After this year, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say this enough….

KEEP A CLOSE EYE ON YOUR EYES!! Don’t miss those appointments! (And if you have skipped one recently, go pick up the phone and call now…) Make sure you trust your doctor and if something looks funny to you, get a second opinion. If there’s something he can’t explain, get a second opinion. If he seems too rushed to give you a thorough (and I mean thorough… he should inspect every square micrometer of your eyes in my opinion) exam, then find someone else.

Why?

Because I didn’t… and I should have.

I should have went with my gut when my ophthalmologist seemed to be rushing me. I should have gotten a second opinion from a different doctor 3 1/2 years ago when my regular optometrist saw teeny-tiny yellow spots but when my ophthalmologist looked, he said he couldn’t see anything. I trusted him in February when he told me that everything was “all clear” and “no signs of damage from diabetes”. Those words now cut like a knife… and they do over and over again when I see others post of a “no-signs” bill-of-health following their own appointments.

The fact of the matter is there is damage. What happened in April is diabetes-related.  What I have is Mild Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy. Which you wouldn’t think much of since a lot of people with diabetes – especially those having diabetes over 20 years usually do have some spots of it. But what they don’t tell you is that by having those spots, you have or may have had Diabetic Retinal Artery Micro Aneurysms – which is what happened in my case. Usually these can happen anywhere in the eye, mine just so happened to be right in the area of my Macula, so when the area of the artery began to swell and leak fluid, the fluid caused a ‘blister’ to happen – very similar to Diabetic Macular Edema, though mine healed on it’s own without treatment.

What bothers me is when you hear of complications from doctors, it’s the worst of the worst. That if a complication happens to you, it’s the most severe form, and anything less than that need not be worried about. What happened to me was a very thin line between having what I had happen – where the vessel simply leaked fluid and some other stuff (which looks like yellow spots – but they’re protein and cholesterol particles from the fluid – and makes for some interesting looking pictures) and having it burst – which would mean the micro aneurysm would have burst and bled out and possibly needed more treatment than just “waiting it out”.  And of course, the “what-if” that bothers me, is what if this wasn’t on my macular area, but somewhere else… and I wouldn’t have known… and the disease could have progressed further. Other spots may not have been examined as closely as they were until a year from now… or knowing me… a few years from now.

So, here’s my friendly PSA – Get your eyes checked regularly. Don’t skip appointments. Don’t be afraid to have to travel to see a good doctor if you feel you aren’t getting adequate care where you are. Ask questions. Get answers to anything you need to know. Get referrals from other patients. FIND a retina specialist that will take time with you and explain any- and everything you want / need to know.

Maintaining the health of your eyes is more important than the fear you have of going to the doctor.

4 Thoughts on “Keep A Close Eye On Your Eyes!

  1. This very same, exact same, so similar I double checked to make sure _I_ didn’t write it, thing happened to me while I was at Friends For Life (I blogged about it). It’s so scary. It’s helpful, and crappy, knowing that I am not alone. Thank you.

  2. I agree with you 110% to have regular appointments. My issue was caught very early and it started within 6 months. One appointment my eyes were ok. The next one of them wasn’t. I’m glad that yours seems to be healing on its own, that’s great news. After my treatment I was seeing the retina specialist every 6 weeks then graduated to 3 months then to 6 months. I will never, ever let more than 6 months go by in between my appointments!

  3. I have been very good about seeing my opthalmologist once a year but your post today motivated me to go ahead and make my late August appointment. I supposedly see a top doctor, but I will admit that he doesn’t spend a lot of time with me. I think it is a thorough exam, but your post has me wondering….

  4. I am a retinopathy survivor, and unfortunately haven’t been able to drive for the last 10 years. And I miss that privilege every single day.
    Thankfully, however, I can read, paint, make jewelry, edit photographs, and recognize my friends across the street.
    I had gone to my clinic system’s retinal specialist who said that my eyes were “all clear”, and 2 weeks later had a major hemorrhage. Did he miss something? I don’t know. I was told what happened was “highly unusual”. The ensuing laser treatments and detached retina surgery prevented me from the trip of a lifetime – going with my sister to pick up her new baby girl in China.
    But, today I can see every detail on my beautiful niece’s face, the leaves on the trees swaying in the wind, and the music notes when I play the violin.
    Everyone out there must NOT compromise their eye care – either in frequency of visits or going to a competent provider. And, if you have to drive 100 miles to get to one, then do it—–or later on you may not be driving at all.

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