Since dealing with retinal detachment, I appear to have picked up a number of behavioural quirks and odd habits. I’m able to laugh at some of them at times, but at other times I feel as if I’m going everso slightly mad. Here are just a few of them, together with explanations in the hopes that people will understand that there is a reason behind my sometimes strange behaviour…
- The checking visual field tic
This is when I sit in a certain place and shut one eye then look up, down, left and right with the other eye, to ensure that I haven’t lost any more peripheral vision before proceeding to do the same thing with the other eye. My office buddy at work has now got used to this, and simply asks in a matter-of-fact manner whenever she catches me doing it, ‘Is everything okay?’
- The “Oh my God, I’ve just seen a new floater” tic
This takes the form of jumping in extreme alarm at any black object which happens to suddenly catch my eye. It can be anything from a fly, a spider, a swooping blackbird, or, as happened recently, my black umbrella cover floating gently to the floor. The jump, gasp, and sometimes shriek is generally followed by a couple of seconds of intense staring as i realise that the said fly / spider / blackbird / umbrella cover REALLY isn’t a new floater after all, and gradually my heart rate returns to normal.
- The staring in the mirror tic
Probably mistaken for deluded vanity when in public toilets, this is actually a compulsion to check my eye for redness, swelling, gunk, possible signs that the oil may have leaked through to the front of my eye, or just generally checking how dilated the pupil of my surgery eye is that day.
- The sudden staring off into the distance mid-conversation tic
I’m told that this can be quite off-putting. Well, trust me, it’s even more off-putting for me as I do this when I think I’ve ‘seen’ something which causes my heart to pound and teeth to clench in fear. Whatever it is that I think I’ve seen, it usually causes me to stand and stare in terrified concentration for a few minutes until I’m able to figure out a logical explanation for it.
- The “Does my eye look alright?” tic
This usually occurs in places where there’s no access to a mirror, and simply demonstrates the need for reassurance that yes, my eye does look relatively normal and there’s nothing immediate to worry about from the outside of it, at least.
So, for anyone reading this who is fortunate enough to have healthy peepers, please bear with us RD people and try to understand that, much as we would love to, we can’t escape from our waffy vision. I’m afraid I don’t know what the answer is in dealing with it all, but if anyone has any useful suggestions then please let me know…