Friday, August 7, 2009

Retinal Pigment Epithelium Defect

I've been bothered by a funny spot in my vision lately. There's a patch in my left eye that has… issues. So I went to see the only eye doctor in Mackay, Dr Rod Kirkwood—who is a lovely, patient, gentle man who exudes calmness and confidence. And it appears (pun intended) that I have a retinal pigment epithelial defect.

People keep asking me what that means. I don't know, exactly. But I think the question they're really trying to ask is, what am I seeing? So I thought I'd have a go at describing it.

There's a small patch in the vision of my left eye where the image is distorted. The patch is a bit bigger than my blind spot, and near but not coincidental with it. The colours there are wrong—just a little bit. It's like I've just looked away from a light. And if I look at a bright area like the sky or a white wall, it shimmers, almost like a migraine aura.
Also, lines or edges passing through this patch do not look straight. Here's my attempt to fill out an Amsler grid. Note this is not a real Amsler grid; in fact my patch is just off the edge of the standard grid at its normal size (because my defect is away from the centre of my vision). I'm just trying to give you some idea of the way lines “bulge” outwards a little.
There you have it. Dr Kirkwood says he doesn't think it's anything to worry about, or that we can do anything much about. But he wants to see me again in a few weeks, just to check that nothing's changed. Apparently these things can sometimes be caused by a viral infection.

I'm just glad that with my skin's apparent attractiveness to all the fungus around here, I haven't become infected with this scary fungus.


Trish said...

You're sounding like a grandpa!

I could talk about all of the bodily reactions I'm having to my work and school surroundings, but those things are best left unsaid.

Having said that, I hope you get it fixed. Nothing worse than looking like a lichen-infested humanoid.

IT Guru said...

I seem to have the same exact thing as you! I just left the eye doc with the same diagnosis. Would love to hear how things worked out for you. My email is, I'm in New York.
Jerry Sentochnik

Ian said...

Hi Jerry,

How very interesting! My defect seems to have gotten slightly worse, very gradually. The patch in my left eye has grown a little, and I seem also to be getting a small patch in my right. I'm actually going to see my old family ophthalmologist about it very soon, so watch this space.

From my investigating, it seems to be associated with drusen in some people (small spots of yellow fat on the retina or optic nerve head), and changes are sometimes associated with an increase in floaters (small bits of opaque matter that float in the liquid in the eye). It seems also that drusen (a) are sometimes completely benign, not affecting vision at all, and (b) often run in families. Indeed, my mother (who has complained about her poor vision for many years now) apparently has many drusen, she told me recently after a visit to the ophthalmologist.

Curious, I printed off a square grid on some scrap paper, and asked her to tell me whether the lines looked straight to her, one eye covered at a time. No, she tells me, they squiggle all over the place! One of her eyes seemed to be much worse than the other.