Now it is 14 months after the fifth and, at this point, last surgery on my right retina. My eye, which has proliferative vitro retinopathy (PVR), is stable, though it has oil inside, which distorts my vision.
On a retina listserv that I read regularly, I’ve noticed that several people who have been through multiple surgeries on a single eye are wondering if — after all that looking down and lying in various positions — life ever gets back to normal.
The answer in my case is yes. I’ll explain and also answer a few questions below.
My eye is stable and has been so for 14 months. It does not see anywhere as clearly as it used to and I still have some issues with double images (though my brain seems to have learned how to turn off much of the double vision), low acuity, and glare, I am doing well. My right eye, which by the way also had a single surgery (see the earliest retina posts), has now been stable for two years and nine months and sees clearly.
Q: Do I still worry?
A: Yes, I worry, but my husband regularly points out that this is not within my power to control, so I try to get over it. I do know that I may possibly experience more retina problems.
Q: Am I as active as I used to be?
A: Yes, but I avoid really bumpy activities such as aerobics. Also, I am careful with weights, but I regularly use five-pound and eight-pound weights when I exercise. I need to find some aerobic exercise that I am comfortable with and my eye is likewise.
Q: Am I wearing my contact lenses?
A: No, I’m wearing several pairs of glasses because my eyes have changed gradually over the 14 months. New ones are good to have, but the old ones can also be worn at times, so I’ve had some fun selecting different colored frames. I get the prescriptions from my low vision specialist, and then I order my glasses.
Q: Do I use reading glasses?
A: Yes. I have some for reading books, some for using computers, and some for reading music. I play the piano, so at my first visit to the low vision specialist, I asked that we concentrate on the music. She made some suggestions about reading glasses. I purchase most of my reading glasses at Peepers.
Q: Are there any places that present extra obstacles to my vision?
A: Yes, I am less than secure in darkened theaters where I have seats in high, steep balconies. Also in bleachers when I attend athletic events. I’ve thought of treating myself to an elegant, but not too expensive, cane with a decorative handle to use in those situations, but I haven’t made a decision about it yet. I did purchase a Brazos walking stick for walks in snow and ice, which is really helpful. I can get along fine without these things, but falls do increase as people get older so I am paying attention and perhaps attending to more than one potential problem.
Q: How many bubbles did I have in the eye with the PVR?
A:. Two. The first one had more staying power than most bubbles and took more than six weeks to dissipate. The next one was only in for 10 days before I went back for surgery to put in the oil. The oil is in there for the foreseeable future because the possibility is high that my retina would detach again without the oil.
Q: Would I have done anything differently?
A: Yes, when my surgeon wanted to put in the scleral buckle, I asked if we could try without it — I was really fearful about it even though I did not go online to look at people’s stories. It just frightened me. Looking back, I wish I had conquered my fear and gone through with the buckle, although the surgeon says that my eye was heading toward PVR and that decision may not have made any difference. In any event, he was right.
Q: Do I follow the retina research?
A: Yes, but so far it looks like most of the breakthroughs are in animals or for macular degeneration. Perhaps some of this research will carry over to PVR. I do have a Google alert for PVR. I have a feeling that the solutions that would help are pretty far off.
Q: Do I worry when I travel.
A: Not much. We spend quite a bit of time at a summer location, so last summer I arranged to see a retina surgeon up there, more for my security than anything else. I worried that if something happened, it would take me 10 hours to get home, and I wanted to know that I had good care available in both places.
Q: Do I know why all these detachments occurred?
A: No, but I do keep asking myself that question. I do believe that more health information should be conveyed earlier by ophthalmologists so that people understand a bit more about retina health — for instance how the retina may be affected by heavy coughing or head injuries — before something goes wrong. Every adult that I talk to has absolutely no idea about detached retinas until something goes wrong, We should all know more.
Any other questions?
This post is not a substitute for talking with your physician.
Do you want to share with other people who have experienced detached retinas? The retina posts here on AsOurParentsAge are descriptive in nature — and this is not a high-traffic blog where people can share experiences. If you seek a group with good conversation and support, check out and consider subscribing to the Detached Retina Group over at Yahoo.