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Flashing lights after retinal detachment surgery
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Flashing lights after retinal detachment surgery

I had retinal detachment surgery just over a week ago now.  A few days ago I started getting flashing lights again (same as the ones I got prior to surgery) at the top corner of my eye.  This started with a few flashes so I went to see my surgeon who checked my eye and said it all looked ok.  But now 4 days later the flashing is on and off all day.  Is this normal? I phoned my local hospital and they said they would see me at the eye clinic on wednesday but I'm worried sick that - a) I have another detachment or b) I will always have these lights flashing and just have to put up with it.  Can you please tell me why I would be getting these lights? and am I right to be worried sick?

I would love to hear from anyone else who's gone through the same thing.
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35 Comments Post a Comment
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711220_tn?1251894727
Flashes means there is still traction present.  It could lead to another tear.  No treatment for flashes until a tear occurs or the flashes resolve.

Dr. O.
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Avatar_f_tn
What would cause the traction? and Do you mean it is possible it will settle down and the flashes will just stop? I'm hoping for this rather than another tear.  And if I was unfortunate to get another tear could it be treated by laser rather than eye surgery again? many thanks for your advice
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711220_tn?1251894727
A retinal tear is caused by vitreous traction.  Even if you had a vitrectomy some vitreous remains.  The traction can decrease with time or create anther tear.

Dr. O.
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Avatar_f_tn
I have seen my eye clinic since my last post and luckily for me there is no new tear or detachment.  The flashes have been explained by the doctor as by being caused by the scar tissue I have after my retinal detachment surgery.  I have been advised that they should stop in the next couple of weeks or so.  Phew! What a relief - I hope this infor may help others.
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1217293_tn?1406773086
I had retinal detachment surgery in April of 2005 when I was just 35 in my left eye.  It does take a long time to heal.  I was told not to use the computer for at least two weeks after surgery.  I could not wear my contact lenses for at least two months because they made me dizzy.  I feel it took 6 months to really heal.  Rest a lot and take it easy.   I stayed home from work for two weeks, but I should have stayed home at least three.  I had the gas bubble and the surgery.  My vision has maintained, but I do have floaters.  
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks for your comment - its good to hear from someone who has gone thru the same thing although I didn't have the bubble - I had the surgery.  Unfortunately I did not have a very communicative surgeon and was told very little (although I can't fault his surgery skills) I wasn't told what I could or couldn't do or how long healing would take.  I am still experiencing the flashing lights which is a problem but I am hopeful it will stop in the next couple of weeks as I was advised.  I can't believe you still get floaters 5 years on, how do you deal with it or do you get used to them? Its nice to hear that your vision is good and I am pleased for you.  At the end of the day we are very lucky as some people lose their sight completely.  I am still blurred but its definately got a bit better 2 weeks on from the surgery.
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1217293_tn?1406773086
Yeah, the blurry vision stays for several weeks.  I also found that my good eye, was watering because it was working twice as hard.
When I first had the surgery, I saw blue and it was not possible to watch tv without seeing the people distorted.  I did a lot of research online and found that six months is normal to really feel healed.   I had both the bubble and the surgery because I was completely blind by the time I had surgery.  I was told I had a 80% chance of seeing again if I did both and only a 50% chance if I only did the gas bubbles.  
I usually notice my floaters the most at night when I am wearing my glasses instead of contact lenses.  They don't really bother me that much.  
I was afraid of going blind again, so I had several checks up after the procedure. Now I only go once a year.   I was last seen in December and everything looks good.  I did have my other eye repaired with a laser to prevent detachment a few months after my surgery in 2005.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask since I know going through this surgery is difficult.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi thanks for your last comment.  I have still got blurry vision nearly a month on from my surgery and went for an eyetest yesterday but was told to wait a few more weeks before I get a new prescription for my glasses.  I could only read the top 2 lines on the eyetest - you know the huge letters! Today I think I've got an eye infection though as my eye feels really gritty in the outer corner and uncomfortable - did you ever suffer these symptoms after your surgery?? So pleased that your last check up went well - its a worry and it gives me hope!!
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1217293_tn?1406773086
Oh yes, I couldn't really read for a long time.  My eye was red for months.  I still wake up with it red in the corner, so I am using wetting drops many mornings.  They gave me drops to use as a prescription for 2-3 weeks after surgery to prevent infection.  I remember looking in the mirror and feeling like my eye didn't look all the way open.

