By Judith Whitehead – Contributing writer
Working in the field of ophthalmology I have seen many, many people ignore their symptoms, some from neglect, some from ignorance, others from laziness.
Something as simple as having “floaters” can become a serious diagnosis if ignored.
Floaters, or the liquefying of the vitreous gel that fills the retina, begins to break down in the aging process and at that point a person is at greater risk for a retinal detachment. The gel can pull and tug on the wall of the retina causing a hole or tear in the lining of the retina.
Some of the causes of this process can be someone who is very nearsighted doing strenuous exercise, lifting or pulling with great effort or even flying in an airplane.
A nearsighted eye is a long eye that already stretches the retina, which puts someone at greater risk, although anyone with any size eye can have these symptoms.
Floaters accompanied with flashing lights means you are having a retinal event and must be checked by your eye doctor. You may just be having a Posterior Vitreous Detachment, which can be a precursor to a more serious problem.
If you begin to see lots of floaters or lots of flashing lights, better not wait to seek medical attention. If you see a “curtain” coming down that interferes with your vision, it may be indicating the start of a retinal detachment.
Any type of retinal detachment requires immediate attention and possible surgery to reattach the retina in hopes of restoring complete vision; a delay in treatment my cause permanent damage as the retina can't survive for very long unattached. Treatments are not easy because they require an involved process of “head down” post-operative care. Either a “buckle” or a gas bubble pushes the retina back in place and reattaches circulation to the retina.
This is one instance that immediate attention will save vision. Don't ignore your symptoms and don't procrastinate. Don't wait for it to “go away,” because it may not.
Get it checked.
Judith Whitehead, of East Amherst, is a certified ophthalmic technician.