Eye am so glad everything is ok.

Eyelid.  Before.
Photo of my eyeball + contact courtesy of me, March 31, 2005

So for a couple of months now, I’ve been having minor vision problems.

Specifically, I had something floating in my line of vision (looks like a black speck) since June. At first I always thought there were gnats flying around my head; I was constantly swatting at imaginary flying things in front of my face. After a little while, I figured out it was my eyes. I thought it was due to lack of sleep, but since the spot didn’t go away after a few days, I made an appointment with my ophthalmologist to make sure it wasn’t anything scary like a retina detachment.

Since it was just one floater, I wasn’t too worried and when I went into see my eye doctor, I got seen by a visiting doctor who looked all over and thankfully couldn’t find a retinal tear or, worse yet, a retinal detachment; just the floater. He said that due to my extreme myopia (nearsightedness), this wasn’t too uncommon and that the floater was in my vitreous humor and that more likely than not it would settle over time. I was to return for a follow up in six weeks, but of course, if I experienced any symptoms of a retinal detachment, to call right away.

Six weeks passed and thankfully, no major changes except I saw some occasional flashes and the floater got bigger (but blurrier). But it didn’t settle. So I went back for my follow up, as directed.

Since I figured they would dilate my pupils again, this time I got smart and got Yoshi to come with me so I wouldn’t have to drive home with blurry vision.

This time, the regular ophthalmologist (not a visiting doctor) saw me and right away she said, “Oh look, I see your floater.” But then she got really upset because she saw some something else and some “elevation” which would typically indicate a retinal tear or detachment. She asked me, “Did I see you last time? No way I would have missed this. Did (the other regular doctor see you)?”

“No!” I said, not wanting the other regular doctor to get in trouble. “The visiting doctor saw me and said everything was ok.” (Incidentally, it was the other doctor’s birthday that day and she had just received a huge arrangement of flowers from her boyfriend. Wouldn’t have been nice for her to get in trouble on her birthday.)

Now I was getting a little panicked and she said she was going to put a giant contact lens thing in my eye to get a closer look. She was extremely thorough and kept looking and looking for a tear because, as she reminded me, “if it’s a tear, I can zap you right now. I have a laser in the other room.” Yikes! Eye zapping?!??!

After 25 minutes of looking for the tear, she started to wonder if I’d had a tear or detachment and then (lucky break for me) my eye started healing itself on its own. She said she couldn’t see anything wrong and chances were everything was fine now, but she wanted me to get a second opinion. She called over to the retina specialist doctor she personally went to and got me an appointment for “as soon as you can get there in Friday traffic.” She started yelling at Yoshi “Get directions! I’m getting on the phone so that Joz gets seen today!”

And out we ran to head over to the L.A. office of Retina-Vitreous Associates Medical Group. (Nice name, eh?)

So now I’m a little freaked out, even though my doctor had said everything was probably fine. Both my eyes were dilated and I had to wear those ugly “instant sunglasses” (they’re called “slip-in myds”) when we exited the building and headed toward downtown. In my hand, I had a referral form with my information filled out at the top and the reason for the referral: RETINAL DETACHMENT. Zoiks! (I was slightly comforted that my eye doctor said that she was going to write that to “make it sound more dramatic so that I could get seen right away.” But still.)

When we got to the Retina-Vitreous office, I filled out the paperwork even though I had a hard time seeing. I asked what my appointment time was and the lady behind the counter said, “Your appointment is for ‘As soon as you get here.'” Yikes!

I waited for a short while and then I had to go for a little intake session. The guy made me do some vision tests (Can you see this?). (I we seeing 20/20 out of my right eye and 20/25 out of my left eye). Then he gave me some numbing drops (which burned) and then took my eye pressure by poking me in the eye with a tonometry device (similar to this Tono-Pen). Surprisingly, getting poked on the eye with this thing didn’t hurt (maybe it was the numbing drops), but then he had to dilate my pupils AGAIN, even though I’d already had them done at my first doctor’s office.

After sitting around for a while, I got moved to the doctor’s office (I asked Yoshi to wait with me) and Dr Boyer peered into my eyes with a bright light (via the slit lamp). He agreed that my doctor was right to have me come over; he could see the elevation that she saw and said that it was understandable why she thought I might possibly have a detached retina. He said what I had was white-with-pressure (WWP) and white without pressure (WWOP), not a retinal tear or detachment.

According to Page 83 of Clinical Pathways in Vitreoretinal Disease By Scott M. Steidl, Mary Elizabeth Hartnett:

White With Pressure, White Without Pressure
These terms describe geographic areas of whitening in the midperipheral, equatorial, and peripheral retina. During indirect ophthalmoscopy without scleral depression, these areas are described as white without pressure. When a white reflex is detected with scleral depression, it is termed white with pressure.

All this means that my retina is OK, but I’m still at higher risk for a Giant Retinal Tear, but that as of now, things are ok. I just have to keep my eyes peeled (no pun intended) for any symptoms.

Thanks to Yoshi for being my chauffeur across town, and also for taking me out to dinner in Little Tokyo afterwards. Thanks also for feeding me guava gelato from Mikawaya. Yum.

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