I would wait at least 6 months after surgery before getting new glasses.  I felt like my glasses were weak for a few months and then I was fine.  My prescription changed very little in the past five years.  
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks again for taking the time to leave me a comment. I had the eye clinic again today and got a stitch taken out as it was what was causing me the eye irritation and gritty feeling.  It feels much better already.  On the downside today my eye pressure was extremely high so now I'm on drops to lower it - it feels there is always something wrong! My glasses are weak for me too, so much so that I cannot drive and I think I'm just in a rush to get new ones so I can have a normal life again! I will just have to be patiend as you've said it takes about 6 months to recover.  To think I didn't even know what a retinal detachment was a month ago!
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Avatar_m_tn
I had retinal detachment surgery for my right eye on 20 Jan 2010. I am having same problem as yours that getting flashing of lights after a week from retinal detachments surgery and it create floaters to my left eyes also. Next 2 days I will goto futher check up, I hope can get good news from Doctor.
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi guys im happy to read your storys about some flashing in the eye one week after detachment surgery as i have the same now. Worried sick that it has detached again. I have toxoplasmosis in the right eye which caused a lot of damage last flare up 5 years ago but has remained  quiet since, but it caused scarring on the retina and some macula damage which caused now the detachment.Sight in the eye before was probably 50% which before the detachment has fell to 10%. My surgeon is confident that i may get back as far as 70% which would be super. I had very invasive surgery of a scleral buckle and vitrectomy. My eye is now full of silicon oil and dilated daily so vision is very bad. i had surgery in dublin on 13 july 10, laid on my back to posture for 6 full days only taking a break for 5 minutes or so every hour before i could move around a little the last few days. So im really hoping my retina remains flat attached and in good condition and i will try not to worry until i see my surgeon again in a few days.. eoin ireland
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello Everyone,
I had a severe RD, scleral buckle and silicone oil.  I had flashes of light for 6 months off and on.  No one who hasn't been through this nightmare would never understand how frightening and paranoid one gets about it happening again. I made several "panic" trips to the doctors office to get checked when I saw wierd things in my vision.
I just had cataract surgery last week,  but I still have poor vision and my central vision is blurred.  Not sure what the plan is other than the cataract doctor told me he'll use a YAG laser in 3 months to try to clear up the scar tissue on the capsule that holds my new lens and I see the retinal doctor 8/3.  Last time I was there a month ago, he told me I've developed a macular pucker and that is why I have some bend to straight lines in my vision.  He said he wanted to see how my vision was after the cataract was out before we talked about possible treatment for the pucker.  This is a long, frightening road...not knowing if you'll ever see "normal" again.  
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1217293_tn?1406773086
Candace, I felt the same way you did after surgery, I was really scared.  I am happy to say five years later I am still doing GREAT like I mentioned above.  Remember to take it easy and let your body get lots of rest so you can heal!  Give it time and hopefully your recent treatment was a success!
Risa
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi just noticed your comment as hadn't been on here in a while - how are you getting on? How did you get on with your surgeon? Its got to be the worst experience of my life as like you I had very invasive surgery and more than 6 months on I still have this flashing lights in the corner of my eye.  Whats most frightening for me is the flashing lights are what started were my symptoms for having a detached retina, and now I worry its happening again.  I hope everything is going well for you and everyone else who suffers from this.  Its truly a worrying time for us all!
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1415321_tn?1306973553
Just thought I would jump in here.  I had a retinal reattachment using a scleral buckle and vitrectomy with a gas bubble in April of 2009.  The bubble created a cataract and I had that removed in November 2009.  I continue to have the flashing lights - for me they look sort of like a ceiling fan - but overall I have good sight.  I wear a contact in my uncorrected eye as it's -7.5; the detached eye was a -9.5 before the IOL.  The distance focal point variable between the eyes while reading is still very irritating, but distance viewing is great.  The IOL quivers/flickers noticeably and may be contributing to the light flashing, but it hasn't affected my visual acuity.  Other people will sometimes ask me what's wrong with my eye when they notice it flickering - it looks weird.  Good luck to all of you and hang in there and be patient -- it takes a long while for it all to settle down and  for vision to stabilize.  Like others said, at least 6 months.
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Avatar_f_tn
I had surgery for retinal detachment when I was 24 It's now a year later and I'm still seeing the flashing lights.  On top of that I have to go for cataract surgery on the same eye and my "good" eye has been twitching for the last 2 weeks.  What is wrong with my eyes?..
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Avatar_m_tn
Hello, finding this thread has been really helpful. My wife has had two sessions of emergency laser surgery for what appears to be a chronic detached retina. We went to see the doctor this morning, two days later. He said it looked like the laser scarring was holding everything together, but it was up to us to decide whether we wanted to go ahead and have the gas bubble surgery. It is now the night time and a few moments ago my wife experienced another flash and burst into tears. I want to take her back to the hospital first thing tomorrow. But from what I'm reading here, this sounds like par for the course.

