I never imagined ever in my long years that I would be sitting here talking about blindness. My friend’s mom went blind at the very young age of 52.
Her blindness was caused by a long battle with diabetes. She eventually succumbed to it 25 years later.
The type of blindness she had was diabetic retinopathy, an ugly condition that affects the retina. When it is left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can damage your inability to see and can cause severe depression.
In my friend’s mom’s case, she didn’t want to go to the doctor, until it was just too late. Then the diabetes altogether took her life, and she suffered renal failure.
You can learn more about diabetes and blindness by clicking here.
This is a dramatization; some things were changed to protect the original person’s privacy.
It was a warm summer afternoon and I had just celebrated my early 20’s birthday. I was in a very great mood, because as I could remember, I had just bought a used car and was heading to work.
Then I saw a funny blur in my right eye. I just assumed it was the dry contacts lenses I had on. Or was it the dust that flew into my car as I drove down Pacific Avenue in my city of San Francisco?
So, I just brushed it off, straightened out my dry contacts and went on to work. I arrived at the office where I was a Data Entry Clerk for California Pacific Railroad. I spoke to everyone and went to my desk.
My eyes started tearing up, and I did remember my mom back in my home town of St. Louis saying to me that I was allergic to pollen and some trees, so I knew it was allergy time for me.
However, I wasn’t in St. Louis, I was in California.
I wiped my eyes and started to log into the terminal at my job. Then, like a bad horror movie, spider-like spots started forming across my peripheral vision. I was horrified as I sat at my desk trying to get these things out of my sight.
My co-worker at the next pod was staring at me as I tried to shake off the spots in my eyes. I then jumped up like a fool that rushed in and ran to the restroom and tried to water down my sight. The water raced off my face like a runner on the 100 yard dash.
I then left work and was so scared because I could not see anything in my right eye. My left eye was alone in all of that I could now see. I called my mom and she was always with the drama; asking me did someone hit me in my eye, was I drunk, or did I fall somewhere?
I told her none of those things occurred and rushed to the emergency room. They assigned me to an ophthalmologist and he dilated my eyes, then said he had to check the back vessels of my eyes. That is the first time I had ever heard of a retina (the back of the eyes).
After he was done, he immediately told me I had retinal detachment. I tried to cry but felt I needed to hold in the tears to keep from damaging any more of my sight.
I felt so devastated and stupid. I don’t even know what I could have done to damage the back of my vision. I did box in high school and got punched around a lot, but dang, why now?
I had the surgery days later and my mom came to California to be with me. I had to wear a patch on both eyes for almost a month, while every day, my mom had to put drops in my eyes.
They did a laser procedure on my left eye to seal any potential retinal tear to prevent it from becoming detached like my damaged right eye. I was told I would never regain full sight of my right eye, but my left eye was fine and I could live with one eye.
I felt like Poseidon’s son, Cyclops, and it took me years to get over it and live again.
Today, I am in my 40’s and happily married, and I tell people to go to the eye doctor on the regular. Take care of your eyes and don’t wait like I did until the floaters get worse.
Some say the prolonged use of contacts could be the culprit of retinal detachment, but it is not proven.
To learn more about retinal detachment click here.
Photos by Associated Press