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.
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.