Causes of sudden blindness

Adult Vision: 41 to 60 Years of Age

  • Understanding Age-related Vision Changes
  • Encountering Problems with Near Vision After 40
  • Warning Signs of Eye Health Problems

Beginning in the early to mid-40s, many adults may start to have problems seeing clearly at close distances, especially when reading and working on the computer. This is among the most common problems adults develop between ages 41 to 60. This normal change in the eye’s focusing ability, called presbyopia, will continue to progress over time.
Initially, you may need to hold reading materials farther away to see them clearly. Or you may need to remove your glasses to see better up close. Print in the newspaper or on a restaurant menu may appear blurred, especially under dim lighting.

If you already wear prescription glasses or contact lenses to see clearly in the distance, these changes in your near vision can be corrected by switching to bifocal or multifocal lenses. Fortunately, people with presbyopia now have many options to improve their vision.

During these years, schedule a comprehensive eye examination with your optometrist at least every two years to check for developing eye and vision problems. Don’t rely on the limited driver’s license vision test or other insufficient vision screenings to determine if you have an eye or vision problem.
Adults over 40 who have the following health or work issues may be particularly at risk for developing eye and vision problems:

  • Chronic, systemic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • A family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration.
  • A highly visually demanding job or work in an eye-hazardous occupation.
  • Health conditions related to high cholesterol, thyroid, anxiety or depression, and arthritis for which you take medications. Many medications, even antihistamines, have vision side effects.

Understanding Age-related Vision Changes

Just like your body, your eyes and vision change over time. While not everyone will experience the same symptoms, the following are common age-related vision changes:

  • Need for more light. As you age, you need more light to see as well as you used to. Brighter lights in your work area or next to your reading chair will help make reading and other close-up tasks easier.
  • Difficulty reading and doing close work. Printed materials can become less clear, in part because the lens in your eye becomes less flexible over time. This makes it harder for your eyes to focus on near objects than when you were younger.
  • Problems with glare. When driving, you may notice additional glare from headlights at night or sun reflecting off windshields or pavement during the day. Changes in your lenses in your eyes cause light entering the eye to be scattered rather than focused precisely on the retina. This creates more glare.
  • Changes in color perception. The normally clear lens located inside your eye may start to discolor. This makes it harder to see and distinguish between certain color shades.
  • Reduced tear production. With age, the tear glands in your eyes will produce fewer tears. This is particularly true for women experiencing hormone changes. As a result, your eyes may feel dry and irritated. Having an adequate amount of tears is essential for keeping your eyes healthy and for maintaining clear sight.

Encountering Problems with Near Vision after 40

If you have never needed eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct distance vision, then experiencing near vision problems after age 40 can be concerning and frustrating. You may feel like you’ve abruptly lost the ability to read the newspaper or see the cell phone numbers.
Actually, these changes in your focusing power have been occurring gradually since childhood. Now your eyes don’t have enough focusing power to see clearly for reading and other close vision tasks.

Losing this focusing ability for near vision, called presbyopia, occurs because the lens inside the eye becomes less flexible. This flexibility allows the eye to change focus from objects that are far away to objects that are close. People with presbyopia have several options to regain clear near vision. They include:

  • Eyeglasses, including single vision reading glasses and multifocal lenses
  • Contact lenses, including monovision and bifocal lenses
  • Laser surgery and other refractive surgery procedures

As you continue to age, presbyopia becomes more advanced. You may notice that you need to change your eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions more frequently than you used to. Around age 60, these changes in near vision should stop, and prescription changes should occur less frequently.
Presbyopia can’t be prevented or cured, but most people should be able to regain clear, comfortable near vision for all of their lifestyle needs.

Warning Signs of Eye Health Problems

This is also the time in life when your risk for developing a number of eye and vision problems increases. The following symptoms could be the early warning signs of a serious eye health problem:

  • Fluctuating vision. Frequent changes in how clearly you can see may be a sign of diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure). These chronic conditions can damage the tiny blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye. This vision loss can sometimes be permanent.
  • Seeing floaters and flashes. Occasionally, you may see spots or floaters in your eyes. In most cases, these are shadowy images of particles floating in the fluid that fills the inside of the eye. Although they can be bothersome, spots and floaters typically don’t harm vision. They are a natural part of the eye’s aging process.
    But if you suddenly see more floaters than normal, along with bright, flashing lights, see your optometrist immediately. This could be a sign that you have a tear in your retina, and it could detach. This should be treated immediately to prevent serious loss of vision.
  • Loss of side vision. Losing peripheral or side vision may be a sign of glaucoma. Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve is damaged and no longer transmits all visual images to the brain. It often has no symptoms until damage your vision has begun.
  • Seeing distorted images. Straight lines that appear distorted or wavy or an empty area in the center of your vision could be signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The disease affects the macula, which is the part of your retina that is responsible for central vision. The disease causes a blind spot in the middle of your field of vision.

