Sight loss in literature

It’s a truth, perhaps not universally acknowledged, but certainly generally accepted by myself and the people surrounding me, that I’m a tad obsessed by eye related matters these days.  Another obsession of mine is reading, as I find it a pretty effective method of escaping from the world.  A few months ago, these obsessions collided when I found myself reading two novels, one after the other, each of which contained a character with sight loss.  I was surprised as in each case I’d been unaware that the book would be dealing with this subject.  Although finding myself unexpectedly reading about sight loss meant that it wasn’t exactly an escape from my own world, I nevertheless found it fascinating and I started to wonder about the subject of sight loss in literature.

As a fan of nineteenth century English literature with a particular passion for the Brontë sisters in my younger days, my thoughts inevitably drifted towards ‘Jane Eyre’, and Mr Rochester’s blindness towards the end of the novel.  His sight loss is caused by a falling beam during a fire started at his home, Thornfield Hall.  The beam knocked one eye out and after the incident his other eye became inflamed and he lost the sight in that one too.  The innkeeper who relates Mr Rochester’s fate to a horrified Jane tells her, “Some say it was a just judgement on him for keeping his first marriage secret, and wanting to take another wife while he had one living”.  So there we have an example of blindness being used as a form of punishment.  This idea almost certainly comes from biblical sources, so it isn’t really surprising that Charlotte makes reference to it, considering the fact that her father was a vicar.

I’m sure I also remember reading, way back in my student days, that Rochester’s blindness coupled with the amputation of one hand (another injury as a result of the fire) was used as a device to render him and Jane more equal and therefore more suitable for marriage.  For anyone who hasn’t read ‘Jane Eyre’ [pauses to gasp in horrified incredulity] – at the start of the novel, Rochester is rich and not-bad-looking; Jane is poor and plain.  Obviously such a mismatched couple were never going to make it into the serious business of matrimony, especially when you add into the mix the fact that Rochester had a crazy wife with a passion for pyromania whom he kept locked up in the attic.  But – happily – by the end of the novel, Jane had inherited the princely sum of twenty thousand pounds and Rochester was “blind and a cripple”, with the added bonus of having a dead mad wife.  And so, Readers, she married him.

Another interesting point concerning ‘Jane Eyre’ is that Charlotte Brontë had some knowledge of sight loss herself.  Her father went pretty much blind due to cataracts, and eventually underwent cataract surgery in Manchester, in August 1846, after his daughters had managed to scout out a reputable surgeon.  If you’re squeamish, dear Reader, now is the time to avert your eyes as cataract surgery in those days was a bit grim…

Poor Patrick Brontë had to endure his cataract operation without anaesthetic, as it was feared that the vomiting caused by the anaesthetic would cause the wound to rupture.  An incision was made into his cornea and the lens was extracted from its capsule.  No IOLs in those days of course, so he simply remained aphake.  As surgeons didn’t know at that time how to use stitches to hold the cut together, he then had to lie in a darkened room with bandaged eyes for about a month.  Imagine that, fellow RD patients… that’s basically posturing after cataract surgery, isn’t it!?!  And yes – eyes plural!  They operated on both eyes at once!  [Pauses to scream in horror.]  Aaaanyway, poor Patrick had to remain in Manchester for his cataract posturing.  Presumably a rickety horse and carriage ride back to Haworth wouldn’t have been the best idea for his healing peepers.  Charlotte therefore stayed to take care of him like the dutiful daughter she was, and it was during this time that she began writing ‘Jane Eyre’.  No doubt she drew upon this experience when writing about Rochester’s blindness and of how he eventually recovered some of the sight in his remaining eye.

