Tag Archives: Eye Surgery

“Always look on the bright side of life”…

… but not too bright, for those of us with eye issues!  Musical accompaniment to this blog post can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUHTzEv9V-s and is, of course, provided by the motley Monty Python crew.  Naturally, being British (although in the current political climate I hesitate to admit that), I’m no stranger to the concept of using humour – often of the black variety – to cope with difficult circumstances.  It was often the best method of defusing situations with my Gran, when she was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.  Of course, occasionally this approach can backfire, as I discovered the time I informed her, with a perfectly straight face, that Winston Churchill was the prime minister and she believed me.  Fortunately, she quickly overcame her confusion and readily forgave me when my mum explained, with a glare in my direction, “No he’s not – don’t worry, it’s just Emma being silly again.”  (The addition of ‘again’ implies that I’m often silly, which obviously I vigorously refute.)

Anyway… looking on the bright side in the manner of Monty Python has helped me in my ongoing RD journey, and I know it’s helped many of my eye buddies too.  So I thought it might be fun to share some of my favourite examples of the importance of humour in getting through the horrendous RD journey…

Plan B
After my third lot of surgery, in January 2015, one of my friends posted a cartoon-type picture of herself offering me a tray with a couple of eyes rolling around on it, with the caption: “Even with every confidence in Emma’s recent surgery, Debbie put forward a fantastic plan B.”  Luckily, even in my groggy post-op posturing state, this did make me chuckle.  However, I must point out that I’ve had two more surgeries since then and my friend still hasn’t come up with the promised goods.  (Tut!)
A cartoon-type picture of my friend offering me a tray with a couple of eyes rolling around on it, with the caption: "Even with every confidence in Emma's recent surgery, Debbie put forward a fantastic plan B.".

Eye-related gifts
One of my eye buddies once caused great hilarity in the Facebook support group I belong to by posting a picture of a Christmas present he’d just received from his mum: a framed copy of a Snellen chart (the eye chart used to test visual acuity).  It’s just as well no-one’s ever done that for me, or I’d have it hung in a well-lit area with a chair placed precisely six metres away to enable me to test myself daily!
Speaking of this particular eye buddy, you can find another example of his humour in my post, Pre-appointment paranoia.

PVR ?  Nooooooooooo!
When sharing humorous eye-related incidents on the Facebook  RD support group, one of my eye buddies related a story which made me gasp in horror before giggling slightly hysterically.  It’s best told in his own words:  “The funniest thing that happened to me, as you may remember, following my RD surgery was when I visited my optician in a worried way at one point following a sudden onset of a shower of new floaters in the RD eye – it occurred about three months after my op. “OK, could you read these three letters on the eye chart please?” he says…..I look up at the eye chart with my good eye covered and immediately read the letters “P V R”. I quickly look away with a kind of groan and say “No….I don’t even want to THINK about that!”. He laughs, slightly embarrassed, and says “Well at least I can see that you’re managing to see the letters all right”. (He knows I’m reasonably knowledgeable about eye problems). Exam turns out to be totally clear with no problems found.”

Eye jokes
Then, of course, there are the eye jokes…
Q: “What’s the scariest thing to read in braille?”
A: “Do not touch.”

“Whilst cooking today, I accidentally rubbed some herbs in my eyes.  I’m now parsley-sighted.”  [G r o a n !]

Or this one – a picture of a patient sitting in front of a Snellen chart and holding binoculars up to his eyes, as the white-coated doctor barks, “No cheating!”.  (Don’t we all just wish we had a pair of binoculars at times, when squinting and scrunching our eyes up to try and decipher the letters on that chart?!)
A patient sitting in front of a Snellen chart and holding binoculars up to his eyes, as the white-coated doctor barks, "No cheating!".

Blind driving
The only thing which has ever made me actually laugh out loud when specifically discussing eye issues and driving is this little gem, posted by one of my eye buddies: http://imgur.com/gallery/fIVfPwG.  It’s a short video clip which could accurately be captioned, ‘driving with a long cane’.

