Last week I missed my eye exam because I was having a severe pain day. The eye exam was to do a field test to make sure that my medication for Sjogren’s Syndrome (Plaquenil) wasn’t causing any eye problems. While taking Plaquenil, all users are to get a yearly or bi-yearly field test.
Yesterday I called to reschedule this test. But, I also mentioned to the appointment scheduler that I was seeing flashing lights in my left eye. She said that I should come in that day to be checked. Flashing lights in your vision can be a sign of a retinal detachment. I had already googled that symptom, because it was worrisome.
Although I have had visual auras in my history, they were specific for migraines. These flashes of light were a constant flashing crescent that appeared and lasted 15 minutes. I’ve had these many times and knew that these new lights were very different.
The eye doctor scheduled me for a few hours after my call. I got very nervous. As I read more about retinal tears and detachments, I saw that there were other symptoms:
- Sudden increase in size and amount of floaters
- Sudden appearance of flashes, usually the first stage of detachment
- Shadow appear in the side of your vision
- Gray curtain moving across your vision
- Sudden Decrease in vision (aao.org)
Thankfully, I only had the flashes. I have had a huge amount of floaters for years, but this wasn’t any increase. So, I waited. When I arrived at the office, I was given the dilation drops and sent back to the waiting room. I really hate these drops. When I was younger (and healthier) I never had any problem with dilation. I would get dilated, and the effect would wear off in an hour or two.
The last two times I’ve had dilation, I felt very sick. After about ten minutes, I would get very nauseated and dizzy. My eyes get very dry and hurt. The light bothers me, even with sunglasses. I also get headaches and feel like I’m having the flu. This is not a typical response, but I’m not typical.
There are people that respond poorly to these drops. Mast cell disorder and EDS sufferers are among those who have bad experiences (anecdotal). Feeling sick, flu-like, and irritated makes me dread having dilation every time.
Well, the good news is that I don’t have a detachment. The doctor did say, that a follow up is necessary to check again. She also told me to call back if I had any of the other symptoms of detachment, and they would see me immediately. That was kind of scary. But, I’m thankful to have a good doctor.
The risk factors for having retinal tears or detachments are:
- previous glaucoma, cataract, or other eye surgery
- glaucoma medications that make the pupil small
- severe eye injury
- previous retinal detachment in the other eye
- family history of retinal detachment
- weak areas in the retina, seen by the doctor (aao.org)
If you have these risk factors, make sure to be aware of retinal detachment symptoms. If this happens to you, call your eye doctor immediately. Mine told me to call, even on the weekends. Quick treatment (eye surgery) is necessary to save your eyesight.
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical expert. Information shared is from American Academy of Ophthalmology. My experiences are not medical advice. If you have any medical concerns, please consult your personal physician.
@2018, copyright Lisa Ehrman