(First published by me as a newsletter on 12/19/2019. Recent conversations informed me that many adults continue to be unaware of this medical issue.)
So, what do you do when you’ve devoted the last two years of your life to building a business based upon the visual arts and, suddenly, you cannot see?
This was one of the primary thoughts I had the evening before Thanksgiving this year.
The day ended like many others. I cleaned my brushes, tidied the studio, and headed out into the early dark of a late winter afternoon.
“Oh, it’s snowing,” I thought. “I didn’t know it was supposed to snow!” I could see snow falling in the glow of the streetlights out of the corner of my eye. But, oddly, I couldn’t see flakes falling anywhere else. I focused on crossing the busy street and trudging up the hill to where I’d parked my car.
Now, I was in a darker area. And I could still see snowflakes glowing out of the corner of my right eye.
I drove home, slowly becoming more concerned as it even appeared to be snowing IN my car. Upon arrival, I splashed water in my eyes and inspected my face for signs of glitter from Christmas decorations. I used lubricating eyedrops. I asked my husband whether he could see anything in or on my eye. All to no avail.
Suddenly, I recalled associates who had experienced retinal detachment and sudden blindness.
Now I was frightened.
So, I Googled, “What does it mean when I see flashes of light out of the corner of my eye?” The results described retinal detachment and vitreous detachment. I’d never heard of the latter. The search results urged me to be “seen as soon as possible by a medical provider.”
Did I mention that I was frightened?
I was exhausted. It was the night before Thanksgiving. It was dark and I didn’t want to spend hours in an Emergency Room. So, I looked up local eye doctors and filled out an appointment request for one. I listed my symptoms as requested in the online appointment form. I figured that it was a holiday weekend and that I might get an appointment for Monday or Tuesday if they found it urgent.
An hour later, on the night before Thanksgiving, their Office Manager emailed me back and told me to go to the Emergency Room because I should be seen “as soon as possible.”
I didn’t go. Instead, I tossed all night in bed with a plan to go at first light. And that’s what I did Thanksgiving morning.
An EKG, blood tests, an ultrasound of the eye, and a CAT scan later, the emergency room physician told me it looked like Vitreous Detachment of the right eye. I even saw an Ophthalmologist in her office on Thanksgiving morning!
I now know that EVERY SINGLE PERSON experiences Vitreous Detachment as his or her eyes age. I had no previous knowledge of this. Why had nobody warned me? I guess because they want you to be seen “as soon as possible” because it could have been a stroke, retinal detachment, or another medical crisis.
I now feel stupid for not going immediately to the Emergency Room. But had I known that every human being experiences this detachment, I might have been less panicked.
My purpose today is to let you know that this will happen to you if it hasn’t already. Not everyone experiences symptoms. So, look it up to understand for yourself.
I also feel extremely grateful that I can continue working as I’ve been without any serious consequences.
Happy Holidays to you all, however you celebrate. I hope that any setbacks in the coming year are inconsequential. Be well.