Puns
Then there are the little puns which come up in day-to-day life… for example:
A couple of years ago, over a Boxing Day game of Scrabble, my sister surveyed her tiles and casually remarked, “I don’t want to make you jealous, but I have three ‘i’s!”
And:
During a recent chat with an eye buddy, I observed that he seemed to be a bit hyperactive.  “It’s called humour”, he shot back, “I used to have some in my eye!”.

‘Blind’ man predicaments
Finally, another one which made me gasp is a spoof video of a ‘blind’ man getting into all sorts of predicaments whilst walking with his long cane, available at:  https://www.instagram.com/p/BevMNizHvCm/. This one was sent to me by the VIP* I met up with a couple of weeks ago.  (*Very Important Person, that’s right!)  It’s not so much the man himself, but the reactions to him by passers-by which are so entertaining to watch!

If you have any eye-related jokes or humorous incidents, please do give us all more to laugh about by sharing them in the comments below… 🙂

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Tears and tears

One of the positive side effects of life as an RD patient (stop spluttering dear Reader – I’m not a negative person, despite what some people say) is that we get to meet other RD patients and by doing so we sometimes get to know people that we would otherwise never have crossed paths with.  Chatting to other RD patients brings many benefits: we share tips and information; it makes us feel less alone as we’re all going through or have been through similar experiences; we celebrate each others’ good news and support one another through the grim times and the many blips along the way.  There’s a certain member of the RD support group on Facebook who often says that if it wasn’t for that group, we’d all be alcoholics by now.  She has a point, and I’m not even a fan of alcohol!  So when I got chatting to a new eye buddy via a comment left on this blog and we had a discussion about tears, I asked him if he’d fancy writing a ‘guest blog post’ about his thoughts.  He was still in the grim recovery period after posturing but before being permitted to return to ‘normal’ (for some) life, so naturally I thought writing about eye related matters might take his mind off things a bit.  This may seem like chopped logic, but writing can be very cathartic.  Much to my delight, he agreed with alacrity and so without further ado, here’s his blog post…

Hi my name is Simeon and I’m a comparative RD newbie. I recently had emergency surgery for a detached retina at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (Moorfields?? Pah!!). I had to posture for a week, 18 hours per day on my right side. After devouring all I could about RD on the Tube of You and skating the interweb, I had run out of information. I happened to stumble upon ‘RD Ramblings’, a poorly written and mediocre blog…( oh thanks Emma, [pockets £20 note] where was I???) Oh yes, I was amazed by the eloquence and humour (no eye pun intended) in the writing.

Emma has unfortunately amassed an extensive knowledge of retinal surgery due to her ongoing complications. However, rather than dwelling in self-pity she has written all these wonderful stories with a playful eye (the good one). After pocketing the bribe, I complimented her on all her stories. I had read at least 3 each day when posturing and could quote lines from each of them to her! They made me smile whilst at the same time informing me about various surgical techniques, PVR, lettuce degeneration (a fridge is handy) etc.

She told me later that she cried tears* of joy about my comment, but also tears* of sadness for my condition. It made me think of how the same word “tear” can have different meanings. If you think of the sentence; “The man awoke in the eye hospital with a tear in his eye”, the average person would assume he was feeling sad. However for those of us who have had RD surgery and are panicking at every black dot we see… well we would see that word “tear” and feel a sense of dread. Which made me think…

Tears* are good for us, they help to lubricate the eye as we blink and wash away any foreign bodies (I have a couple of ‘foreign bodies’ in my back garden but shhhh!!). Tears* can be a sign of great joy at the kindness shown by others, but also helping to release stress when feeling great sadness.  You can have tiers on a wedding cake… yum!  Tears* may also be found in the eyes of the groom as he views his amazing new wife or ponders his new lack of freedom! It all depends on how optimistic or cynical you are…

However, tears** is quite a brutal word, similar to when you rip or burn music to and from an audio CD. You can use force to tear** something open or apart, or tear** very fast along a road, which implies excessive speed. If you’re an ant, you can move quickly across the top of a cereal box…(tear** along the dotted line). And of course, our old favourite the retinal tear** eek!!

