Adjusting to loss of sight in one eye
September 29, 2010 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Adjusting to loss of vision in one eye - and another related question.

A while ago I posted this question for a friend. It turns out that the surgery was unsuccessful, he had to return for a second surgery, and just a few minutes ago he learned that there is a 95% chance that he will lose all sight in one of his eyes. My questions, posted for him and that he will read later, are:

1 - What should he expect in terms of adjusting to loss of vision in one eye? If there are readers who have experienced this, please share what was difficult, what wasn't as difficult as you thought it would be, and what the ultimate adjustment looked like.

2 - This happened because of a detached retina that tore twice. The second time it tore past the macula (which could not be repaired). What is the probability that the retina in his good eye will tear and he will be left completely blind? Is it just completely random, or is it the case that he is at increased risk given that this has happened once already?

Thanks for any insight you can provide.
posted by crapples to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My dad lost the vision in one eye at a fairly young age - I don't recall how young - and was never really negatively affected by it. His depth perception was bad (non-existent), but he had pretty much learned to compensate by the time I was old enough to even know that he couldn't see out of one eye. I don't think most people who knew him had any idea that he was blind in one eye.
posted by jferg at 1:19 PM on September 29, 2010

1) My loss of sight in one eye was gradual over several months, so my experience might be different than your friend's. Once I was at my final vision destination it took about 3-4 months for me to really settle in.

Driving is freaky at first - left hand traffic arrows/lights are your friend. People will throw stuff at him - keys especially (stop this, ppl!). Tell him to just step back and let them fall to the ground to pick them up. Way less embarrassing that way, plus he won't get
hurt. Pouring things - coffee, cereal, wine - will be difficult at first. Stick your finger in the glass to guide
you. Yes, you look like a fool but better that than to waste good wine. (It's just not sexy to slurp it up off the counter.) There's lots of random stuff like that.

Reading will be a challenge simply because his eye will tire much more quickly than before. He'll trip over curbs and stairs. Really, it's embarrassing as hell at first because you look normal but you act like a buffoon. The good news is that you do adjust pretty quickly, three to four months or so.

2). Who knows. The eye doc will probably say as much. It's hard living with 'what if' but therapy does help. Your friend will probably be very scared and feel a bit of self pity and anger. That's WAY normal and a good therapist will see him through.

He MUST, even if the sight in his remaining eye is perfect, wear glasses ALL THE TIME now. Protecting the remaining eye is important. He should wear glasses even at home.

That's really all I can think of at the moment. Feel free to memail me if he has more questions.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 1:20 PM on September 29, 2010

A good friend of mine lost sight in one eye in an accident a few years ago. It took him most of a year to adjust. During that time he complained about problems with depth perception, mainly, and found driving almost impossible. Also he found glare (bright lights, water, snow) much harder to cope with than previously - I'm not sure why. But now he says he hardly even notices a problem. The human brain is remarkably adaptable!
posted by lollusc at 4:36 PM on September 29, 2010

1) This may sound strange but it was easier for me once i lost all sight in my eye as i no longer had a bleed over fo sight from the bad one to the not quite as bad one. You do get used to it quicker than you would expect. Yes they will bump into people and be surprised by people appearing out of no where on that side but thats going to happen. Depth perception is a pain but you get used to reaching for things with more open hands to make sure you get them.

2) I have had problem with my other eye but my timing of finding out about it was different than your friends. They will be told to get to an emergency room as fast as possible if they see white flashes in their eye or anything else out of the ordinary. If the permanent detachment is anything like mine they will recognize those flashes from the bad eye. A very intense, almost, neon white light which in my case moves in a wave across the blind eye for a few seconds. ( the retina hanging there still creates signals just not of any use for sight ). If you get there early enough any procedure should be trivial In my case my problems in both eyes happened very close together. So i have also had multiple sets of work done on my other eye in the last year (2 retinal reattachments , cataract replacement, 2 capsulotomies ) , but your friend has had fair warning to look out for future problems.
They may also need too watch for a cataract forming in the bad eye and the increase of pressure and glaucoma but they are all treatable.

I was also told to wear glasses, even if they were just polycarbonate safety glasses , all the time as i had "lost my spare eye and it would be stupid to go blind because of a piece of dirt"

They have sight, just not binocular sight. They will be okay , there are lots of people with only one working eye you will be surprised how many people you know have never told you until now.

MeMail me if you need to know more.
posted by stuartmm at 11:43 PM on September 29, 2010

I lost vision in my left eye a couple of years ago, and while the transition period was a bummer, I hardly ever notice anymore. My eyesight in my good eye is improved, and there are only a few restrictions to my lifestyle as a result of the sight loss.

- Movie theaters are hard for me now. There is something about the brightness of the screen contrasted by the darkness of the room that my good eye finds overwhelming. 3D is obviously out of the question, so I may be the last person on earth who hasn't seen Avatar.
- Like someone mentioned upthread, glare is a problem and is quite painful in my case. I am not sure why.
- Night driving. My night vision SUCKS DONKEY BALLS now. I cope just fine during the day, but at night I might as well be completely blind. I simply no longer drive at night, I am a danger to myself and others.

Beyond these small things, life really hasn't changed since I lost my binocular sight.

Good luck to your friend.
posted by msali at 1:11 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

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