It’s been just over a year since I suffered a detached retina in my right eye. With all my risk factors I should not have been surprised — but I certainly was — when the retina in my left eye detached this past weekend.
After returning home from an orienteering event on Saturday, I suddenly felt a heaviness in my left eye and a gray area in my lower field of vision. I’d had no early warning signs such as spots or flashes, and the shadow was not as dark as in my previous detachment. But I recognized the symptoms. While I considered going to the emergency room Saturday night, I decided to go to bed (although sleep eluded me), make sure Amit was safely back to the army Sunday morning, and first get one of my ophthalmologists to examine me.
On Sunday morning I contacted my local ophthalmologist. His receptionist’s response: “what makes you think you have a detached retina? …. you’ll have a very long wait … but come if you want to.” Fortunately, Dr. Desatnik in Bnei Brak, the surgeon who performed my cataract surgeries five years ago and has been my primary ophthalmologist since then, was in his office Sunday. His secretary told me to come right away. Yuval drove me in, Desatnik confirmed the retinal detachment and sent me to Sheva Hospital (Tel Hashomer) with an URGENT referral in hand.
The ophthalmologic unit at Tel Hashomer houses both an outpatient clinic and a surgical/hospital ward. I was examined in the clinic by Dr. Elhalel, the surgeon who operated on my previous retinal detachment. He admitted me to the hospital and put me on his surgery schedule for Monday morning. Since my right eye’s vision had been completely restored, without even needing new glasses, I felt relieved and confident being in Dr. Elhalel’s care once again.
Surgery took about an hour and a half. The anesthesiologist kept me awake but blissfully sedated. Recovery feels much easier this time. Unlike last time, I’ve come through this surgery without corneal abrasion, without painful stitches (although they do itch), and less hemorrhaging in the eye.
I was discharged from the hospital Tuesday morning. I’m now home and taking it easy. During surgery a gas bubble was inserted in my eye to push the retina back against the wall of the eye. So, for the next six weeks I have to keep my head erect at all times, even during sleep, to keep the bubble in place.
Why did this happen to me? I simply have many of the risk factors.
Did anything in particular precipitate the detachment? Probably not.
I feel lucky. I recognized the signs and sought medical treatment almost without delay. I am confident that my eye will recover completely. But during my hospital stay I met other patients who did not realize the severity of their vision problem and did not seek attention soon enough. Their road to recovery will be much more difficult.
So besides wanting to share my news, I feel I must sent out an important message. If you ever experience strange sensations or disturbances in your vision — don’t wait for it to go away. Get medical attention immediately!
Remember, sight is precious — and irreplaceable.