I thought it would be interesting to share how the same word can mean completely different things to different people. Most of us reading this would unfortunately have experienced both tears** and subsequently floods of therapeutic tears* at the same time. So next time you see the words tears* or tears** ask yourself which description immediately pops into your head…

Thank you Emma for your amazing, wonderfully funny and informative blogs [no we agreed on £40… ahh thank you!] xx

Note 1:
Tears* = the clear salty liquid secreted from the glands in a person’s eye when they cry or when the eye is irritated.
Tears** =
a hole or split in something caused by it having been pulled apart forcefully. These definitions have been taken from the Oxford English Dictionary.

Note 2:
Huge thanks to Simeon and all my wonderful eye buddies for being so amazingly supportive – I honestly don’t know how I would get through this eye crap without you guys.  If any of you fancy doing a ‘guest blog post’ about something, please give me a shout as I think this could be quite a fun thing to do now and then! 🙂

 

Attributes of an RD patient

Working in a university means that I’ve heard an awful lot about ‘graduate attributes’ lately.  ‘Graduate attributes’ appears to be the latest buzz phrase in the plot to try and convince students that they’re not wasting their money and graduating with a mountain of debt in vain worthy aim of higher education institutions to not only provide students with a good solid education in their chosen field, but also to make them responsible, respectable and, above all, employable citizens.  Basically, ‘graduate attributes’ appears to be a marketing strategy to boost student recruitment and improve league table results set of qualities and skills which students are encouraged to develop during their time at university.  These vary from one institution to another, but typical examples include the following: confidence, digital literacy, adaptability, integrity, effective communication skills… the list goes on and on.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if tuition fees are actually trebled soon, if students continue to graduate with such impressively long lists of transferrable skills.

But I digress.  Hearing so much about ‘graduate attributes’ got me thinking about what the typical attributes of a seasoned retinal detachment patient might be.  So I set up a working party, a focus group, and a couple of committees and then came up with the following list:

  1. Patience
    Waiting in hospitals for appointments; waiting for our eyes to dilate; posturing for hours and hours with our heads stuffed into pillows, bones digging into mattresses, and muscles aching; waiting for gas bubbles to disperse; waiting and hoping that our retinas have successfully reattached…  It’s clear from all this that it’s pretty much impossible to be an impatient RD patient.
  2. Determination
    Those hours, days, weeks, and sometimes even months of painful posturing which we force ourselves through because we know it’s the one positive thing we can actually do to try and get the sodding retina to stick demonstrates our gritty determination in the face of physical and mental torture.
  3. Resilience
    This one is particularly appropriate for those of us who have had to endure multiple detachments and surgeries.  Our vision changes dramatically from blindness, to light perception, to weird wobbly shapes and crooked edges, to underwater fuzziness.  After each detachment and each surgery we have to accustom ourselves to further visual changes, but we get up again (once we’re given the all-clear to stop posturing) and we just keep ploughing on…  In fact, the lyrics of this song’s chorus seem particularly appropriate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LODkVkpaVQA.  If you’re an RD patient, join me right now in having a listen and singing along to the chorus REALLY loudly.  🙂
  4. Anxiety
    Okay, now I get this is supposed to be a list of positive attributes, but I like to take a realistic approach.  Clearly the same can’t be said of ‘graduate attributes’ as neither ‘getting drunk on cheap beer in the student union’ nor ‘leaving half-eaten plates of mouldy food around in a shared house’ seems to feature on any of the lists I’ve read so far.  But anyway – unfortunately, anxiety certainly seems to be extremely common in RD patients.  Eyesight is precious.  It’s the sense which people fear losing above all others.  It’s therefore perfectly understandable that we often feel anxious about the very real risk of further sight loss.
  5. A sense of perspective
    As mentioned above, RD is grim and life-changing.  Eye surgery is frightening, and its after-effects of often overwhelming anxiety can be utterly exhausting at times.  However, I have found that this has led to a useful sense of perspective when faced with other unpleasant / dull / tedious / scary things I have to do.  I simply ask myself the question: “Is it as bad as eye surgery?”.  The answer, so far, has always been a resounding, “No”.  So then I just crack on and do whatever it is that I have to do.
  6.  Awareness of true friends
    They say you find out who your true friends are when you’re going through a hard time, and I can confirm this to be absolutely true.  It can be hugely upsetting and disappointing to discover that someone you’ve known for years and believed was an old friend is actually not a true friend; however with number 5 in mind, I’ve learnt that it’s better not to waste time on such people.  Instead, it’s far more helpful to focus on the genuine people in our lives and enjoy spending time with them.
  7. Extended swearing vocabulary
    When your retina detaches again, and again, and again, and AGAIN (okay, you get the picture), a short, sharp explosion of expletives can prove to be extremely satisfying in releasing pent up frustration.  It turns out that there’s a wide variety of adjectives with which to describe a retina which won’t remain attached, apart from ‘sodding’.