Thinking about all this has made me curious to investigate the subject of sight loss in literature, with a number of questions in mind.  How are characters with sight loss portrayed – are they painted mainly in a positive or a negative light, and how convincing do they appear?  Is the sight loss merely being used as a device to symbolise something such as a punishment or increased insight?  Are fictional characters with sight loss more accurately portrayed by authors who have personal experience of it?  One would assume the answer to this would be ‘yes’, and yet I imagine it depends upon the nature of the experience and depth of understanding and knowledge gained as a result.  How has the portrayal of sight loss in fiction changed through the years?  And finally… the question which is perhaps most relevant to me personally: will reading fiction concerning sight loss help me to fear it less in my own life?  I hope so, for I intend to investigate these questions a little during my attempted escapes from the world via reading.  At the moment, the only other examples of sight loss in literature which immediately come to mind are the grandfather in ‘Frankenstein’ and the gouging out of Gloucester’s eyes in ‘King Lear’, so I’m sure there is much for me to discover on this subject.  If anyone has any suggestions concerning reading material, please let me know in the comments below!

Note: For any readers who haven’t yet read ‘Jane Eyre’… GO AND READ IT!

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Headaches on repeat

When I developed a stonking headache at work about three weeks ago, I didn’t think much of it.  Since my eye issues, I get a fair number of headaches and there doesn’t seem to be much I can do about them other than take painkillers when necessary and try to avoid screen work (tricky, when my job involves working on a computer pretty much all day).  When I’ve queried the headaches at Moorfields, I’ve been told it’s unsurprising as my eye has been through so much trauma; my vision in each eye is now so different that this could be causing them; and I’m still right-eye dominant, despite the fact that my right eye is now not an awful lot of use, which puts more strain on my left eye.  Unfortunately, there are no solutions to any of these things, apart from time travel.  With the new Dr Who in full swing, if anyone manages to steal the Tardis, please let me borrow it.

The headache hung around for a couple of days, then eased off, then went away completely for a day or two, then returned and resumed it’s thumping.  This pattern continued for the next couple of weeks and I started to worry (as we oily-eyed RD patients do) that my eye pressure was creeping up.  Of course, the worry didn’t improve the headaches and the headaches didn’t improve the worrying,  so eventually I booked an appointment with an optometrist to go and get the pressures checked.  The lady on reception booked me in for a full eye test rather than just a pressure check, but as I was due one anyway, I didn’t argue.

Upon arriving on the designated day with plenty of time to spare in which to stress, I was dismayed when I realised that the really good optometrist  I’d seen previously wasn’t working that day (have a read of Hunt the optometrist: round 4).  However, I needn’t have worried, as the chap I saw this time seemed equally thorough, firing off a list of questions in his broad Yorkshire accent.  When he reached, “Have you banged your head at all recently?”, I stared at him in horror and related my second surgeon’s “Don’t get a head trauma” advice, whereupon he proceeded to tell me all the other things I should avoid as well: lifting, contact sports, bungee jumping, certain yoga positions… I would have cracked the joke about how much I missed playing rugby since my retinal detachments, but I was too nervous about what my eye pressure readings might be.

He kept me in suspense, as the slit lamp examination came next.  “It looks very shiny in there!”, he exclaimed, peering into my oil-filled RD eye, before observing, “Ah yes, I can see the area of cryotherapy.”  He moved to my left eye and observed with relief, “Ah, this pupil works nicely!” and then went on to perform the pressure check.  Puff!  Blink!  “18 in the right eye”, he declared, as I sagged in the chair with relief.  He administered a puff to my left eye and noted, “14 in that one.”  Rather than simply accepting that everything was fine, pressure-wise, I then asked, “Don’t you take three readings and then use the average, though?”, to which he replied that this wasn’t really necessary and the readings could vary according to certain things, similar to the way that blood pressure readings can vary.  To demonstrate, he took another reading in each eye, and that time it was 21 in the right and 16 in the left.  I voiced my assumption that surely the readings wouldn’t keep going up but would remain within certain limits.  He said this was correct, but laughed and shook his head when I suggested that we test it out, assuring me, “It’s fine – don’t invite trouble!”.  I told him that what I could really do with was my very own pressure monitoring machine so that I could periodically check my own eye pressures.  I was quite hopeful for a few seconds when he mentioned that there was a spare one in the other room, but sadly he didn’t offer it out as a long-term loan.  [Note to self: look up eye pressure monitors on Amazon, because Amazon sell EVERYTHING.  Everything, that is, apart from new retinas.]

