Friday, April 14, 2006

Who's Had Their Eyes Lasered?

While I'm waiting to see if I'm actually pregnant, I had an eye doc's appointment earlier this week. I've had non-proliferative retinopathy in both eyes for awhile now, and it's typically meant that I see the eye doctor every 3-6 months. My vision has never been affected and friends marvel that since I don't wear glasses or contacts my eyes must be great.

They're not great at all.

This week, after an appointment where my eyes were dilated and the eye doc directed a bright light into my eyes for so long I felt like I was a prisoner being tortured in Abu Ghraib, the eye doc said she found more leakage of a few blood vessels, and that if I'm pregnant, she'd definitely start with laser treatment in both eyes.

I've had one diabetic friend, diagnosed in childhood around the same time as I was, tell me she had laser treatment when she was 20 and that it didn't affect her vision at all.

And while I've always known intellectually that I would need laser treatment when I got pregnant, and that my eyes for someone who's been T1 for 28 years are typical, the thought of possibly losing my vision made me break down unexpectedly in the eye doctor's chair.

I read for a living. Reading and writing are what define me. The thought of losing my eyesight sends me into a panic.

The eye doc told me that she's done many of these procedures, and that it's possible to lose some peripheral or night vision with laser, but it's also possible that the vision remains the same. After my appointment, I put my hands around my eyes to try to see with restricted peripheral vision. It wasn't bad, but I didn't like it.

I pointed out that my A1Cs have been in non-diabetic ranges for about a year now, so why would my eyes be ready for laser treatment now? The doc only said that it's unclear why things deteriorate when they do, and that because I've been T1 for so long, it was not unusual.

She also pointed out that laser treatment can sometimes quiet the rest of the eye down so that the blood vessels never act up again. That was the one positive nugget I remember.

She was kind and calm and I felt bad that I broke down in her office, but I just wanted to get out of there because she just couldn't give me a lot of definite answers about anything.

So I turn to you, my diabetic peers who know about such experiences firsthand. Who has had laser surgery for severe non-proliferative retinopathy in both eyes? How unpleasant was it? Did you lose any peripheral or night vision? And how'd your eyes react after the surgery? And to be clear, I am not talking about LASIK or sight-fixing laser treatment, nor am I talking about some glamorous cosmetic surgery.

I know a lot of parents with diabetic kids often comment on my posts, and I appreciate any comments at all. But if you've been a longtime lurker and never commented, but YOU KNOW WHAT LASER TREATMENT FOR RETINOPATHY IS LIKE, please share your experiences. Thanks.


Sandra Miller said...

I read this post through tears-- thinking how frightening it must have been, sitting in that chair.

And what if it were my son?

Lyrehca, I can't share any first-hand experiences here, but I can tell you that shortly after Joseph's diagnosis I was in a panic about all of the possible complications of diabetes.

And then I spoke with my husband's manager-- a man who has had Type 1 for over 30 years. He told me that the only complication he'd ever experienced was retinopathy in both eyes, but (as he put it) "that was taken care of with laser surgery and I haven't had a problem since."

Hang in there.

Lyrehca said...

Thanks, Sandra. Would you ask your husband's manager if he ever lost any night/peripheral vision? It doesn't sound like it affected his vision at all, but it's good to get reassurance.

julia said...

lyrecha, I can't comment first-nad either, but I had a boss who'd had diabetes for about the same amount of time you've had it. She had degeneritive maculitis (I think - something to do with rods and cones and developing tunnel vision). She had laser surgery and was fine after that. Still needed glasses for up close stuff, but the tunnel vision was cleared up.

I can understand it making you panic. I would be, too. Have you talked to your endo about this, to see if you can get any more information about how the surgery usually turns out?

Sandra Miller said...


Unfortunately, my husband's manager wasn't in the office today.

But Ryan did tell me that his manager had assured him shortly after Joseph's diagnosis that he had no problems-- saying specifically that, aside from the need for reading glasses, his vision was perfect.

art-sweet said...

lyrehca -

How scary! I wish I had reassuring news for you, but can only say that I'm thinking of you and hoping that
a) you're pregnant and b) your eyes will be okay.

Please keep us posted.



caren said...

Hi. I have not had my eyes lasered, but this post made me think of a discussion on Diabetic Mommy that I just read. Many of the women there have had the surgery done. Perhaps it may be something you'd want to check out? The link to the post I was thinking of is:

You can just go to and then go into the Delphi Forum. I hope this helps you find the answers you were looking for! It was in the TTC folder, but I think there was also one in general recently.

Good Luck with EVERYTHING.



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