So that’s my list of RD patient attributes.  If you can think of anything else which you believe should be on that list, just let me know in the comments below!  Writing this post has made me realise that I’ve learnt some far more valuable lessons from dealing with RD than I did during my three years as a student.  Never mind my 2.1 in Art and English; I just wish I could graduate from my RD experience with 6/6 vision…

Splish splash splosh (or how to get eye drops in)

One day at work recently, I’d just had lunch with my friend and was about to set off to take the minutes at a hideously dull committee meeting in a room with ghastly bright glarey lights so I paused to pop in some lubricating eye drops before heading off to endure the rest of the afternoon.  I was sitting with my head tipped back and the bottle of eye drops poised over my eye when my friend suddenly declared loudly, “Splish splash splosh!”  This caused me to laugh, which made my hand shake and a torrent of drops splashed onto my cheek, somehow managing to completely miss my eye.

Although I can’t always blame my friend, I do frequently manage to miss my eye completely and end up with eye drops running down my face, soaking into my top, or even finding their way into my ear on several occasions.  Now, with lubricating drops it isn’t so much of an issue, but with eye drops which are prescribed medication it’s vital to get the darn things in properly.  It’s also important to remember that if you’re prescribed more than one set of eye drops, you should wait at least five minutes before putting the next one in.  This is to ensure that the first drop isn’t washed away or diluted by the second drop.

One of the most effective methods I’ve found in getting the pesky things in is by following the instructions of one of the nurses at Moorfields, who showed me the knack after my third lot of surgery.  This is what she told me to do:

  1. Wash your hands (obviously!).
  2. Tip your head back.
  3. Hold the bottle of eye drops lengthways between your fingers and thumb, with your thumb underneath the side of the bottle.  Place the nail bed of your thumb in the dip where your nose meets your forehead, so that the nozzle of the bottle is being held over your eye (but not touching it).
  4. With your other hand, gently pull down the skin underneath your eye slightly to make a pocket.
  5. Squeeze the bottle gently until a drop falls into the pocket.  You should feel it, even if you can’t see it coming!
  6. Close your eye for a few minutes and wipe away any excess drops with a clean tissue.  Wipe gently from the side of your eye nearest your nose out to the outer edge, and don’t re-use the same piece of tissue if you need to wipe more than once.
  7. Put the lid back on the bottle and wash your hands.

You can find a link to a short YouTube video from Moorfields about how to put your eye drops in here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgodZZ2N2wY.

Alternatively, it’s possible to purchase an eye drop dispenser, which is a little gadget designed to help people administer their eye drops more easily.  I’ve never tried using one, but I know that several of my eye buddies use them successfully.  If you search for ‘eye drop dispenser’ on Amazon, you’ll find a variety of different types at various prices.  In fact, there’s so much choice that when I did consider that option a while ago, I felt somewhat overwhelmed and decided to stick with the method of the Moorfields nurse, which usually works for me.  However, if anyone reading this has used a particular eye drop dispenser and found it to be effective, it would be great if you could post a link in the comments below.  Plus, of course, any other handy tips on how to get eye drops in first time would be most gratefully received!

 

The persistent presence of pernicious Mr Pip

Mr Pip is on the prowl again.  While most of us are bemoaning the end of summer after reluctantly switching the heating on and setting the clocks back, Mr Pip looks on gloatingly as he points a skinny well-manicured finger and curls his thin lips in a satisfied smirk.  He seems to enjoy these dark, damp, chilly mornings, and takes delight in taunting me through the thick duvet just after the alarm clock has announced that it’s time to move, informing me gleefully: “It’s cold, and dark, and miserable outside.”  When I fling back the duvet in his face and pad, shivering, across the room to peep through the curtains, I see that he’s quite right.  It is cold and dark, and it makes me feel miserable.  I suspect that Mr Pip crosses the paths of a fair few people at this time of year, so you may well be familiar with him already.  If not, you might like to read ‘The unwelcome visitations of Mr Pip‘, which provides a full description of this most unpleasant fellow.  I’d strongly advise you to cross the street and avoid him if you spy him approaching.

