When Diabetics See Red

This was my experience, over the course of 3 years, losing complete vision due to hemorrhaging from type 1 diabetes. Luckily, it was never both eyes at the same time.

(Below are the captions for the images from my Imgur post, if you don’t want to click through)

THE SYMPTOM

In 2011, I noticed a red line in my vision. When I moved my eye from left to right, I can only describe it as being stuck in traffic behind a beta fish as it flurries its tail.

THE DIAGNOSIS

Concerned, I made an appointment with my eye doctor and was told that I had a leak from diabetic retinopathy. Doctor decided to perform panretinal cryotherapy therapy. This is where he lasers the vessels that are leaking to prevent further blood from getting into the vision. Over time the blood got thicker and bigger, eventually making me completely blind in that eye.

THE PROCEDURE

To restore my vision, the doctor decided to perform a vitrectomy. Basically, insertions are made in the eye with a light source and an eye vacuum.

THE NOPE NOPE NOPE

Drill baby drill. (Image: hijacked youtube video)

THE MAGIC

The doctor does a little housekeeping, vacuuming up all the blood to restore vision. (Image: hijacked youtube video)

THE WAITING

And then you wait. And once you’re done waiting, you wait some more.

THE RESTLESSNESS

In order to heal properly, you’ll spend a lot of nights sleeping face down. Not to the side, straight down. Even with the massage chair a friend lent me, it’s some of the worst sleep you’ll get.

THE QUIRKS

At the end of the surgery, he placed a gas bubble to keep the retina in place while I healed. When your pupil is dilated enough, you can see the bubble move. (Image: hijacked youtube video)

THE SLOW REVEAL

Slowly, over a few months, you’ll see the bubble slowly go down. It keeps its round edge and blocks all vision below the curve. The best way to recreate this is to put a large marble in your eye’s vision and slowly roll it down. (Image: my poor attempt to create a visual representation)

THE ADJUSTING

Once the bubble is gone, you become very sensitive to light. It gets a little better over time, but get some sunglasses and wear them everywhere.

THE LIFE AFTER

I went through 5 of these, between both eyes over a 3 year period. Around Christmas 2003 my left eye went blind in 2 hours after another leak. Out of concern for my long term sight, the doctor told me to just let my body absorb it. Took 6 months to be almost normal. After all of this, I have 20/40 vision and only need common reading glasses for small text. I’m sharing all of this to put myself out there. With so few diabetics in my life, sometimes I forget how many diabetics are out there. I’m a 33 year veteran of this disease and have seen almost all of it. It’s scary as shit- but there are answers. There is always hope. Do not let it take anything more away from your life than it already affects. So live, laugh, love- and when it knocks you down, get up and try again. If any of you ever need to talk, or whatever regarding diabetes, message me.