A quick update for anyone interested in my eye problems!
You may remember from November 2018, that my left eye had surgery for a detached retina. Fast forward to November 2019 and my right eye has decided to join the party, albeit a bit more seriously.
Older people (anyone 50+) and especially those with severe short-sightedness (-5.0 and lower) have a predilection to retinal tears and retinal detachment.
As you get older, the vitreous jelly in your eye shrinks. It happens to everyone. The gap is then filled by fluid automatically by the body. Most people don’t know it’s happening.
Short-sighted people have a retina that is already stretched as a result of the slightly elongated and larger eyeball. As the jelly detaches from the retina it pulls a bit and sometimes tears the stretched retina. You get bleeds into the eye, often showing as a huge increase in ‘floaters’, along with tadpole-shaped black shapes.
The fluid in the eye then finds its way into the tears and down the back of the remaining retina, just like water going behind the wallpaper in a damp bathroom, and ultimately peeling the whole thing off.
If no action were taken the result would be permanent blindness. If this happened to people in Shakespeare’s day there would be no treatment (not that the peasants could have afforded it, anyway) so I’m grateful I’m alive now.
The treatment is to suck out all the remaining jelly, blood and general detritus in the eye, laser the retina back into position and fill the eye with either silicon oil or gas, to keep the retina in place whilst it heals. If silicon oil was used you have to have it surgically removed later.
The gas can be short or long-lasting. I got short-lasting gas in my left eye a year ago (a fairly small detachment) but now have long-lasting (6-8 weeks) gas in the right eye as the detachment was more serious and had even reached the macula, the area of the retina used to read (or solder small, SMD components).
The operation was uncomfortable, but not especially painful, and lasted about 90 minutes, including waiting 20 minutes for the local anesthetic to kick in. They also inject something into the muscles of the eye to stop you moving the eye during surgery. That was most definitely painful, and felt like my eyeball was going to explode with the pressure.
After surgery I had to lie on my left side for seven days and seven nights (they call this “posturing”) with a 10-minute reprieve every hour. This ensures that the gas bubble pushes up towards the area of retina that was reattached. This was so easy to do (not) and I was so glad when I could finally sit up in bed on the 8th day. Benny kept me company throughout this ordeal, of course. Unfortunately he thought it amusing to test my knowledge of C++ and the difference between the ESP8266 and the ESP32. I was not amused.
The irony of using gas to keep the retina in place whilst it heals is that the gas causes the lens to become misty or cloudy within a few months to a year. This is called a cataract and the lens needs to be removed and a plastic lens inserted in its place.
I’m currently on the waiting list for a cataract replacement for my left eye (the one that wen’t wrong a year ago). But I’ll need another one for the right eye, once it has settled down and they can establish how good my vision is, and whether it has been permanently damaged.
It’s only been just over two weeks since my latest eye op, and I can’t see anything out of it yet (except very, very blurry light and dark areas).
I’m hoping that I will be able to see something with my right eye by Xmas 2019 although I am dreading it too, as I might discover that my vision is not what it was.
Most importantly, will I be able to solder small components again? Keep your fingers (toes and anything else) crossed! I’ll give an update early in the New Year.
Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to all!