    Regular eye examinations and early diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases can help you preserve good vision throughout your life.

What happens if my eyesight gets worse?

Can I stop eyesight from getting worse?

Some people believe that a certain diet coupled with targeted eye exercises can help improve eyesight naturally. However, there is no concrete evidence supporting this and it’s best to see your optometrist regularly to identify and treat any problems early on, whether through vision correction, surgery or medication.

Good and bad eyesight

Using the terms good and bad to describe eyesight are misleading, because vision correction is more focused on abnormal versus normal vision and stronger or weaker prescriptions. If you need glasses or contact lenses to see that does not mean your eyes are ‘bad’, just that they need a stronger level of correction to aid you to see clearly.To find out your level of visual acuity (meaning the sharpness or clearness of vision), you will need to see an optometrist for an eye test. This will determine the level of vision correction needed (if any) in each eye. Partial sight means you have a visual impairment of some kind. This will usually mean you have a visual acuity score ranging from 3/60 to 6/60 with a full field or up to 6/24 with a moderate restriction of your visual field. This will be analysed during your eye test.

Miscellaneous issues with worsening eyesight

If you used to have no vision problems but now deal with weaker distance vision, it’s important to see your optometrist for an eye test. This could be an indication of myopia or shortsightedness, which occurs when the eyeball is too large and light has trouble focusing accurately on the retina at the back of your eye.Sometimes you may need to use a visual display unit (VDU) regularly. If you notice your vision getting worse since looking at the unit or one eye turning inwards, you need to see your optometrist for a full eye examination. Your prescription may have changed, causing you to need stronger vision correction. If you only notice vision problems in one eye, this could be an indicator of amblyopia or lazy eye, which occurs when one eye doesn’t develop as much as the other. There could also be another underlying cause, so it’s best to see your optometrist for more information.

Common Eye Diseases

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 55. The macula, a tiny area in the center of your retina, contains millions of light-sensing cells that produce detailed central vision. As people age, the macula can deteriorate, causing a blurred or dark area in the center of the visual field.

There are two types of macular degeneration, referred to as “dry” and “wet.” Dry macular degeneration is more common, and tends to progress more slowly.

Wet macular degeneration is characterized by bleeding in and under the retina. Often, it can be treated by injections. If you get this treatment, you may need multiple injections. Your eye care professional may give them monthly. Before each injection, your eye care professional will numb your eye and clean it with antiseptics. To prevent the risk of infection, a doctor may prescribe antibiotic drops. (NEI/NIH, 2013)

Another treatment is photodynamic therapy. This technique involves laser treatment of select areas of the retina. First, a drug called Verteporfin will be injected into a vein in your arm. The drug travels through the blood vessels in your body, including any new, abnormal blood vessels in your eye. Your eye care professional then shines a laser beam into your eye to activate the drug in the blood vessels. Once activated, the drug destroys the new blood vessels and slows the rate of vision loss. This procedure takes about 20 minutes. (NEI/NIH, 2013)

Eye care professionals treat certain cases of wet macular degeneration with laser surgery, though this is less common than other treatments. Performed in a doctor’s office or eye clinic, this treatment involves aiming an intense beam of light at the new blood vessels in your eyes to destroy them. However, laser treatment also may harm surrounding healthy tissue and cause more blurred vision. (NEI/NIH, 2013)

Both forms of macular degeneration can impair reading, driving, or anything that requires detailed sight. Usually a person’s peripheral vision remains, and can be enhanced with low-vision aids. There is also a rare congenital form of macular degeneration.

Doctor, Am I Going Blind?

To the question, “Am I going blind?,” the answer is most often, “No.”

For the great majority of patients diagnosed with disease-causing progressive vision loss, use of the word “blindness” actually does not apply. Fortunately, most patients treated for degenerative diseases retain some degree of visual function.

While the amount varies (dependent on disease type, severity, persistence, and progression), it is far more accurate to describe most cases as visual impairments and not as blindness.

Obviously, total loss of light perception is the ultimate fear. Ophthalmologists must be extremely careful in their discussions with patients to address this fear. While some diseases are severe, most can be limited.

