Menopause

Eyes: My Macular Hole

I saved this cartoon to go along with an easygoing post about eyesight as we age. Wow. Life gives us twists, and now my eye issues aren’t so easygoing.

They began when I realized my cute over-the-counter reading glasses were no longer strong enough. I went to the eye doctor, a bit nervous abut the exam. My dad had glaucoma that came on in later life.

The doc pronounced my eyes fine, although I do need to be monitored yearly for glaucoma. I picked out cute blue glasses.

But in the time between my eye exam and picking up the finished glasses, I noticed that my eyes seemed to be jumping around. Using the computer became difficult. Letters were slightly out of place. I had trouble getting a comma where it’s supposed to be. Cliff pointed out typos in Facebook posts.

Although it was hard to determine definitively,the problem seemed to be with my left eye. It felt like it was running up a hill and couldn’t  catch up with the right one. I have an astigmatism and google told me that asigmatisms get worse with age. Could that be the trouble?

A few days later, I got my new glasses. Love how the magnetic sunglasses snap on as if by magic.

The glasses definitely helped me read, but the text still seemed jumpy. Friend and blog reader Stephanie works at my eye doctor’s practice. She quickly set me up for another appointment.I hoped they could simply tweak my prescription and all would be well.

At the appointment though, things went south when the technician said, “Mrs. Younger, I’ve tried a weaker lens and a stronger one. Neither works. The problem is with your eye.”

They dilated my eyes and took lots of pictures. The doctor asked me about my health, especially diabetes. I finally spoke about my deepest fear: “I’m concerned the problem could be neurological.” I knew that a lot of serious brain issues, such as tumors, first manifest themselves through failing eyesight

“The problem is definitely not in the front of your eye. We’ll start with the back of your eye and then go further back if we need to.”

“Further back” meant beyond my eye and possibly into my brain.

They took more pictures  on two different machines and found this. A hole in my retina.

It may sound odd to be relieved you have a hole in  your eye, but I was. The doctor was too.  “I’m glad we found this,” he said, looking at the film again. “I don’t like mysteries.”

Next step was a retina specialist.

The next day, at the specialist, they flashed a zillion lights in my eyes. Over and over again I was asked to look up, look to the high right, look to the side ride, etc. (My eyes were sore for several days afterwards.)

Next they gave me an IV and injected dye into my arm. This turned the world a lovely rose for a few minutes as they took more pictures. (I later read the dye tests for eye tumors and circulation issues. Yikes!)

When the testing was over, Cliff and I waited for the doctor in her examining room, Cliff studied the eye charts on the wall. “The eye sure is fascinating,” he said with enthusiasm. At that moment, I wasn’t so sure.

After the doctor spent a long time looking at my eyes, she gave me the official diagnosis: a macular hole. She said twice during the discussion, “You did nothing to cause this, and you could have done nothing to prevent it.”

As we age, the vitreous fluid pulls away from the retina. If you’re unlucky, it takes a bit of the retina with it. Read more here.

Here’s  a grid you can use to test your own eyes. I wish I had known about this six weeks ago. When I look at the grid with my right eye, the lines are straight. When I look at it with my left eye, the eye with the macular hole. they’re wavy.

I’m able to wait until after the family beach trip to have the surgery, which is called a “vitrectomy.”  The doctor will inject a gas bubble into my eye. Somehow, as the bubble dissipates, it causes the hole to close up. At least this works in ninety percent of the cases.

For a week after the surgery I’ll need to keep my head down for 45 minutes out of every hour. You can rent special equipment such as this chair to make the process more comfortable. This chair was NOT in my decorating plan for our new house.

The surgery may not restore my vision in that eye, but it should prevent the hole from growing and hopefully, stop my eye from jumping around. The procedure will cause the eye to grow a cataract, so a few months after the surgery, I will need cataract surgery.

I plan to blog about the experience just like I did my endometrial cancer. 

Keep your eyes open. More to come!