What kind of surgery did you have exactly, before experiencing these same flashes again? Was it also laser? Or did you have one of the more invasive procedures?

How much do you think we should be worrying?
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm so glad I found this thread, its good people share their experiences, not just negative ones. I just had my second detachment in 2months, first was a total detachment, had a long lasting gas put in. (happened a day I was due to migrate to oz) :( as I went for a routine check up, I was told it's all good, retina stayed attachment. Scary, that night I can see a white veil at the corner of the eye. I thought it was the cataract. But it started to grow. By thurs I went to see the doc and had the second op by Friday morning. This time it's and short gas, only 70% filled? Why? I haven't managed to talk to the consultant since. That uk NHS system for you. I hopefully be able to see him next Friday and ask him plenty of questions. I managed to delayed my initial flight til aug 1st. Hopefully the gas be gone few days before, if not I just have to miss it. I just wait to reunite with my wife after 2months. :) has any one travel on the place so soon after?
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Avatar_m_tn
im 18 and have had both cataracts taken out 3 RD surgerys and a squint surgery i was diagnosed with cataracts when i was 16. in july this yeara few weeks after cataract surgery i was diagnosed with retinal detachments in both eyes and had been legally blind for at least 3 months. the retina in my left eye was almost fully detached. the did my right eye on the 1st of august the day after i was diagnosed with RD's and the left on the 4th of august. left had silicone oil and rightr had a gas bubble along with laser. a month or so later my lefdt retina detached again. in the next surgery for it the removed thwe oil used a laser did a retinectomy (removed part of the retina tro relieve some stress) and several more procedures which i cant remember the name of.  i am legal;ly bling in my left eye with a limited field of vision.i have surgery on the 21st of this month to remove the oil then in next few months in need YAG laser treatment to remove secondaary cataracts. i still get alot of flashing and am terrfied its  gunna keep detaching again and again
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4965701_tn?1361674677
i had a ruptured globe last year and had a major surgery done to fix my retina and now i see flashes and i told my doctor and we did a laser i surgery to fix my retina because he said i did still have a few tares i think either my optic nerve or my retina not sure but after the laser surgery i continue to see them and i dont go back for another 6months is it normal or am i ****** lol please help.
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Avatar_m_tn
I developed some kind of eye infection in the right eye in October of 2012 and for the years before that I had perfect vision and I got surgery on January 16 2013 and now has been almost 2 months since surgery but my eye is still dilated and has been since this started and retina is still attached 2 months later and the infection detached the retina in the right eye and my left eye as floaters and the retina in the left eye is soar is that because of the strain the right eye is putting on the left eye? Or is that because my left eye was slightly infected? How long does it usually take to know if the eye will undilate? I am waiting and will wait as long as it takes but would like someone to give me a possible time frame please? I went to my doctor and he don't see any signs of infection in the left one. I would really be thankful for anyone's help on this matter :)
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Avatar_m_tn
I've had a total of 13 eye surgeries since I was a kid and 7 since Nov 2012.
It is a life altering experience and seems to be more of an art than a science LOL. I'm not a doctor but I'd like to clarify some FLASHES VS FLICKERing is kinda two different things.. Flashes LIKE lightning bolt arcs is traction related FLICKERING i think occurs when the retina Separates from membrane OR when the retina reattaches.  I think most people will experience flickering as scar tissue is growing as the laser treatment heals.  Now this morning 6 weeks past my latest vitrectomy RD I woke up to extremely blurry vision and new floaters.  anyway I'm tired of straining my eyes on this computer if anybody wants to voice try http://www.myeyesight.net a voice driven support community for people with these eye nightmares. best of luck to you all.
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm experiencing flashes after surgery.  I had a gas bubble put on.  I'm very nervous.  I hope is not another detachment.
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Avatar_m_tn
Great thread to have found. I'm a 22 year old male, I suffered from retinal detachment when I was 19 which resulted in me needing a scleral buckle and gas bubble! Having thought the nightmare was over, I continued my studies at university and secured employment. Freshly graduated, the weekend of my first week of employment I went to the hospital due to flashes (day after graduation) then I was told I had another detachment which has meant that I have had to go on sick after my first week!!! So here I am after the first week of surgery, I had the first buckle removed and another put in place but strangely no gas bubble? I didn't have a viterectomy so I'm worried that maybe this problem could occur again? Any thoughts? Good luck all
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Avatar_f_tn
I'm 39 and I am legally blind without corrective lenses. My myopia is correctable about -17 and -18 at present and I've been told I have the steepest corneas my eye doctor has ever seen. Anyway I suffered a long expected retinal detachment in my left eye mid-September 2013 and am just about 2 months out from surgery.  I had the vitreous removed and a gas bubble placed in my eye.  

