Saturday, May 10, 2014

Retina Attachment Surgery my Personal Experience.

The first week of April 2013 I had retina attachment surgery.   I thought I'd write about this experience and what it means.  As is usual this will be in the form of a poorly written ramble..

Before this operation I'm not sure for how long a month or so I began to notice that in my right eye on the bottom right it looked like there was a black spot there.  Just a black spot not too large and I knew it wasn't a floater.  I was recovering from an illness and really wasn't too worried about it.  It seemed like I noticed it the most at night sitting down and watching a the TV.   Over time this spot started to get larger and began to fill the bottom part of my eye.  I remember going to bed thinking that if if didn't get better by the next day I'd call my optometrist.  Well it didn't get better and in the afternoon I called my optometrist office and explained and asked to come in.  They were closing up but said if I could get there soon they would wait for me.   I got there within 15-20 and they examined my eye.  They took a picture of the back of my eye.  That's when I knew something was wrong since they got excited like they don't see this often.  The doctor said I might have a detached retina and they called a retina doctor  that he  had referred me to a few eyes earlier for another problem..  The retina  doctor's office was also closing but they said they would wait for me..  I got there and the retina doctor examined me and sure enough I had a detached retina.  He scheduled me for surgery the next day.  Fortunately that day was the day in the week that he does all his surgeries.  I got to the day surgery place around 10:30 the next morning.   I was the last person he operated on that day and it was around 3.
   The operation was interesting since I was have awake and half anesthetized.  An interesting state of conscientiousness.  The surgery take about an hour.  I was put in a recovery room .  Around 6-7 I was allowed to go home and a friend picked me up and took me home.
     In case you don't know what the retina is and what the surgery involves let me try to explain as well as I can with the limited knowledge that I have about the subject.  The retina is the area in the back of your eye where the lens in front of your eye focuses the imagine.  Its like the film in an old fashion camera or like the photodetector CCD's in digital camera.  Its the light sensitive part that sends the signal via the optic nerve to the brain where the brain processes the signal to make an image.  When the retina is detached its like you have no film in the camera and you can't take pictures, but in the case of the eye you can't see..  Its actually pretty scary if you think about it.  Before these types of surgery you might have gone completely blind depending on how much of the retina comes off.  So using a laser the doctor reattaches your retina to the back of your eye.  Think of the laser as kind of gluing the retina to the back of your eyeball..  The doctor then replaces the fluid in your eyeball with a gas to help push the retina to the back of your eye.  Also you keep your head down after the surgery and this air bubble pushes up on the retina to hold it there so that your body can take over and heal the retina back in its place.  So you have to keep your head down for at least a week and sleep on your stomach if you can or at least sleep on your side that will allow the bubble to push the retina to the back of your eye.  You then get to know the folks in the retina doctors office since you see them at least once a week for a couple of months.  T
     When you go home from day surgery you have a bandage patch over your eye.  The next day you go in to see the doctor and they remove the patch and examine your eye.  They leave the bandage off since they want your eye exposed to air.
     So now the healing begins.  You can't see anything out of your repaired eye other than light and maybe some shapes.  I keep a journal as a spare memory and also wrote down the progress that I had as my eye healed here are some passages:

