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When To Visit Your Retinal Specialist

What should we consider when we’re having a “bad eye day”? For me, this is a good question because I definitely have good eye days and bad eye days. It is important to note when to notify your eye doc and when to just “soldier on” when our eyes get a little wonky. Let’s delve into some examples.

When to notify the eye doc

For those of us with wet AMD and who are receiving injections; whenever we notice a significant change, we should contact our eye doctor's office. These guys are the pros, let them decide if we should come in. I’ve done this a few times during my 9-year history with AMD.

  • Whenever we get sustained “flashing”, somewhat like a strobe light effect. This may or may not indicate a retinal detachment. It’s possible this is an emergency where the retina is pulling away from supportive tissue. I’ve had this phenomenon briefly happen a few times in the last 9 years, my RS got me in either that day or the next and did an OCT, a dilation, and with a very bright light looked into my eye. Thankfully each time it happened, I was OK and my vision returned to my version of normal.
  • Various other symptoms to pay attention to might be: blurred vision,  tunnel vision, or unusual eye redness.
  • Floaters, while not all floaters and flashes are serious, you should always get checked out with an eye exam from your ophthalmologist or RS.(1)

Again, in many cases, it amounts to nothing serious and we return to our baseline vision. It’s simply that, we can’t take the chance and ignore it and hope for the best. Let the RS decide the course of action. Really all of the above symptoms can apply to those of us with dry AMD, wet AMD, MMD, Stargardt’s disease, or any other serious eye condition.

Your inner voice

Ignore the inner voice that may try to tell you you’re ok, your inner voice might be wrong!
Why did I put that remark in about our inner voices? It’s because AMD is a “slow mover”, it can take years, even decades for your vision to decline noticeably. We run the risk of thinking we know what is happening due to the fact that we’ve had years of experience with this disease. Don’t do it! This type of thinking is dangerous. Let the “big dog” decide!  (By saying big dog, I mean our RS).

Let’s recap

Let's recap what a doctor with the title of RS has to go through to become a retinal specialist.

  • Bachelor’s Degree: 4 years. (usually in a science area like preMed.)
  • Medical school: 4 years.
  • Internship: 1 year.
  • Ophthalmology residency: 3 years.
  • Retina-Vitreous fellowship: 1 to 2 years.

Wow! That’s as much as 14 years to become an RS! So who’re we going to listen to? I’m picking these folks over my inner voice every time. It’s important to remember that most causes of new floaters and flashes can be determined through a clinical exam by an ophthalmologist or retinal specialist. So here’s a sincere wish that 2021 will be a better year for all of us!

Wishing you well on our shared journey.

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