Next came the most confusing part of the eye test… you know the bit I mean… where they make you don those fetching glasses and proceed to slot different lenses in and ask,  “Which is clearer… this… or this…?”.  After a while, they all seem to bur into one (no pun intended).  The final verdict was that my distance vision remains unchanged (phew!) but my close vision has altered and I now need [cue dramatic music]… VARIFOCALS!  [gasp]  “AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!  I’m getting old!”… Well, that’s the reaction which I suspect he often receives to that news, anyway.  However, I just shrugged my shoulders and admitted that I’d suspected as much because for a while I’d been reading underneath my glasses as it was clearer.  “A-ha!”, he pounced on this information and proceeded to explain that this certainly wouldn’t have been helping my headaches as although I was finding it easier to read things without my glasses, it would be distorted because of my astigmatism.  So basically, going from corrected middle and distance vision through my glasses to uncorrected close vision without my glasses has been causing me more eye strain.  That’s on top of the existing strain of only having decent vision in one eye and extremely waffy vision in the other, and the whole right-eye dominant thing.  As a result, he advised that I try a varifocal lens in my good eye and a single-vision lens in my RD eye.

This all seemed fairly logical to me, so I decided to just go with it.  I spent the next half hour with a very helpful lady who, when I admitted that I was utterly hopeless at choosing new frames, proceeded to pass me different ones to try, commenting on which suited me and laughing as I peered into the mirror and recoiled in horror at some of the less subtle ones.  (My name’s Emma, not Edna!)  She explained all about the two different types of varifocal lens [note of advice: if you’re relying on just the one eye, grit your teeth and go with the more expensive ones], and joked that really they needed a counselling room out the back for people who couldn’t deal with the news that the time had come for varifocals.  Or maybe it’s more the price of the glasses which requires people to need counselling.  I certainly gulped as I signed the order form quickly before I could change my mind.  And then I told myself that I refuse to feel guilty… i want to make the most of all the decent vision I can manage to squeeze out of my good left eye.

So… if anyone has any tips on getting rid of headaches or getting used to varifocals (particularly if you have silicone oil in one eye), please let me know…

What surgeons say… and what they really mean

After having spent more time than I would ever have thought possible in hospital eye clinics, I’ve inevitably picked up some of the lingo along the way.  I’ve also learnt that sometimes there are hidden messages in some of the things the surgeons say and occasionally a casual comment contains within it an entirely different meaning.  For example, after my fifth lot of surgery when my consultant’s Fellow told me, “You have very unusual eyes”, I knew that despite having just gazed into the windows to my soul with fascinated intensity*, unfortunately he wasn’t being complimentary.  He was basically saying, “I don’t know why the hell your retina detached for the fifth time – this doesn’t happen with most of my patients!”.  [Note: I now know that the reason for my multiple detachments was the evil PVR.]

I also realise now that when this same Fellow cheerfully and confidently assured me before my oil removal in surgery number four, “I think you’re going to be okay”, he probably meant, “I reeeeally hope you’re going to be okay because otherwise we’re running out of options!”.  And when my very first surgeon referred me to Moorfields as “a tricky case”, what he actually meant was, “HEEEELP!  I’m completely stuck on this one – please sort her out for me!”.

