Thursday, August 12, 2010

More for the Aging Memo: Posterior Vitreous Detachment

Subtitle: Keep an Eye on Your Eyeballs if You Value Your Sight

Actually, this is a more serious post on something that can happen to your vision, and happened to someone very near and dear to my heart this week, who gave me permission to post this.

I want all of you to know about this, because it's potentially sight-saving.

Another thing that can happen as we age is that our vitreous in our eye can detach. You know how eyeballs are shaped kind of like grapes? The vitreous is the inside of the grape; the retina is like the back of the inside of the skin of the grape.

Picture a lovely gelatin dessert sitting in your refrigerator, and a fine little gratin dish (like those beautiful ones that Maria sent me at Christmas.) Now, picture having somehow forgotten one of those desserts in the refrigerator. . . . and it ages. . . and the gelatinous dessert gradually pulls away from the sides of the dish. That's your eye getting older, at least for about 60% of those over 80 (and for an unlucky few, like my loved one, younger than 80.)

As this vitreous pulls away, it can detach (tear away from the retina, for an unlucky 10% of the 60%), and even bleed (hemorrhage.) And untreated it can lead to permanent blindness.

On Saturday, my Dear Sweet Loved One noticed a new floater; a super duper icky booger of a floater. And then by Sunday, he noticed that his vision was cloudy, almost like his eyeball had sucked in some hazy smog from L.A., leaving him with about 40% of his vision in the one eye.

The floater is actually matter from the tear that's floating around in the vitreous, back and forth, hither and yon, across the field of vision. The smog/haze is really blood cells, as the vitreous detaches, leaking into the vitreous. These are not good.

A good thing is to get oneself as soon as possible to an eye doctor, or emergency room, and they will refer you to a retina specialist, pronto, with statements of "Not good. I don't like what I'm seeing."

My Loved one and I quickly cut short our little ground support-helping-our-daughter-move hobby and hoped for stay at a B&B and headed back to Grand Forks. Loved One was urged along from the eye doctor to the retina specialist and a cool, fancy surgery involving lasers (in a very Star-Wars-like fashion was done) to cauterize the hemmorage.

But since this wasn't enough to re-attach the vitreous, Loved One and I headed down to Fargo on Tuesday (about 70 miles south of Grand Forks) for a little more laser razzle-dazzle.

Eventually the floater-guber-booger may or may not dissolve and the smoggy haze may or may not lift, but it shouldn't get worse, which would be the Awfully Awful outcome that you want to avoid. It's best avoided by getting to medical types with fancy lasers pronto.

It's also less likely to ever need this if you avoid things (other than avoiding aging) like putting a great deal of pressure on the eye, like blowing your nose like a Decibel 100 blast, or abruptly lifting weights, or. . . . (use your imagination.)

This guy is happy that ole Dead Eye is slightly impaired (hopefully temporarily) in the vision department:


Nicki, said...

Yikes! I am so over due for an eye appt - and this urges me to get on the ball and schedule. Excellent close-up of the squirrel by the way.

Joanne said...

Yikes, I have a weird floater---I definitely will be calling the eye dr. The squirrel is cute!

Maria said...

I hope the imagination exercise doesn't have anything to do with sex . . . I mean, don't we lose enough as we age . . . ?

I'm so sorry that this happened but leave it to you to act quickly and not lose any precious time!

pat said...

Oh man--I am so glad to hear that you guys caught this in time! I can hear that cute obnoxious squirrel laughing at poor D's predicament. Doesn't he know his days are numbered? By the way--Happy Birthday!!

Samantha said...

Wow, how frightening! The eyes are something that I don't mess around with. I hope your Precious Loved One's vision returns to normal. As for the squirrel... I'm sure he's aware that his pardon isn't permanent. LOL!

Jeanne said...

Wow, thanks so much for sharing this. It sounds so scary! I hope for a full recovery and that that squirrel isn't able to snicker for too long.