I spy with my little eye something beginning with F…

…I stare in terrified concentration, heart thumping, at the black floater casually hovering against the pale wall.  The by now familiar sick feeling of please-don’t-let-there-be-any-new-symptoms rises in my stomach and my jaw clenches as I turn to look at a different part of the wall.  The floater disappears.  I turn my head back to the original spot.  There it is again.  I stare at it, whilst running through the options for emergency eye clinics in my head before the realisation dawns that it’s actually just a large fly on the wall.  I let out a huge sigh of relief as I feel my whole body relax, and the fly escapes a flattening due to my gratefulness that it isn’t a floater (although to be fair I’d probably miss anyway).

It’s this constant fear of any changes in vision and the possible symptoms of another detachment which is so difficult to live with.  I’ve jumped out of my skin at a blackbird swooping down in my peripheral vision, thinking it was a floater, burst into tears after seeing repeated camera flashes during a walk at dusk, thinking they were in my eye, and lain awake all night unable to sleep after seeing a flash on my bedroom wall because I couldn’t be sure whether it was external or internal.  Sometimes I close my eyes when the floaters in my good eye are driving me particularly crazy, only to find that I can still see some of them with my eyes shut.  I won’t even start trying to describe the weird kaleidoscopic lights and flashes you sometimes see in the dark immediately after surgery.  A few times I’ve started awake in a panic following nightmares that I’m having another detachment and had to switch the light on to make sure I can still see.  Since my most recent surgery I keep getting flickering at the bottom of my eye, but after my fourth surgery the flickering was at the top.  I think it’s to do with the areas which have been lasered but it can be hugely off-putting, as can what one RD patient described as the ‘lava lamp’ blob of light which occasionally scoots around the edge of my vision.

I have measurements for myself to test my visual field, depending on where I am.  If I sit at the table at my mum’s house and stare ahead at the door handle, I know that I should be able to just about see the light on the ceiling above if I look with each eye in turn, whilst keeping the other one closed.  I do the same in my own home, but sitting at the table and staring at the top piece of trellis out in the garden to check that I can still see the light above me.  At work, I stare straight ahead and check that I can see the top wall-mounted shelf through each eye.  When I had my third detachment with the oil still in, I couldn’t see the shelf at all.  I was excited when I returned to work after my third surgery and realised that I could actually see it again. Of course I’m well aware that doing this kind of thing makes me look either slightly crazy or possibly somewhat over-familiar because of the amount of winking which goes on, but I still find myself compelled to constantly check my vision in this way.  I’ve occasionally caught my work colleague gazing at me with a perplexed expression and had to explain what I’m doing.  Some days are worse than others, for some reason.  I have what I now call ‘paranoid eye days’, which are the particularly bad ones.  It’s comforting to hear from other people in the RD Facebook support group who report things like seeing a load of new floaters and then realising it’s actually ants on the wall, or jumping out of their skin because of flashes before hearing a clap of thunder following the lightening.  I was chatting to an eye buddy in the Netherlands a few weeks ago who said that sometimes she has to laugh at herself and what she must look like doing all the visual field checks, and other times it makes her want to cry because she doesn’t want it to rule her life.  We’re told by our surgeons to be vigilant and get any changes checked immediately, but this also makes us paranoid.  I don’t know what the answer is really, but if anyone has any useful suggestions, please let me know…

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3 thoughts on “I spy with my little eye something beginning with F…

  1. Carol Band

    Thanks for sharing your story. I detached about four years ago it’s been life (and vision) changing. I look different, I see different (worse). Lost lots of peripheral vision and have wavy vision. Driving is more difficult, night vision is bad and people sneak up on me all the time. Had the cataract operation and have been fighting iritis since the retina detachment. Tomorrow go for shots of steroids into my eyeball in attempt to knock out the iritis.
    None-the-less….I’ve resumed all activities swim, run, ski, do yoga, play music. What I don’t do it read to hard to shut one eye and try to focus. And I miss it.
    My doc says my “good eye” is latticed which scares me but there’s nothing to do about it.
    Thanks for letting me share my story.
    Carol

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    1. ejb117 Post author

      Thanks for sharing, Carol. It’s really encouraging to hear that you’ve managed to resume so many of your activities, particularly swimming which is something I miss very much. I hope the steroid shots are successful – let us know how it goes. Wishing you all the best for better eye health! 🙂

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  2. Pingback: ‘Get Norm’ | RD Ramblings

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