Macular Degeneration

A frightening diagnosis always, and is the most common ocular disease in older age. Some forms are genetically inherited and present in adolescents, teens, and much younger adults. Although often described as the “leading cause of blindness in people over 65,” it is highly unlikely and extremely rare that it results in loss of light perception or blindness. Macular degeneration generally affects the central vision, leaving peripheral intact.

Progression of the disease is slow in most cases and can be well compensated. Patients are able to continue their full and productive lives, making some adjustments and utilizing magnification and speech in widely available accessible technologies. A strong mental approach coupled with a willingness to learn, are proven factors in maximizing remaining vision and enjoying life.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes-related eye disease is another common malady often associated with the reduction in normal sight. While historically unrelenting, attention to medical and ocular problems early in the course of diabetes have completely altered the potential for devastating visual loss. With current and updated treatments, visual loss can be prevented or at least limited. Often, patient cooperation and participation in treatment is the key to success for diabetics.

Glaucoma

Primarily a disease of superficial retinal loss associated with elevated pressure within the globe of the eye. The earliest patterns of visual loss from glaucoma are peripheral, not central, so a reduction of visual field can go relatively undetected by the patient. As the disease progresses, more of the peripheral field is lost, followed finally by the loss of the central areas.

Fortunately, with treatment and early recognition by a qualified professional, visual loss can be prevented or limited.

Legal Blindness

Many have heard the term “legal blindness” and automatically interpret it to mean “blindness.” Legal blindness is a government definition or statute utilized to determine qualification for disability benefits. The definition requires 20/200 vision or worse in the best eye with correction in place or visual field limitation to 20 degrees in diameter. The condition causing the vision loss must be present or expected to be present, for one year or more.

Legal blindness does not mean “no vision” and many people with this degree of vision loss live very full visual lives, albeit with a significant visual impairment. On the other hand, “blindness” is usually understood to mean “no visual perception”.

Clarification of the language associated with vision loss is critical, especially for those on the receiving end of these difficult words. Speak with your ophthalmologist. Make sure you understand your visual status and to what degree it is likely to change over time. Most of the time vision can be preserved and loss can be limited.

Can Anxiety Cause Blindness?

Generally people with high levels of anxiety struggle with health concerns, because it eventually becomes too difficult to differentiate between a real health problem and an anxiety created one.

Your vision is just one of the areas that can be affected by anxiety, but can stress and anxiety make someone become blind?

Anxiety and Vision

Stress certainly has an effect on every single function in your body. Anxiety itself is known to affect vision. It can cause the pupils to dilate, which lets in more light which can lead to eye pain. It also can contribute to eye strain, which may lead to more vision problems. Anxiety can cause double vision, blurry vision, and in a few rare cases, hallucinations.

But when it comes to whether or not anxiety can cause blindness, the answer is no. There is currently no evidence that anxiety causes true blindness, as in the inability to see.

Suffering From Blindness

If you have found yourself suddenly blind, or blind for any extended period of time, you’ll need to contact your eye doctor. Sudden blindness is often the result of an underlying problem, such as:

  • Eye Damage
  • Alcoholism
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Heavy Metal Toxicity

Blindness may be caused be some medications, and may be the result of behaviors you use to cope with anxiety – such as drug addiction/abuse. But there is currently no evidence that blindness is caused by anxiety. Blindness is one of the few issues that is highly unlikely to be anxiety related, so seeing a doctor is valuable.

Dealing With a Fear of Blindness

What is very common is a fear of blindness, as well as believing that something is causing you to go blind. That is because the vision problems from anxiety can often seem pronounced, and when accompanied by other symptoms, such as eye pain, it often feels like something must be wrong.

Fear of going blind, is a very real fear, especially if your vision has been impacted by your anxiety. So it should be noted that if you haven’t gone blind and you find yourself extremely worried about it without medical reason, it is likely a symptom of anxiety.

Overcoming Your Anxiety Over Blindness

The key is to talk to your doctor. Anxiety does not cause blindness. Treating your anxiety will give you the best opportunity to experience a better quality of life.

Signs and Symptoms of Vision Problems

Edited by Maureen A. Duffy, M.S., CVRT

Preventive Eye Care and Eye Examinations Are Important

Just as with annual physical examinations, it’s equally important to have regular eye examinations. An annual eye examination is appropriate for most people.

If you have glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, or a family history of eye diseases or disorders, regular monitoring and more frequent visits may be required.

