Pac-man and his spidery friends and the beautiful vision that I was enjoying after my cataract surgery is probably gone forever. I keep reminding myself, "I'm not blind."
There was a very high probability that we would have been traveling for our 25th anniversary. It was just a stroke of luck that we decided to stay close to home. The difference between having to deal with a retinal tear and a retinal detachment and face much more serious surgery and possibly blindness, is just a matter of how fast you make it to the doctor. Bottom line, if you see unusual floaters, cobwebs, or flashes of light in your eyes, RUN to a good ophthalmologist. Time is of the essence.