So with the above in mind, I thought I’d compile a handy guide of what surgeons say and what they really mean…

  1. “I’m just going to pop some drops into your eye; it might sting a bit.” = “This is going to sting like hell, especially if your eyes are tired.”
  2. “There’s a lot going on in that eye, isn’t there?” = “Your eye’s buggered!”
  3. “It’s looking a little sore today.” = “You look as if you’ve  just come out of the ring after three rounds with Mike Tyson, walked into a door and then been hit in the eye with a football.”
  4. “Look up and left again.” = “I’ve just seen something worrying and need to have another reccy.”  (The key word here is ‘again’.  If ‘again’ is used more than once in relation to the same part of the eye, I start to get REALLY worried.)
  5. “You might feel some discomfort.” = “This is likely to hurt; brace yourself and grit your teeth.”
  6. “If you’d like to lie down on the bed, I’m just going to take a closer look.” = “BEEP BEEP BEEP: warning, scleral indentation… this is going to be ouch, ouch, OUCH!”
  7. Whilst doing scleral indentation: “I’m just going to pop in some more numbing drops” = “This is going to be REALLY OOOOOOUUUCCCHHH!”
  8. During surgery: “Just tell me if you need to cough at any point.” = “For God’s sake keep still!”
  9. Also during surgery, to one of the other people in theatre: “Can I have the cutter, please?” = “Well that part of the retina is completely trashed so I’m just going to chop it out.”
  10. In hospital letters: “Examination revealed a quiet right eye.” = “Yay – it’s all stable for now!”

And on that unusual but very welcome positive note of number 10, I shall stop for now.  If any of my eye buddies have any entertaining or useful additions to my list, please feel free to share them in the comments below…

* I didn’t add, ‘through my massively dilated pupils, via the slit lamp’, as I thought that would spoil the mood somewhat. 😉

 

Antibiotic anxiety

I celebrated my birthday a couple of weeks ago.  Or at least, I should have celebrated it.  Because that’s what birthdays are for, isn’t it?  Celebrating, eating cake, and making the most of people being nice to you all day.  But no.  Not this birthday.  On this birthday I was standing outside my doctor’s surgery at 7:50am in a queue of about ten glum-looking people, shivering in the ineffectual September morning sunshine as we all waited for the door to open at 8am.  This was the only way of guaranteeing an appointment on the day.

The previous day, I’d popped down to my local pharmacy for advice on a couple of itchy insect bites which were looking increasingly red and swollen.  I was expecting to be given a tube of some kind of cream and told not to worry, so was slightly alarmed when, after eyeing it in horror, the pharmacist presented me with antihistamine tablets which he urged me to take now, and followed this up by advising me to go straight to the local walk-in medical centre in case antibiotics were needed.  Off I went obediently, whilst repeating the mantra, “No antibiotics, no antibiotics, no, no, NO ANTIBIOTICS!” to myself.

A cheerful nurse at the walk-in centre confirmed the pharmacist’s diagnosis of infected insect bites.  After observing my reluctance to her suggestion of antibiotics, she reassured me that the infection might well resolve on its own, with the help of antihistamines, ibuprofen, and ice.  She took a pen and carefully drew a line around the big red splodge on my arm, instructing me to go back or visit my GP if the redness extended beyond that line, in which case she warned me that I would definitely be needing antibiotics.

Instead of improving, the red mass swelled up and quadrupled in size overnight, turned a deep angry shade of red, and increased in temperature to what felt like boiling point.  It was also itching so much that I felt an almost overwhelming urge to slice off a layer of my skin with the bread knife.  I managed to restrain myself, suspecting that this possibly wouldn’t resolve matters satisfactorily.  Plus, I didn’t want to make a mess in the kitchen.  I went to my GP in the hopes that if I spoke to an actual doctor, they might have a magic solution rather than dishing out evil antibiotics.  Sadly this wasn’t to be, and I left the surgery forlornly clutching a prescription after being assured by the doctor that, yes, she really did think that antibiotics were necessary in this instance.

