The New York Times (11/8, D7, Brody) reports in “Personal Health” that “when blood flow through the retina is blocked or when the retina pulls away from the wall of the eye, getting the problem properly diagnosed can be an emergency. Modern treatments can do wonders if they are begun before the damage is irreversible. But a delay in getting to a retinal specialist can diminish the ability of even the best therapy to preserve or restore normal vision.” The piece goes on to describe symptoms of, and treatments for, retinal-vein occlusion and retinal detachment.
In a related feature in the New York Times (11/8, D7, Subscription Publication), Denise Grady describes her experience with a vitreous hemorrhage. Patients who experience symptoms of a “mini-avalanche of the spots that doctors call floaters” along with “lightning-bolt” flashes are advised to seek medical attention promptly. In some cases, a detached retina may present with “blind spots or…black curtains,” and laser surgery is necessary to save sight. In Grady’s case, however, “the vitreous gel that fills the center of the eyeball had shrunk — a normal part of aging — and had pulled away from the retina. The flashes of light were symptoms of its tugging on the retina.” The problem will resolve itself in a couple of weeks.