Saturday, 3 Dec 2022

Eyesight warning: Woman diagnosed with macular hole had ‘no idea’ – ‘Attend check-ups’

Laura Drew details her diagnosis of a macular hole in her eye

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A macular hole is the name given to a small gap that can open up in the centre of the retina – in an area called the macula. If it is left untreated it can lead to retinal detachment, where the retina pulls away from blood vessels, as well as severe injury to the eye and other problems. Laura, from Whitstable, shared the story of her diagnosis in 2019 exclusively with Express.co.uk.

The 39-year-old said: “I went for my regular eye check up and they offered me an ultrasound test with the same machine that takes the picture of the back of the eye – they said they can add on an ultrasound for £10.

“I was aware that I have problems with my retina so I said, ‘Yes, that’ll be lovely’ and then that test was done.

“The optician was very interested in my case because he had not seen someone with my eye conditions before so he took some time and he had a look through.

“He said he’d found a problem that he needed to refer me to the hospital to have it looked at by a retina specialist, and that there was a small hole in the macular, which is the protective layer around the retina.”

Laura, who is helped by her guide dog Jimmy to go about her daily life, was already registered blind due to other conditions including a shortening and thinning of her optic nerve, acute myopia and cone dystrophy.

These conditions meant the usual surgery to repair the hole was too “risky”.

“I could possibly lose the sight I had so I decided to just let it stay as it was,” she said.

“If I thought my sight was getting worse or if I had any symptoms of possible detachment of the retina – I could go straight back and have an appointment and surgery may be offered again.

“I have to adapt to the way I live. Because I have the macular hole I have to be a bit more careful if I have headaches and any deterioration in my sight.”

She explained more about some of the risks that come with a macular hole.

Laura said: “You could have a detached retina, which is an eye emergency.

“That has to be dealt with very quickly and that is a surgery, or you could then potentially lose vision in that eye.

“You could also have increased pressure in the eye where the gel in the eye starts to bulge and then you could potentially again lose sight in that eye and have severe headaches.”

Common symptoms of a macular hole include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Floaters in the front of the eye that look like specks of dirt
  • Seeing lines across the eyes
  • Distorted vision.

Laura urged people to get their eyes checked regularly.

“I would advise anybody to have regular check ups because I didn’t know I had this macular hole and it wasn’t until I had my regular check ups that it was discovered,” she added.

“Anybody should have regular eye checks, just like you do the dentist.”

Around three in 1,000 people over the age of 55 will experience a macular hole.

They are more common in women than men.

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