My aversion to antibiotics is twofold.  Firstly – have you ever read the list of horrendous potential side-effects?!  It’s just a tad scary and more than a little ironic to read that the medication prescribed to resolve one ailment could actually bring on a whole heap of others, some of which could even result in DEATH!  I know I finally got around to writing my will recently (have a read of Where there’s a will, there’s a way), but I wasn’t expecting my final wishes to be carried out quite so soon.  And before anyone starts trying to reassure me by saying, “Oh, but that particular nasty side-effect only happens to one in a hundred people”, let me ask whether you know how many people are affected by retinal detachment?  According to the RNIB, it’s one in 10,000 people per year.  And do you know how many of these people are affected by PVR?  That’s approximately 5-10% of those one in 10,000 people.  So unfortunately, as I’m already one of those minority medical statistics, I’m afraid that such attempts to reassure me are cold comfort.  Pretty much frozen comfort, in fact.

Secondly – I know that some research has been carried out which established a link between certain antibiotics and occurrences of retinal detachment.  After six detachments in my bad eye, two large tears in my good eye, and lattice degeneration in both, I’m rather keen to avoid any potential risk factors for further problems other than those I’m already having to deal with.  The research only related to a certain type of antibiotics (known as Fluroquinolones and marketed under various names), and it’s also somewhat confusing in that other studies have apparently disproved the link between these antibiotics and RD.  I did check the issue with my consultant a while ago, and he assured me that there are no contraindications to antibiotics.  However, I’d still rather avoid that particular type, if at all possible.

Fortunately, the GP prescribed a different type and I’m pleased to report that the insect bites have now pretty much disappeared and I’m still alive, despite all the terrifying warnings on the patient information leaflet.  However, the whole episode was somewhat depressing – not only because I would far rather have been eating cake than forcing down antibiotics on my birthday, but mainly because it was yet another example of how so much of my life is affected by RD.

Note: If you’re reading this because you’re worried about RD and antibiotics, the best thing to do is double check it with your consultant.  Google is not always your friend…

 

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

I finally got around to updating my will recently.  I use the term ‘updating’ loosely, as I wrote my original will at the tender age of 16.  I’m not entirely sure that it was perfectly legal, although I did manage to get two independent witnesses to sign it.  I probably bribed them with jelly babies.  More to the point, most of the gifts I left to various people are now null and void.  For example: “To my dear mother, I leave my rabbit, Dog, as long as she looks after her properly.”  I’m also not entirely sure that the last few sentences would pass legal scrutiny: “PS I would like to be buried in Lullington graveyard in an airtight coffin.  I would like Lully to be buried with me.  Please make sure I am properly dead before you bury me.”  [Note: Lully is a soft toy in the form of a rabbit, which I’ve had since birth, and is now looking rather the worse for wear.]  My declaration at the start of this dubious document, that I was “in my sane mind” is possibly also slightly questionable as I have a vague recollection of writing my will due to an impending school trip to France, which I was convinced I wouldn’t survive as the ferry was bound to sink and we would all be drowned.

Happily, I managed to survive that school trip, and it wasn’t until eleven years ago when I finally managed to get onto the housing ladder that I thought about writing a proper will.  I bought a ‘do it yourself’ will kit and after thoroughly confusing myself reading it, I shoved it in a drawer and procrastinated.  Every now and then I’d do a bit of half-hearted research, but it never really came to anything until I got sick of scribbling ‘write will’ as the first item on all my to do lists but never reaching that satisfying stage of being able to actually cross it off.

For those readers who are wondering what the heck this has to do with retinal detachment and eye issues… bear with me!  You see, one of the reasons I wanted to make a proper will was so that I could leave some of my hard-earned dosh to charity and naturally, Moorfields Eye Charity was an obvious choice.  I considered adding a clause that my gift should be used specifically for research into PVR, but that seemed a bit complicated so I decided against it.  Now I’m not exactly flush, although you never know – my paintings might massively increase in value upon my demise.  But every little helps (not that I’m advocating shopping at Tesco, of course) and I like to think that I might be able to benefit others a little once I’ve shuffled off this mortal coil.