It’s important to discuss your health care situation with your primary care doctor and your eye doctor and make sure you follow his or her advice about ongoing appointments, medications, and/or treatments. Prevention is an important component of eye care.

Some eye conditions and diseases are hereditary and family members may need to be monitored regularly by a general physician and an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Signs and Symptoms of Possible Vision Problems

If you experience any of the following eye changes, schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist or optometrist immediately, even if you’ve been to your eye doctor recently:

  • Severe, sudden eye pain
  • Recurrent pain in or around the eye
  • Hazy, blurred, or double vision
  • Seeing flashes of light or sudden bright floating spots
  • Seeing rainbows or halos around lights
  • Seeing floating “spider webs”
  • Seeing a “curtain coming down” over one eye
  • Sensing a “cup filling up with ink” in one eye
  • Unusual, even painful, sensitivity to light or glare
  • Swollen, red eyes
  • Changes in the color of the iris
  • White areas in the pupil of the eye
  • Sudden development of persistent floaters
  • Itching, burning, or a heavy discharge in the eyes
  • Any sudden change in vision
  • See also Normal Vision Changes to help you understand normal age-related changes in the eyes and your vision.

Tom McCarville, Co-Founder, E.A.R.S. for EYES Vision Rehabilitation Services

Fifteen years ago, Tom McCarville was a photographer and lighting engineer, running his own company with his partner Martha Parisian. With combined experience in movie making, television, and commercial photography, Tom and Martha had a successful media business and were climbing their joint ladder of success.

Life changed when Tom decided to visit his eye doctor and purchase a more modern pair of eyeglass frames. He was given the news that he had permanently lost 20% of his peripheral vision through glaucoma. “The disease is out of control,” he was told by his ophthalmologist.

Learn more about Tom’s struggle with glaucoma and his subsequent career reinvention as a vision rehabilitation therapist, and learn these facts about glaucoma:

  • Tips for Taking Glaucoma Eye Drops
  • A Patient’s Guide to Living with Glaucoma
  • What are Vision Rehabilitation Services?
  • Check out our Getting Started Kit for more ideas to help you live well with low vision.
  • Sign up with VisionAware to receive free weekly email alerts for more helpful information and tips for everyday living with vision loss.

Other Indicators of Possible Vision Problems

Other indications of possible vision problems may include problems with the following daily living activities:

Moving Around

  • Having difficulty walking on irregular or bumpy surfaces
  • Walking or stepping hesitantly
  • Going up and down stairs slowly and cautiously
  • Shuffling the feet
  • Brushing against walls while walking
  • Missing objects by under-reaching or over-reaching

Everyday Activities

  • Discontinuing or doing certain activities differently such as reading, watching television, driving, walking, or engaging in hobbies
  • Squinting or tilting the head to the side to focus on an object
  • Having difficulty identifying faces or objects
  • Having trouble locating personal objects, even in a familiar environment
  • Reaching out for objects in an uncertain manner
  • Having trouble identifying colors
  • Selecting clothing in unusual combinations of colors or patterns

Eating and Drinking

  • Having problems getting food onto a fork
  • Having difficulty cutting food or serving from a serving dish
  • Spilling food off the plate while eating
  • Pouring liquids over the top of a cup or drinking glass
  • Knocking over glasses while reaching across the table for another item

Reading and Writing

  • No longer reading mail, newspapers, or books
  • Holding reading material very close to the face or at an angle
  • Writing less clearly and having trouble writing on a line
  • Finding that lighting that was previously sufficient is now inadequate for reading and other activities

While a bill has recently been introduced to expand Medicare’s coverage to include the testing for and treating of vision problems, such services are, unfortunately, not available for beneficiaries who do not have Medicare Advantage of other supplemental plans.

As we age, we become more susceptible to conditions and disease that threaten to take our vision. However, most causes of blindness can be prevented or treated if you make a commitment to have comprehensive eye exams at least twice a year. Many people try to ignore problems with their sight, or attribute their sight problems to “getting old.” However, by being proactive and vigilant, eye problems may be able to be reversed! Ignoring vision problems will only lead to further damage that may be irreversible.

If you have any of the following symptoms, please make an appointment to see your doctor or a vision professional today.