Mr Pip is irritatingly omniscient, so as well as being aware of my dislike of the short, cold days and the challenge of driving in the dark at this time of year, he also knows fully well that appeals season – my favourite time at work – is now over and I’m suffering with a bad case of Appeals Withdrawal Syndrome.  Symptoms of this include: a reluctance to go to work, more frequent purchase of lottery tickets, increased frustration when the lottery people don’t select the correct numbers (i.e. mine), excessive yawning, and an almost overwhelming desire to hurl a stapler at my office buddy when she persists in talking to herself all day when I’m trying to concentrate.

Naturally, Mr Pip is also aware of the fact that I have a check-up appointment at Moorfields the week after next.  “They might find something wrong and want to operate again”, he constantly whispers into my ear, spitting slightly as he does so.  “Maybe they’ll whip you straight into surgery again”, he continues gleefully, “Or perhaps they’ll tell you that they need to remove your eye altogether!”  He claps his hands in delight and prods my forehead with his skinny fingers until he sees me reaching for the paracetamol, whereupon he announces, “A-ha!  A headache!  It must be your eye pressure increasing!  That’ll mean they’ll want to take your oil out.  They’ll take it out; they’ll take it out; they’ll take it out and throw it away, and then your retina will detach again!”, he sings, mockingly.  He dances around me, tapping his shiny black shoes on the floor in an irritating rhythm which causes an answering drum to beat loudly in my head.  Each time I summon up the energy to try and swipe him away, he simply dodges and laughs again as if he’s having the time of his life.

Sometimes it’s not even possible to escape Mr Pip when I go to sleep.  I’m convinced that he has the ability to shrink himself down until he’s the size of a Borrower, whereupon he creeps through my ear and into my brain where he settles down and narrates bedtime stories to me from inside my head.  Stories about being late to hospital appointments; stories about writing down the wrong information from the consultant in my little eye book; stories about being trapped in some kind of dark underground world filled with dangers;  being chased; unable to see some horrendous threatening presence looming, coming closer and closer, faster and faster, until it’s right THERE!  And then I wake with a huge jump, heart pounding, and raise my head to stare at the dim rectangle of light coming in through the curtains as I open first one eye and then the other to check that I can still see.

As is usually the case, there’s no point in applying logic to the problem of Mr Pip or attempting to argue with him.  Pleasant distraction seems to be the only thing that really works in banishing him for a while.  Fortunately, I’m reading rather a good book at the moment and retreating into a fictional world is always an effective method of escapism.  There are also cakes which need baking, in preparation for an imminent fundraising event for Moorfields Eye Charity and Marie Curie.  Despite Mr Pip’s constant whining voice telling me that it’s cold and damp and grey outside, at weekends I layer up and go out for walks, defiantly pointing out to him that the air is still fresh, there’s much beauty to be found in nature, and it’s good to make the most of these short hours of daylight.  This causes Mr Pip to sulk, and he hunches his skinny shoulders and scuffs his shiny shoes along the ground as he drags himself away like a moody teenager.  Perhaps I should treat him as such and, next time he starts whining in my ear, tell him in that particular parental tone favoured by parents who also happen to be teachers, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”  Yeah, pipsqueak!

 

The curse of PVR

“PVR is from the devil!”, one of my eye buddies frequently declares with feeling, whenever the subject is broached.  She should know.  Her eight-year-old son has had five retinal detachments in his left eye and undergone over thirteen surgeries as a result of PVR.  Currently, he’s lost almost all vision in his eye and is only able to see some motion and colours.  PVR is the cause of my five re-detachments following the initial surgery to fix my first detachment back in April 2014.  PVR is a curse, and those three little letters strike fear into the heart of any RD patient, for we know the devastation and utter misery that it can cause.

