Saturday, March 20, 2010

A tear in the retina

Just over a week ago, on Thursday morning, I got into the car to make the three mile drive to the University. Shortly after leaving the house I noticed what appeared to be something like a # sign in my upper right eye. This turned into a black line that, as I continued along the road reached all the way down the right side of my vision. And it was followed by waves of small spots that swept across my view, from the right, gradually first blurring and then cutting back on what I could see as i pulled into the parking lot.

A quick call to my optometrist and I had an appointment for that afternoon. But as the morning wore on I gradually reached the point where I could not see out of my right eye. When I was examined the diffused blood within the eye made it impossible for the optometrist to see anything within the eye itself, and I was given an appointment the following morning at the Barnes Retina Institute in St Louis.

At the Institute the eye was still too blocked for even what seemed the very brightest of lights to penetrate well enough to show the problem. But with an ultrasonic probe it was possible to see that there was at least one tear in the back of my retina which had caused the bleeding that was the evident result of the problem. I was, accordingly, given an appointment for surgery this past Monday morning. The Actress was kind enough and diligent in repeatedly taking me into (and from) St. Louis, even though she herself was engaged in rehearsals for performances which have been going on in the latter evenings of this week.

The surgery took about an hour, there were apparently two sites that needed to be tied back to the retinal wall, using a laser to do the “welding.” And the majority of the debris in the eye was drained out, and an air bubble injected to hold the area that had been worked on in place, until it could re-establish. (While it was done under a local anesthetic, I was given a general one to allow that to happen, and my memory of the whole event is extremely clouded).

After a check on the Tuesday to ensure that there was no infection, I was able to come home (we had spent the previous night in St Louis as a precaution). By Wednesday I could see out of the top of the right eye (looking down through the air bubble gave a clear but offset view when I looked down), and over the week as the air bubble has shrunk (with my head six inches from the table it now covers the area of my palm when placed on the table). When I look at the laptop screen, the bubble now only covers part of the keyboard as I type. I can almost read these words as I write them (the definition comes from my left eye) since there is still some small debris in the eye, and that will only be absorbed through time.

I am left very impressed with the strides of modern medicine, the benefits of Medicare (I retired at the end of last Month) and the skills of the team that so rapidly brought me back to functionality. And as my eye strengthens I will be returning to more regular posting. I gather that the air bubble, which is steadily shrinking, should be gone by the beginning of the week.

Thanks again for the good wishes.


  1. H.O.

    So sorry to hear that, and best wishes for a swift recovery!

  2. Sorry about your unpleasant experience! Glad you are on your way to recovery!

  3. Glad to see you back so quickly and on the mend.

  4. Glad to have you back Dave. Hope everything returns to normal nicely.

    I doubt a problem like that would have been solved as swiftly in this part of the world. At least without spending a good deal of €€€€ at a private hospital.

  5. Thank you for the kind thoughts, the air bubble has now disappeared, and my vision is much restored.

  6. Me and my eye doctor, Indianapolis based, wish to congratulate you on your recovery. What kind of treatment did you undergo, if you don't mind me asking?

    If you’re interested in information about optometrist, Indianapolis (IN), you can check out the links I’ve provided. Thanks and more power to BitTooth!

  7. Congratulations on your recovery. Like Fran, I'm also curious as to which type of treatment you had underwent. Is it LASIK?

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  8. More likely, torn retinas are an indication of serious eye damage due to physical activities and accidents from sharp materials/elements. Arizona optometrist professionals say that frequent eye injury may lead to blindness when you least expect it.

  9. RR
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