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Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Good News and Bad
As I told you in yesterday's post, I've been having trouble with an eye for a few weeks, and yesterday I got an appointment with an eye doctor to check it out. It was a tiring afternoon at the hospital, with a lot of waiting. The answer I got was pretty much what I expected (already having sort of diagnosed myself with the help of the internet). Which in turn includes a mix of good and bad news...
With the help of Wikipedia (going from the Swedish article to the English one), I learn that in English the condition is called posterior vitreous detachment or PVD. It means that the vitreous humour which fills the eye behind the lens (humour to me has so far meant having fun!), shrinks and detatches from the retina. This is apparently a common thing in the ageing process, and especially if you are nearsighted - which I am, and have been since childhood. One of the symptoms of PVD can be a dramatic increase in the number and concentration of "floaters" in the eye. Floaters are deposits of various size, shape, motility etc within the eye. These are visible because of the shadows they cast on the retina or their refraction of the light that passes through them. They may appear as spots, threads or "clouds" which float slowly before the sufferer's eyes. Since these objects exist within the eye itself, they are not optical illusions but so called entoptic phenomena. (That is: You're not imagining them. They are there, within the eye.) And that is what's happening to me. I have this very irritating, dark grey "cloud" floating about in my right eye. It is especially noticable in reading, both on paper and on the screen.
The good news is that the condition in itself is not really "dangerous". There is some hope (but no promise) that the floaters might by themselves eventually drop to somewhere within the eye where they are less disturbing. Part of the bad news is that there is no treatment, and nothing anyone can do to prevent it. By the examination yesterday they were also able to determine that I have PVD on both eyes even though I've only been having this visual problem on one eye. There is also always a risk of damage to the retina in the PVD process; but I have not had any symptoms of that - flashes of light, or restriction of the visual field. (If one does, one should contact the hospital immediately. Damage to the retina can be treated with laser; untreated it can cause blindness.) The only advice the doctor could give me was - not to lift heavy things! [sigh] Well, since I'm already restricted when it comes to that (because of neck-shoulder-arm problems), I guess that little piece of advice should not be too hard to follow.
For the examination, I was given some eyedrops to dilate the pupil. This made my vision blurry for a few hours afterwards. They told me about this in advance because it means one shouldn't drive back from the doctor's. Well, I don't have a car anyway. Already being nearsighted, I had expected worse. I found myself perfectly able to take the bus again downtown and then walk the rest of the way home from there. I was glad I had thought of bringing my prescription sunglasses, though. Not only did I see better with those on (less disturbed by the light), it probably also spared the fellow human beings I met from being scared to death by the sight of my dilated pupils. Which I myself wasn't confronted with until I came home and faced the bathroom mirror:
I was also very tired from all the uncomfortable sitting upright in the waiting room all afternoon. (I was told to be there at two, and I arrived in good time. Had to wait until three before I got to see a nurse, and then another hour before I got to see the doctor. Seemed to be a lot of emergencies that day.) So I ended up going to bed at 7 p.m. (eyes closed and Venetian blinds drawn) to listen to an audio book for a couple of hours before I went to sleep.
This morning, my eye size was back to normal. (First picture.) But the cloud is still floating about... And it does make me tired. So I guess I will have to include this too "in the picture" when trying to adjust (again) my daily schedule. Taking breaks to rest my eyes as well as my neck etc.
Should add that I have less trouble watching TV than reading, because then I usually don't have to move my eyes over the screen so much, but can sort of park the cloud at the right corner of my eye.