  1. Cloudy Vision
  2. Discoloration of the eye
  3. Pain in the eye
  4. Central vision impaired
  5. Watery eyes
  6. Eye discharge
  7. Spots or streaks in vision
  8. Cloudy or dark on the edges of vision field
  9. Dry or itchy eyes
  10. Low vision (even with corrective glasses, contacts, medicine or surgery)

If your insurance does not cover two vision checkups per year, there are often discounts available from many vision care centers. If you are afraid of getting your vision checked, here are some tips for you:

  • Write down what you want to say. List any problems you are having, so that you do not forget to tell the doctor during your exam.
  • Bring a friend. Ask a friend, spouse or family member to go with you to the doctor. He or she can help ensure that you receive the attention and care that you need.
  • Find a doctor you are comfortable with. If your doctor makes you uncomfortable or unhappy, find a new one! Your insurance provider should have an online finder tool and/or a phone number on your insurance card that you can call to find a new provider in your network.
  • Reward yourself! Plan something fun or special for yourself as a reward for going to the doctor.

For more information about preventing blindness, check out the non-profit organization, preventblindness.org. They have useful descriptions and checklists of all kinds of eye problems, a glossary of vision terms and scholarly articles about vision-related topics.

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9 Early Warning Signs of Glaucoma You Shouldn’t Ignore

Glaucoma is a progressive disease that causes damage to your optic nerve. The primary cause behind the damage is fluid buildup in the front part of the eyeball. The buildup occurs because the fluid cannot drain as it should.

Why It’s Important to Get Regular Tests for Glaucoma

Glaucoma can cause irreversible blindness. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, and no cure for blindness, there are ways to help prevent the progression of glaucoma. With a simple, non-invasive test at your eye doctor’s office, you and your doctor can be informed if you have glaucoma well before blindness occurs. If you avoid eye doctor appointments or avoid the simple glaucoma test, you risk developing this disease to a point where you could suffer partial or total blindness for the remainder of your life.

What are the Early Warning Signs of Glaucoma?

In addition to regular eye checkups, you can avoid the progression of glaucoma by being vigilant about noticing early warning signs of glaucoma. If you notice any or all of the following symptoms, you should see our optometrists without delay.

    1. Seeing halos around lights – This symptom may be most obvious during nighttime driving, when a halo may appear around streetlights or oncoming headlights.
    2. Vision loss in one or both eyes – If you have a blind spot in your field of vision, or notice a decrease in sharpness of vision, it’s time to be tested for glaucoma. Another form of vision loss common with glaucoma is a reduction of peripheral vision.
    3. Eye pain or pressure – Pain may be sharp or dull, or there may be a generalized feeling of pressure, akin to what you feel during a sinus infection, but in the eye.
    4. Cloudy looking eyes or whites of the eyes – This is easily discernible in a mirror.
    5. Nausea with or without vomiting – It’s common to experience this symptom in addition to one or more of the others mentioned.
    6. Chronic redness – Are your eyes red and tired looking for many days in a row? This is one of the early warning signs of glaucoma and should be looked into by your eye doctor.
    7. Seeing rainbow rings around lights – Seeing multi-colored rings around lights is a sign that glaucoma might be present.
    8. A severe and sudden headache – If you experience this along with one or more of the other symptoms noted, get treated immediately.
    9. Sudden and severe eye pain out of the blue – This is a critical warning sign of an acute attack of glaucoma, and requires emergency treatment.

    Glaucoma can happen to anyone, although it frequently attacks older persons due to increased risk as people age. It’s important to realize that everyone can get this disease and that early detection offers the best chances of avoiding blindness. The glaucoma test is part of a routine eye exam and is non-invasive. For more information about the glaucoma test, and how to set up your eye doctor’s appointment, please contact us today.

Health

It started late on a Thursday afternoon last May, when I noticed a wispy dark shadow in the lower left corner of my right eye. At first, I didn’t worry about it. But being 62 at the time — a baby boomer — I should have.

For years, I have had “floaters” in both eyes. Small moving spots that appear in a person’s field of vision, floaters typically occur when tiny pieces of the eye’s gellike vitreous humor break loose within the inner back portion of the eye. While annoying, ordinary floaters are very common and rarely are cause for alarm.

But a sudden burst of floaters can be a warning sign that a tear is starting to develop in the retina, the light-sensitive membrane in the back of the eye. An early-stage retinal tear can be treated in an eye doctor’s office with laser surgery that creates a weld around the edges of the tear and usually keeps the retina from detaching, according to Vinay Desai, an ophthalmologist with the Retina Group of Washington (RGW).

I should have called my regular ophthalmologist right away, but I didn’t have health insurance at the time for financial reasons. If this is just another floater, I told myself, I can live with it.

