In the blink of an eye. That’s all it took Friday night. There it was, a bright flash of light in the corner of my right eye. Every time I turned my head, there was the flash.
Quickly, a backstory. Exactly one year ago last weekend, I was in North Carolina with Laura. We were with the KU baseball team playing in the NCAA Regionals. When we landed, I noticed some very small doughnut-like spots in my right eye. When they didn’t go away the next day, I called an optometrist. The first question he asked me was whether I had seen a flash of light in that eye? He added that if I had, “that’s not good.” Because I hadn’t, he told me I was only seeing “floaters” which are common for someone my age. Over time, I was told gravity would take care of them and they’d sink to the bottom of my eye which they did.
Jumping back to the past weekend. Laura and I were leaving Kansas City after dinner Friday night. The day had been great. As we began to walk to our car it felt as though a hair was stuck in my eye. I kept blinking and even pulled the car over to let Laura see whether she could find something to no avail. Hoping for just eye irritation, we continued home. We had eaten at PF Chang’s. I thought that maybe some sauce might have caused a reaction. Who knew. Then we turned onto our home street. I looked to my right, and as my head turned back there was the bright flash of light. My mind instantly raced back to the optometrist a year ago saying “that’s not good.”
The next day my Lawrence optometrist shot a brilliant bright light into my dilated eye and searched for a detachment of my retina, the “not good” of seeing a flash of light. Never good for anyone. Especially not good if you are a photographer getting ready to fly to Oregon this week for the NCAA Track & Field Championships. As he looked around the eye I could see my retina’s reflection. The many blood vessels made the brown surface look like a dried river bed.
Fortunately, I suffer only from a posterior vitreous detachment resulting in some very big floaters. No hole, no retina detachment. The vitreous fluid was still attached and pulling on the cornea. That caused the light flash. I was told only when the light glitters like a star burst is there truly a problem.
I did nothing to cause this and can do nothing to treat it or further damage it. My optometrist said everyone deals with floaters at points in their life. The gel-like fluid breaks away from the back of the eye and light coming into the eye casts shadows known as floaters. There is a very small chance things could get worse, but really I can only wait and hope that the fluid that is causing the shadows on my eye and the light flashes will ease soon. They’re not fun, but really aren’t anything other than an irritant and a test of patience.
He did tell us of his partner’s plight with a detached retina. A small gas bubble was inserted during surgery into his eye. His partner was forced to lay face down for 23 hours a day for a week to allow the bubble to float upward pressuring the retina to reattach itself to the back of the eye. Mine problems were a good scare for sure, but fortunately just that.
Late Saturday night as Laura and I laid on a blanket on the Hill at KU taking in the beautiful night sky, the lightening to our north confused me as I worked to sort out the natural fire works and the unnatural fire works in my right eye. Proved to be quite a show, and one I hope not to see again.