“So what exactly is PVR?”, I hear you ask.  When a friend asked me this question recently, I simply answered, “Oh, it’s the thing that keeps making my retina detach – it’s like bad scar tissue, which keeps pulling the retina off again”.  That seems the simplest and quickest way of explaining it to someone who knows little about eye issues, but even the reference to scar tissue can be a bit confusing.  You see, there’s the ‘scar reaction’ which occurs after laser or cryotherapy, which basically welds the retina back together.  I think of this as ‘good scar tissue’.  In contrast, I think of PVR as ‘bad scar tissue’.  I did once have a conversation along these lines with a retinal surgeon, and he agreed, “Yes, I see what you mean”, when I explained my confusion about the difference between the scar reaction of the laser and the scar tissue of PVR.

Okay, so let’s get down to the complicated bit… PVR (or proliferative vitreoretinopathy) is a disease which is a major complication that can occur following retinal reattachment surgery.  It occurs in 5-10% of all rhegmatogenous retinal detachments (retinal detachment as a result of a tear in the retina).  Although PVR can be treated with surgery and reattachment of the retina can be achieved, the visual outcome is often extremely poor and PVR is the main cause of failure of retinal reattachment surgery.

Retinal detachment happens when a hole or tear in the retina results in vitreous fluid seeping through the hole and getting underneath the retina, pulling it away from its place at the back of the eye.  Imagine the retina as being like a wallpaper, lining most of the inside of your eye, apart from a small section at the front.  Now think about when you strip wallpaper off a wall, and how you use an instrument to create a tear in the paper and water to soak through and lift the paper off the wall.  If you think of the wallpaper as your retina and the water as the vitreous fluid inside your eye, that’s sort of what’s happening when a detachment occurs.  Of course, technically the room would be filled with water, but that’s just weird.  ANYWAY… during the process of retinal detachment, the vitreous fluid comes into contact with RPE cells (retinal pigment epithelium) just below the retina.  (In our wallpaper-stripping example, I guess this would be the brickwork, or maybe the mortar.)  As a result of the retinal tear, the RPE cells are able to migrate out into the vitreous.  The cells then proliferate and form fibrotic membranes (or scar tissue), which can then contract and pull at the retina, causing it to re-detach.

To complicate matters further, there are different types of membranes which can form, depending on which side of the retinal layers the cells settle in and which other cells are involved.  One type forms like a sheet and doesn’t necessarily affect retinal reattachment surgery; the other forms as thick membranes which cause traction, thereby pulling at the retina.  These need to be removed before the retina can be reattached.  Naturally, these are the ones which I have.  [Pauses to wail in loud misery.]  Since reading up on all this, I now understand why I’ve had three retinectomies.  A retinectomy is the procedure whereby the surgeon physically cuts away the part of the retina which won’t lie flat due to PVR.  Nothing has ever caused me to assume such a death-like pose as the moment I heard the surgeon utter the words, “Can I have the cutter, please?”, during my fourth surgery under local anaesthetic.

So why do only 5-10% of RD patients get struck down by the curse of PVR?  Although it really does often feel like some kind of terrible punishment for some unknown dreadful crime I’ve committed, I’m assured that this isn’t the case.  From what I’ve read, it seems that PVR is more likely to occur alongside any of the following circumstances: a large retinal hole or tear, a macula-off detachment, vitreous haemorrhage, aphakia (no natural lens in the eye), a long period of time between detachment and surgery, multiple surgeries, and poor surgery itself.  My initial detachment was macula-off and I waited two days for surgery, but it’s pretty normal to have a wait once the macula has detached as a delay of up to a week doesn’t affect the final visual outcome.  My current consultant (who just happens to specialise in PVR) explained to me that once someone has PVR they will always have it.  From what I can gather, the effects of PVR – particularly in the more severe cases, which mine is – can clearly be seen on the retina, but even if the surgeons are able to remove the worst of it and reattach the retina, there will still be cells floating around in places that they shouldn’t be within the eye.  A further huge problem is that PVR is a process, and inflammation can aggravate that process.  So every surgery unavoidably causes inflammation within the eye, which then risks activating the PVR once more.  It really is a vicious circle.  PVR is the enemy of the RD patient, and it needs to be beaten.  Just as Jules Gonin made a massive breakthrough in RD surgery by discovering the importance of locating the retinal tear (have a read of my earlier post, Hurrah for Jules Gonin if you’re wondering what I’m talking about here), now we need a modern day Jules to crash through the PVR barrier and bring hope to those of us who live with its curse.