I hadn’t been hit in the eye or experienced any other eye-related injury, so the idea that my retina might be torn never crossed my mind.

But more than 90 percent of retinal detachments occur spontaneously, according to Gordon Byrnes, an RGW surgeon. The National Eye Institute says there are a variety of risk factors for retinal detachments, including being extremely nearsighted, having a family history of the problem and aging. (It also affects more men than women, the NEI reports.)

Many spontaneous tears occur in boomers who develop posterior vitreous separation. This degenerative condition occurs in 30 percent of people older than 50, according to William L. Rich III, an ophthalmologist based in Falls Church, Va.

“Most people think retinal detachments come from trauma, such as being hit by an air bag in an auto accident or getting hit with a racquetball or tennis ball. In fact, most happen while you’re walking down the street or even sleeping,” Rich says.

“As we age, the vitreous jelly, which holds the retina in place, begins to liquefy,” Rich says. “When the vitreous gets less gel-like, it can detach from the back of the eye. As the vitreous starts to detach, it may pull on the retina and cause a tear.” The dark shadow I had dismissed Thursday was my retina starting to tear, the liquefied vitreous gel leaking through.

By Friday evening, the shadow had gotten bigger. By midnight, it was a reddish blob blotting out one-third of the field of vision. Then I started seeing flashes of light that looked like shooting stars. That’s when I called my ophthalmologist, Farhad Naseh at the Maryland Eye Institute in Gaithersburg, Md., leaving an urgent message with the after-hours answering service.

Calling back within minutes, he said to get to the emergency room as fast as I could. The shooting stars, coupled with the reddish blob, are signs that your retina has detached, he said.

My wife and I arrived at the ER around 2:30 a.m. Saturday. Within the hour, an ER doctor had given me a preliminary exam and an ophthalmology resident was en route. By 5 a.m., the resident had examined my eye and the diagnosis was, as my ophthalmologist had feared, a detached retina. The retina had come loose from its supporting layers and the reddish blob was bleeding from blood vessels it had torn.

Even more worrisome, the macula — the part of the retina responsible for fine vision — was in the process of separating from the inside of the eye. Central vision becomes severely affected if the macula becomes detached. The resident spoke with the eye surgeon on call and relayed my diagnosis. The response was the last thing an uninsured patient like me wanted to hear: I needed a major eye operation — a vitrectomy, which removes part of the vitreous gel to get to the retina and repair it — as soon as possible. The surgery would have to be performed in a hospital operating room, under general anesthesia. The cost: more than $20,000.

I wanted to keep from going blind in that eye, but at what cost to my family? The ER charge and physicians’ fees already were estimated at around $1,000. So I called Naseh again, in hopes of finding a less expensive option.

He urged me to call Byrnes immediately. The retinal surgeon told me to meet him at RGW’s Fairfax office right away. He would take a look and see what he could do.

When my wife and I arrived at Byrnes’ office less than an hour later, I was totally blind in my right eye. But after examining me, Byrnes said, “I think we can fix this here.”

The retina had detached from the upper portion of the eye and an adjacent area was torn. Given the location and size of the tear, Byrnes felt I was a candidate for an in-office procedure known as pneumatic retinopexy. At around $1,000, it was a fraction of the cost of the hospital vitrectomy, though Byrnes warned me that it also had a lower success rate: 75 percent compared with 95 percent. I was willing to take that risk.

There was another factor that called for immediate action. “The macula was coming off, and the longer the macula is off, the more vision you lose,” Byrnes says. “We didn’t have time to wait for an operating room; we needed to do something right away.”

After applying numbing drops and injecting local anesthesia, Byrnes placed a small probe in front of my eye directly over the tear; when activated, the probe created a localized freezing spot within the retina. The process creates an irritation that causes a scar to form, and this scar tissue holds the retina against the wall of the eye.

Byrnes then injected a gas bubble into the vitreous jelly inside my eyeball. This would push against the frozen tear in the retina and help seal it in place. The tear has to be in the upper half of the retina for the bubble to be effective. Luckily, mine was.

The procedure was over in less than 10 minutes. Success would depend on keeping the gas bubble pushed against the back of the eye, which meant I needed to go home, put my head down on a pillow on the kitchen table, and sit that way for three hours. After that, for another six hours, I would have to sit still, looking down with my head tipped at a 45-degree angle. That night, I would have to sleep sitting up with my head held erect, using pillows and duct tape across my forehead to attach my head to the wall behind the bed.

