There is nothing fun about hearing you have a retinal hole in your eye. Here is my overview of my diagnosis and treatment in New Jersey.
During my last yearly eye exam I had quite a few of my usual tests done. Now for a bit of background on my vision – it sucks. I have been wearing glasses or contact lenses since the fourth grade. I can remember back at that early age noticing that each day the white marks on the green chalk board getting more and more blurry. I used to raise my hand and ask to sit up closer to the board until I was finally about one foot away from it in my little chair. The teacher called my mother and said “I think it’s time for Adrienne to get some eye glasses.”
I always hid my difficulty with my vision from my mom. I didn’t want to wear glasses out of fear of being teased. I also played tons of sports and didn’t want to be worried about them falling off or getting broken. After visiting the eye doctor though I found some pretty rad frames and wearing glasses didn’t bother me so much – until high school. At that time I refused to wear them and was still too young (in my mother’s opinion) to wear contacts. Instead, I went to school without glasses and walked the hallways almost legally blind. I hated how I looked in glasses, keep in my back in the 90’s glasses were not cool or as nice as they are today, so until I was allowed to get contact lenses I just lived in a world of blurred faces and figures.
Fast forward to today – I’ve been wearing contact lenses for over 20 years and depend on them greatly. I am also guilty of sleeping in them most nights which is a total no-no. Every year when I visit the eye doctor he tells me my vision has gotten worse and every year I pay for a new pair of glasses that I love and tell myself I will wear them – but I don’t. I just happen to prefer contact lenses which are very natural to me and don’t give me terrible peripheral vision. My vision is -5.25 in both eyes and I also have astigmatism.
During my last eye exam two weeks ago my eye doctor spotted a red dot on one of the images they took of my left eye. After review he gave me the news that I had a retinal hole and that it needed to be fixed right away. He gave me a few pieces of paper of retinal doctors he was referring me to in order to have this repaired.
That night I went home and, of course, starting to Goole search “retinal holes” and started to get really nervous. My doctor assured me that when you have pretty bad nearsightedness retinal holes can happen. The shape of your eye when you are nearsighted is slightly larger than someone with perfect vision, therefore the surface of the eye stretches more, which can thin out this area and cause tiny holes or tears. If left untreated your vision can be blurry and even cause blindness.
What is a retinal hole?
A macular hole is a small break in the macula, located in the center of the eye’s light-sensitive tissue called the retina. The macula provides the sharp, central vision we need for reading, driving, and seeing fine detail. A macular hole can cause blurred and distorted central vision. You can see the red dot which is where the hole is. This is what I saw when my eye doctor review my images that day. He referred me to the Retina Center of New Jersey, LLC located in Bloomfield, NJ.
Upon my visit I met with the staff who put a few eye drops in my eye to dilate my pupils. They ran a few tests to see the pressure in my eyes as well as take some additional images for the doctor to review. After the images were taken I was able to see so many amazing views of my eye on the screen and sure enough I could see the tear/hole in my retina.
My doctor was so lovely – her name was Lauren A. Kallina, M.D. and after a quick look into my eye with a light and some special glasses she confirmed that at “4 o’clock” in my left eye I had a retinal hole. She explained to me that you have to think of the fluid in your eye and your retina like a bathtub filled with water that has a bath tub mat with suction cups attached. Over time you might get a small hole in the matt mat and then fluid can seep underneath and actually pull the matt off (a.k.a. retinal detachment). She explained that it was better to get this fixed as soon as possible to avoid that happening, which is a much larger procedure.
Right away the doctor said we would do the laser treatment. I was expecting to come back another day, for another appointment, to fix my retinal hole. She told me it would take no more than one minute to do the laser portion and just a few minutes to get my eye prepped for the treatment. Numbing drops were put into my left eye and some time was allowed for them to kick in. I was laid back in my chair and my right eye was covered with a gauze and some tape to prevent any lasers from getting into my right eye.
After my eye was all prepped the laser machine was put on various levels and beams were shot into my eye. The doctor treats retinal tears with a laser by placing several laser spots around the existing hole. This procedure is called a laser retinopexy. The laser spots create scar tissue around the hole helping to keep the retina in place. Your eye will be dilated for the procedure.
How did it feel? The light is bright and it might make your eye feel like it needs to blink but you just hold your breath and stay still. She did the laser in increments to give me a break to blink or let my eyes stop feeling sensitive. I could feel the beams a bit, almost like some pressure or light heat, but nothing unbearable at all. My pupils were dilated and were a bit watery after, but otherwise it was very tolerable. The nurse gave me a Tylenol since I did feel a little uncomfortable after, but after that I was sent home.
You are told you can’t lift heavy for at least 4-5 days (that sucks, so much for strength training), but you can do light cardio that doesn’t involve lots of dynamic movement. I guess it’s walking on the treadmill for me. You can go back to wearing your contact lenses, but I am going to wear my glasses for a few days to let my eyes rest.
It was a bit challenging to drive since my pupils were so dilated, which means the sunlight was unbearably bright. I wore my glasses home with my sunglasses over them – it made for quite a site to see. In four weeks I will go back for a checkup, but otherwise it’s such a relief to know that we caught the hole before it became a much bigger issue. I know I post mostly about outer fitness and health, but eye health is SO important to. Make sure to go for your yearly eye exam – even if you have perfect vision.