Retina attachment surgery Wed April 3
April 6:  Woke up could see zebra stripes on sheets!.   So happy.   Neck is sore from head down.
April 7:  Morning head still down.  Eye getting better clearer but still like underwater oscillates and wiggles as I move my head, image is like in jello, color is good its getting better,.
April 8: Vision is better, right eye vision a little clearer. Still have "yellow effect"  but not as bad but clearer, still can't read.
April 9:  Eye is getting better, vision is getting clearer.  Looking up taking eye drops can see the spacing between boards in ceiling have seen these the last few days.  Coordination between eyes is getting better..  Merging vision is getting better.  Still can't read but getting closer.  Still have jello wiggle in my eye.and color is better not yellow green as much (not sure if that was from light cover).
April 11:  Eye getting better sharper grocery receipt can tell printing on it but can't read it. Still have jello effect, color is better.  Both eyes working better together.    Images not shifted as much.
April 13:  Eye getting clearer slowly.  A drawing shows a little more than 3/4 bubble when looking straight ahead.  Still can't read with eye.but I think details are getting better..  Inside still can' see as well as outside.
April 15:  Vision seems better outside see creases in hand.  Still have jello effect. Drawing shows bubble at 60% when looking straight ahead.
April 21:  Eye seems about the same.
April 24: Saw retina doctor.He looked at right eye and was very pleased.  Said cornea was cloudy.  He seemed concerned about my cornea, asked if I rub my eyes.  I said no learned about that from my cataract surgery.  He was concerned asked nurse if Dr. N??? (his associate in the practice) was here.  A younger doctor comes in and looks at eye and he and retina doctor talk.  He asks about eye drops, says cornea might be like this due to preservatives in some eye cleaning drops.  Nurse writes down drops ro get.  Doctors both seem like they know problem and non=preservative drops should fix the problem.  (I later found out I had a cut or tear on my cornea and was referred to a cornea doctor who also did my cataract surgery).  Eye is irritated.
April 25:  Wonderful can see better.from eye, see individual tiles in the floor up close.  4-6 inches can read watch face!!!  On my back can see pulse in my eye, jiggle of bubble in my eye follows my pulse.
April 26:  Visions seems to be improving.
April 28:  Vision getting better.  Still have wiggly interface, bubble still there (drawing shows about 50%).  Can see heartbeat still in bed, eye jelly wiggles in unison with heartbeat.  Concerned bubble isn't getting much smaller.
April 30: Vision getting better, can see images on TV still not good enough to really see but better.  Vision yesterday was 20/40 I was surprised. and asked.  She said you can see the big E.  Just barely making out the big E was 20/40.  (Looking back that doesn't seems right).
May 2: Vision seems same, line seems same (must be referring to line the bubble makes in my eye).
May  4 Vision getting better can read big Lee's neon sign. Bubble is getting smaller.
May 6: Scratch on cornea, go to Optometrist. put contact bandage on, irritation gone away.  Eye getting better, vision images on TV clearer.
May 7: bubble smaller.
May 8:  Vision on TV is clearer, Optometrist sent me to cornea doctor, he put on another contact bandage.  Says I might lose my restore lens!

It goes on like this seeing retina doctor and cornea doctor over the summer.  At the end of August 2013 my health insurance ended so I had to stop seeing both my retina and cornea doctors.  I tried to get health insurance but was denied by health insurance companies due to my existing condition (I didn't even mention my eye problem).  Both representatives said wait to October and sign up with Obamacare.  I can't remember if they said Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act.  But they said I could get health insurance then.  By then I had an appointment  for I think one visit each in the fall.  When my health insurance started in January 2014 the vision in my right eye had stabilized.  I couldn't see well enough to read with that eye.  I couldn't tell if that was because of my retina damage or the cloudiness behind my artificial lens that both my retina doctor and cornea doctor said I had.   I was planning on making an appointment to see my retina doctor for a one year check up.  But....

Next post my personal experience with my left eye retina detachment...


  1. There have been huge advancements in eye surgery over the years, but it still is pretty scary walking into a room, knowing someone is going to be poking and prodding on your eye-balls. Glad you came through it ok, thank you for the detailed account of the surgery, and of your recovery. Sorry about the problem with your health insurance.

    Lucius Calhoun @ Bolton Vision Centre

  2. Glad to hear your eyes are getting better after the surgery. It must have been unsettling to notice the spot in the corner of your eye; I can't imagine what that's like. But, you took action, and by the sound of it, the guys doing the procedure sure knew their stuff.

    Barton Levesque @ Glenmore Vision Center