Sunday morning dawned — and I could see out of my right eye. My vision was blurry and partially blocked by what looked like several bouncing, purplish balloons, but I could see. The balloonish spots were the gas bubbles, which Byrnes said would be absorbed gradually. When he re-examined me that morning, as he recalled recently, “I was satisfied that the procedure was working for you. It takes several days to form a really strong adhesion.”

Needing a follow-up exam on Tuesday, I went to Desai. After he looked at me, the news was not good. While the retina seemed to be attached, several new tears were now visible.

According to Desai, this is unusual but not unexpected, since whatever had caused the tears to begin can cause continuing and further separation of the vitreous gel.

There was now no getting around the fact that I needed immediate laser surgery. As it does with early-stage tears, the laser would cauterize the area around these new tears and form a bond preventing more vitreous fluid from leaking through and lifting the retina. Desai performed the procedure in the office, under local anesthesia. It took about 20 minutes.

An exam the next day showed the retina holding firm with no new tears. Within two months, my vision was back to 20-30, more or less where it was before the detachment.

I still see some waviness, something like the effect of looking through a pane of old-fashioned glass. “In retinal detachments involving the macula,” Desai explained, “even if the retina is reattached, there can be permanent damage . . . to our sharp vision.”

My out-of-pocket payments to RGW totaled $350: a $250 consult fee prior to the first procedure and a discounted $100 charge for a recheck following the laser treatment. The laser treatment, which usually costs $600, was free.

I asked Byrnes and Desai what prompted their generosity to an uninsured patient. “Our practice provides free care as the situation dictates, Byrnes said. “In your case, payment of the consult fee was sufficient.” “I would never let somebody go blind for financial reasons,” Desai said.

So what are the lessons learned, beyond the value of having health insurance (which I now do have)?

Anyone can suffer retinal detachment, but if you’re a baby boomer, your risk is higher and goes up every year.

The retinal detachment I had, caused by posterior vitreous separation, is “pretty rare” in people younger than 40, says ophthalmologist Alan J. Pollack, but the risk of such a separation increases with age, to about 75 percent of those older than 65. “Most people who get vitreous separation are perfectly fine and don’t get a retinal detachment,” he said.

Even so, “when somebody has a lot of floaters and starts seeing flashes, we always recommend that they come in and have their vision checked,” Pollack says.

So what causes the flashes of light? According to Rich, pieces of protein in the liquefied vitreous jelly stay attached to the retina. When these particles pull on the retina, the flashes, which last only a microsecond, occur.

“Some patients who have flashes and floaters are okay, but a little tear left untreated can turn into a detached retina,” Pollack says.

“The earlier you detect a problem with the retina, the easier it is to get it fixed. By waiting, you can take a relatively simple in-office procedure and turn it into a hospital-based surgery.”

— — —

Holleran is a freelance journalist and public relations consultant.

Seeing Shadows? (Discover What It Means and What You Should Do)

If you’re seeing shadows and shadow people it’s critical you know exactly what to do. Good thing you’re reading this article. Photo: flickr/Rachel Titiriga

It’s not an uncommon experience to catch a glimpse of something dark out of the corner of your eye.

Most often, upon turning towards the glimpse of dark, you no longer see anything.

But you did see it in the first place, right?

Though it’s easy to feel crazy if you start seeing shadows, that just isn’t the case.

In fact, the shadowy figures and flashes you see are probably really there.

But what exactly does seeing these shadowy figures mean?

What are they?

Do they mean you ill intent or are they a positive force like angels?

We explain exactly what seeing these shadow spirits means and what you can do about it.

– Updated 10/14/2019

What are Shadow Spirits?

Most of the time, if you see a shadow out of the corner of your eye, it means you are catching a glimpse of a shadow spirit.

Though there are many ideas of what these shadows are exactly, they are, in fact, shadow spirits the majority of the time.

The organization goes on to state that shadow spirits, or shadow beings, are similar to ghosts and other spirits in many ways.

In fact, these beings go by many different names in various cultures and have been a part of recorded history for thousands of years.

While there are dozens of different types of shadow spirits, all of them seem to be conscious and intelligent.

They’re able to shapeshift and travel in between dimensions with ease.

What Are the Types of Shadow Spirits?

There are various types of shadow entities, each with their own purpose and desires. Photo: flickr/Eden, Janine, and Jim

If you’ve ever seen an entity made of shadow, you probably want to know more about the specific type.

Though there are literally hundreds of examples discussed throughout recorded history, a few are most common.

