Let's talk about our eyes shall we?
It's easy to take them for granted. They typically do their job without too much fuss, providing endless hours of entertainment pleasure. They're great to have, especially when knitting lace or trying to find the cat hiding stubbornly in the chard.
Even when buying really chic and expensive glasses for them, it's easy to see eyes as existing apart from our health; they're this outer mechanism that has little to do with that complicated tangle of offal packed inside, more like a camera than organ meats.
Because diseases of the eye aren't life-threatening, they don't attract the attention or celebrities like more serious maladies. This is as it should be. But that does't mean, we shouldn't occasionally give our eyes there due.
Eye disease is quality-of-life-threatening. And there may be some things you can do to increase your chances of lifelong eye health.
A year and a half ago as I sat in my well-dressed opthamologist's office making small talk about her cosmetic services (skin care at the eye doctor? Wheeeeeee!), she had me up and out of the chair, saying, "You have a detachment. We're going to see if we can get you into surgery this afternoon."
My actual retina surgery was the next morning and by noon I was home with an eye patch and a gas bubble in my eye.
Two weeks ago, I saw my retina specialist for a routine follow up when he started rattling off acronyms and directions to the technician. This didn't bode well. "You have another tear in your right eye."
Thursday he operated on me again. This time in the office. The tear was minor and in the periphery, almost not worth repairing, except like a dropped stitch, it would worsen with time.
For the squeamish, I'll spare details, but think "Marathan Man" with needles and an eye chart. (I exaggerate for effect; as with anything, the idea of the procedure required far more fortitude than the physical discomfort, which felt like a long, disastrous hangover.) I left feeling like I had done six rounds with Sonny Liston.
This is a long-winded way of saying, take care of your peepers. If you suspect a retina detachment, get to an eye doctor, stat. The sooner a detachment is fixed, the better your chances of a positive result. Not repairing a detachment can lead to permanent blindness.
How do you know if something is wrong? The sudden appearance of lots of floaters, flashes of light or a shadow falling over your field of vision. In my first instance, it was like a transluscent scrim had come down over half my right eye. In this recent occurrence, no symptoms.
People who are nearsighted or have family history are more at risk. Sometimes detachments are caused by trauma, but more often than not, the shape of the myopic eye is to blame.
I asked the doctor about dietary interventions, which he indicated were more appropriate for people with macular degeneration. I suspect this means: No data vis-a-vis retinal detachment. But here's an article from the American Optometric Association that offers some sensible information, including wear UVA/UVB sunglasses, eat your greens and take your vitamins.
Chard for breakfast, anyone? Here's looking at you, kids!