It’s important to point out that gifts in wills play a vital role in enabling charities to do things like fund groundbreaking research, purchase specialist equipment, and provide much-needed support for people.  It’s also worth remembering that gifts left to charities are free from inheritance tax.  So if you’re a millionaire, you may be able to reduce your inheritance tax bill by making a donation to charity, which means that more of your money will go to the people you really want to leave it to, rather than the government.  I don’t think they need any more money with which to make a complete cock-up of the country, do you?

I was under the impression that a will would only be properly legal if I had it drawn up by a solicitor, so I did a bit of asking around and emailed a couple of firms for quotes.  The responses made my eyes widen in disbelief, particularly when I realised that any subsequent changes to the will would also involve parting with a substantial amount of cash.  Cash which could be put to far better use in the hands of Moorfields Eye Charity.  It was this, together with an article I read which detailed research which found that even wills drawn up by solicitors weren’t necessarily legal as they sometimes contained crucial errors, which led me to the slow process of trawling through companies which offered an online will-writing service and were, unsurprisingly, considerably cheaper than solicitors.  I eventually settled on Farewill, which for a yearly fee of £10 also allows unlimited updates.  The whole process was so easy that I wondered why I’d procrastinated for such a long time.  So now I can die safe in the knowledge that I’ve done something practical to try and help people with eye issues, and perhaps help to fund further much-needed research into the demon that is PVR.

For anyone else thinking of making a will (just do it!), you may be interested in the following information:

So, even though most people don’t like thinking about death, it’s really important to make a will.  By doing so, you can ensure that whatever you leave behind goes to the people and charities that you care about most.  Or even the people and companies you care about least, if all you’re leaving behind is a giant pile of steaming manure.  In my case, it also means that as I specified cremation (it’s cheaper than burial), I’m not so worried about the possibility of being buried alive in an airtight coffin in Lullington graveyard with nothing but a stuffed rabbit for company.

 

#RDproblems

My family and I celebrated my sister’s birthday a few days ago.  It was nothing fancy – just a simple meal out, a few seaside strolls, a beetroot and avocado birthday cake (yes, really), and a spot of decoration in the form of bunting and banners.  It was whilst precariously perched on a stool in my pjs at approximately 7:30am and reaching up to tie the bunting to the lampshade that I had my lightbulb moment for this particular blog post [pauses for readers to groan].  The act of looking up as I tied the bunting caused the floaters in my RD eye to appear – something which always freaks me out.  I then spent the next half hour trying not to focus on one particular ominous-looking big black floater, until it finally disappeared again.  So there you have it: #RDproblems.

The second RD problem of the day occurred  when we settled down for a family meal out and I was dazzled by the hideously bright lights on the ceiling.  I mean, I know it was a dull day but seriously… did they really have to be quite so bright?!  Another classic RD problem which often occurs when eating out is when the waiter or waitress hands me a menu or something and I jump out of my skin because they’re standing in my blind spot.  The leaping out of my skin problem happens pretty frequently in other situations too – particularly anywhere involving crowds of people such as on public transport or when walking down a busy road.

Another classic RD problem is when I see what I think is a fly zipping across the room, but as I’m not 100% sure and am worried in case it’s a new floater I feel the need to check with whoever I’m with by asking, “Is that a fly?”.  I did this recently with a new work colleague, who looked at me as if I was barking mad, so I had to explain.  She then eyed me in even more bemusement when I told her that I have silicone oil in my eye…

Other RD problems include the following:

  • Upon seeing a flash of light, feeling the urgent necessity to work out exactly what’s caused it.
  • Having to carry each full bag of shopping separately into the house from the car.
  • That thing where a step mysteriously slides away just when you think you’ve figured out where the edge of it is.
  • A return to childhood, in being afraid of the dark once more.
  • As above, but this time in relation to thunderstorms (lightning flashes = aaaarrrgghh!!).
  • Wincing whenever someone mentions ‘detached’ in any context whatsoever, even during a conversation which has absolutely nothing to do with RD.
  • Taking approximately 15 minutes to thread a needle, instead of the pre-RD 15 seconds.
  • Stressing out over a sudden sneeze.
  • Having to move your desk at work over to the other side of the office because you couldn’t cope with the horribly bright ceiling lights in the corridor which dazzled whenever anyone opened the door.