Note: Please note that I am not an ophthalmologist or an expert in PVR; I have written this simply as a frightened patient afflicted with PVR.  For anyone interested in doing some further reading on the subject, you can find a selection of some of the articles which I’ve found helpful below.  If any of my eye buddies have any interesting/useful information to add, it would be great if you could share it by including it as a comment below.  🙂

The dentist’s ceiling

Nobody likes going to the dentist’s; it’s just one of those things in life that we have to grit our teeth and get on with [pun intended].  As with many day to day things which are taken for granted by most people, it’s also something which a lot of RD patients tend to worry about.  “Will the vibrations of the dental instruments affect my retina?”; “Will it be okay to lie back in the dentist’s chair?”; “What if I need treatment – will it be safe to have a filling?” .  I consider myself fairly fortunate on the dental front, unless you count the six extractions to make space in an overcrowded mouth (a clear design fault there!) and the dreaded ‘train tracks’ of my teenage years, which pushed me to the very fringes of ‘the out crowd’ at school.  As I’ve got older, a recurrent fear of my annual trips to the dentist has been, “Oh no – this time I might actually need a FILLING!”   However, one positive of RD and multiple eye surgeries is that in comparison with that horror, a visit to the dentist’s is a piece of cake.  (Cake with reduced sugar content, obviously.)  Also, as I pointed out to a friend, if I ever do need false teeth, at least they’re capable of doing the job required.  Unlike a prosthetic eye, which would function merely to preserve outward appearance.

After my first two RD surgeries, the time between my dental check-ups had stretched to well over a year, but I eventually plucked up the courage to make an appointment.  Upon being asked the customary question: “Has anything changed in your medical history since your last appointment?”, I explained that I’d had some eye surgery for retinal detachments.  “Oh well, I’ll try not to poke you in the eye then”, he said breezily, completely oblivious to my icy glare as he rattled his instruments of torture dental equipment on the little tray by his side.

I haven’t mentioned the eye surgery since that first time, although after surgery number five I did check with the ophthalmologist that it would be okay to go to the dentists, and he said it would be fine.  I still get nervous about going though, and often put off making the appointment.  This year’s reluctant visit took place a few weeks ago.  After scrupulously brushing my teeth in the loos after work (I assumed that the sign declaring, “This sink is for hand washing only; please do not put paint down the sink” for the benefit of the Architecture students didn’t apply to toothpaste), I headed off to the dreaded dentist’s.

As I’m not supposed to lie on my back because of the silicone oil in my eye, I always wait until the last possible moment before lying back in the chair.  If he doesn’t start the examination immediately, I raise my head again until he’s ready.  I shut my eyes against the glare of the huge overhead lamp as he counts and prods and pokes at my teeth.  Obviously, I understand the need for the bright overhead lamp, but something which never fails to astound me is the large flat screen television mounted on the ceiling.  So when I cautiously half-open my ‘good’ eye to peer out at various points and see what he’s doing, I have to avoid the glare of both the overhead lamp and the huge bright television screen.  “Do any of his patients actually watch the television whilst undergoing dental treatment?”, I wonder each time I visit.  Is it there as a method of distraction?  Or because he stacks up so much spare cash from his extortionate charges that it seemed a good thing to splash out on?  I really have no idea, but if anyone does actually watch a spot of telly whilst undergoing their scale and polish, do let me know as I’m rather intrigued!

Fortunately, one good thing about my dentist is that he’s incredibly quick.  So without too much ado, I was able to sit upright again and allow the slight queasy dizziness to subside along with the floaters in my eye which had been stirred up by the oil sloshing around as a result of lying back.  All was fine, although as the receptionist informed me of the amount owing for the ten-minute appointment, I opened wide without being asked to, and had to swiftly catch my chin before it hit the desk.

Note: For a far more interesting story about eyes and teeth, check out the following: http://www.itv.com/news/utv/2017-06-22/glimpse-of-hope-after-rare-tooth-in-eye-surgery/