5 Common Types of Shadow Spirits

The 5 most well-known types of shadow spirits include:

  1. Classic Shadow Beings – Appear as a dark, phantom-like figure in the shape of a human, most often in the dark of night.
  2. Figures in the Forest – Dark figures that appear in heavily wooded forests and move around without causing normal moving sounds.
  3. Dark Figures with Glowing Eyes – Usually described as an evil or demonic spirit, these dark figures have green or red glowing eyes.
  4. Ghosts – Appear as dark figures and are said to be the spirits of humans that passed away.
  5. Men in Black – Appear as humans, often dressed in dark clothing, hats, and glasses, and keep to themselves. Have a secretive and even robotic manner about them.

Other people theorize that some shadow beings are not supernatural, spiritual, or demonic beings at all.

Instead, they insist that a large portion of these shadow entities are actually humans in the form of astral travelers or even time travelers.

Watch this video for more important information about shadow beings:

Are Shadow Spirits Bad?

Many of those that have experiences with seeing shadows claim that the shadowy figure created a feeling of negativity in them.

These same people often describe a feeling of dread or evil that accompanies such sightings and experiences.

However, there is no evidence that such shadow beings are actually dangerous.

Scary and frightening, yes. Dangerous, no.

It seems that all most shadow people and entities can do is scare you.

They show up briefly, most often in the night, causing feelings of fright.

Keep your wits about you while in the shadows. Photo: flickr/Gajman

Despite the fear they cause many people, there isn’t even any evidence that shadow beings are malevolent.

Many people even describe a neutral, or sometimes positive, feeling after seeing them.

There’s a good chance that most shadow spirits don’t have any ill intent at all, but the way they physically manifest in the dark is just scary to humans.

That said, it’s still a smart idea to remain wary around shadow beings and shadow entities.

What Should You Do?

There are a countless number of hypotheses about why shadow people appear.

These range from them being attracted to negative energy (such as stress or anger) to the changing of the earth’s energy to congregating in areas with a lot of electromagnetic activity.

What is important to note is that these figures will disappear on their own. Stand up to them and try not to be scared in their presence.

Work hard to lead a positive life and shun negativity.

Spiritual strength often keeps them at bay by itself.

Even just telling them to go away in a forceful tone has been shown to major effects.

Final Thoughts

There’s no denying that seeing shadows can be scary – but it doesn’t need to be so.

Understanding what shadow beings are is part of the solution.

Knowing what they are, what they want, and how to deal with them is the key to preventing these experiences.

At the same time, it’s important to initially be open to these experiences, as visits by positive beings such as angels can sometimes be misinterpreted as a negative being if you are fearful.

Have Questions?

When you’re feeling confused or unsure, sometimes it’s best to talk directly with someone who has the answers. In situations like this contacting a psychic can be a huge help. Whether you get in touch with the most accurate online psychic, or prefer to call the top telephone psychics, they can give you the clarity you need. If you’d rather chat with someone in our community, please leave a comment below. Whatever you decide, please remember, we’re all in this together!

What could be causing flashing lights in the corner of my eye?

If you are experiencing flashing lights in the corner of your eye it is a good idea to visit an optometrist as there is a chance you are at risk of a retinal detachment. The retina is a thin lining of light-sensitive cells at the back of your eye, and when they begin to pull away from the blood vessels that supply them with oxygen you can go blind in that eye.

The flashing is caused when the vitreous gel in the centre of the eye shrinks, which tugs on the retina. This pulling motion, called vitreous traction, commonly occurs at the edge of your field of vision. While this tugging is often normal and harmless, it can occasionally create a tear in the retina and lead to a detachment. If the flashing is frequent, persistent or has come on suddenly, it is more of a concern.

Detachments most commonly occur because of age, with the retina becoming thinner and more brittle as you get older. However, a direct injury to the eye can also cause the condition. Aside from flashing lights in the corners of your eye, there are other symptoms that can accompany a retinal detachment. These include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • ‘Floaters’ – dark spots or rings that float around in your field of vision

A retinal detachment can also occur without any previous warning signs. In these cases, you may experience a dark curtain or shadow effect coming across your vision. There may also be sudden and immediate vision loss. Due to the severity of retinal detachments and their potential for serious and permanent loss of eyesight, it is important to visit an optometrist if any of the above symptoms occur. If treated quickly, the retina can be reattached surgically, which will prevent any further vision loss. However, some people still experience reduced peripheral or central vision even after a successful surgery.

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