I’m pretty sure that my eye buddies could come up with a fair few more RD problems, so please go ahead and share so that we can groan and sympathise together… 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Vision through the gas bubble

Last week, a fellow RD patient left a comment on my blog post, ‘Do you see what I see?‘, in which she asked questions about looking through the gas bubble and how much of what she was seeing was ‘normal’.  So I thought it might be helpful to write a post about that very topic.  It’s worth pointing out at this stage that I’m not an ophthalmologist (I’m pretty sure I’d fail the eyesight requirements) or even an optometrist, and I’m just writing about my own experiences as a long-suffering RD patient as well as what I’ve learnt along the way.  If you’re worried about any visual symptoms after undergoing retinal reattachment surgery, it’s always best to get them checked out by a qualified medical professional.

I’ve had two gas bubbles so far – the first was a long-acting one which I was told would last for six weeks but in fact it lasted for nine.  A year later, I had a short-acting gas bubble, which would probably have lasted for about two and a half weeks if my dratted retina hadn’t decided to re-detach yet again.  Following each of these surgeries, once the eye patch was removed I was able to see light but everything else was a crazy blur – a bit like when you open your eyes under water.  It’s impossible to read or make out any detail at all at first.  However, it should be possible to detect a moving hand, when waved around in front of your face.  It can be very scary at this point, and personally I also felt very unbalanced and dizzy at times.  My depth perception was completely screwed and I was terrified that I wouldn’t get any vision back.

Once the gas bubble starts to disperse, things begin to get interesting.  The rate at which it disperses will depend on whether it’s a long-acting or short-acting bubble.  However, the effects are pretty much the same for both.  When sitting up, you’ll start to notice a sort of line at the top of your eye, over which you can see things more clearly.  It looks a bit like a spirit level and the line will gradually move further down your eye each day and you’ll start to see more above it.  Below the line, it will still look as if you’re trying to see underwater.  The bit above the line probably won’t be perfectly clear – people often see tiny dots or the odd floater, and colours and lines often appear distorted.  For me, colours were faded and very different to how they appeared when looking through my good eye, and lines were slightly crooked.  For example, the straight edge of a door frame would look as if  it had slight kinks in it.

As the bubble disperses further, the edge of it takes on more of a curve, which can appear as a thicker dark line.  When the bubble is small enough, if you lie face down and open your eye, you can see it as a perfect circle.  At this point, you’ll also find that it acts as a magnifying glass, and if you try to read something through it, the text will appear much bigger than when you try and read it ‘over the top’ of the line of the bubble.  You’ll see all sorts of odd visual effects caused by reflections from the bubble, including shafts of light, which can be very off-putting.  Another weird thing is that the bubble, when it’s at a certain stage, can cause you to see certain objects as if they’re upside down.  I’ll never forget watching the dog wandering across my vision and seeing him as if he was upside down!

Gradually, the bubble will get smaller and smaller and will appear with a dark line around the edge of it.  At this point, many people find that it will start to split up.  Sometimes it will split off into a few smaller bubbles which separate for a while and then merge back into the main bubble.  I found that I kept seeing a ‘baby bubble’ which would scoot around the edge of the main bubble and then disappear again.  Towards the end of my long-acting gas bubble, it became very tiny as I saw it right down at the bottom of my vision.  There were a couple of mornings when I woke up and looked for it thinking that it had finally gone, only to have it bounce back into view a few hours later.

Many new people on the RD support group on Facebook get frustrated by the bubble and can’t wait for it to disappear.  There’s no doubt that it results in some very bizarre, off-putting, and quite scary visual effects at times.  But the bubble is there to push the retina back and hold it in place as it heals.  Therefore, the gas bubble is your friend… be patient with it!  Below, you will find two photos, which are my visual attempts to describe what it looks like as the gas bubble starts to disperse.