48 hours after I was first able to sit up after my 2 weeks of "face down" my vision in my left eye went completely cloudy.  It was like looking through a glass of milk!  I ended up having to make the 3 hour trip to see the surgeon again, luckily it was determined that the cloudiness was just what he called a "gas cataract" and it did clear up within 48 hours.  I also went through a few days where my IOP skyrocketed and they put me on drops.  I haven't had problems with IOP since. Also had issues with my blood pressure during the last 4 or 5 days of my "face down". I'd literally have my left eye black out for a second and then I'd see stars for 2 or 3 seconds after and then my vision would come back completely. Only happened after I'd get up from laying face down for an extended period of time.  My surgeon explained that the face down position can be very hard on the carotid arteries, once I was upright again the blood pressure issues went away.

My surgeon says my eye looks good and my next appointment isn't until February 2014, but I'm also having some "flashes" of light post surgery. They are not the same as the lightening bolt flashes I was getting when my retinal tear and detachment first happened.  These are more of a slow pulsing light up the outer edge of my eye where the surgery was done. My surgeon told me that the eye treats a retinal detachment and the surgery to repair it just like it would any other injury which means scarring. My mom had to undergo surgery to repair a 2nd retinal detachment due to excessive scarring from her first surgery, 6 months later she still has oil in her eye from that surgery to insure the retina fully heals so she hopefully won't have to have a 3rd surgery. Needless to say I'm nervous about my scarring getting worse after watching what my mom went through earlier this year.  It's my understanding that it may be 6 or more months before my body considers my retina healed.  

My last trip to the surgeon indicated I presently have 20/20 correctable vision in my damaged eye. I still have a tiny tiny bit of gas bubble in my eye 2 months out and my surgeon is now monitoring me for cataract formation. So if all goes well and I don't have a 2nd detachment my vision should be right where it was pre-detachment and so far I have no floaters in my left eye.

I do my best to rest my eyes as much as I can. I work on a computer 8 hours a day and try to remember to force myself to look away from the screen ever 20 minutes or so. I had dry eyes to begin with but that problem is now worse in both of my eyes it seem, I never go anywhere without a bottle of artificial tears. My right eye has taken a beating during this and I now have floaters in it.  The surgeon said my right eye looked good but should I get ANY flashes of light in it to call him immediately.  Apparently it is much easier to repair and recover from a retinal tear and he doesn't want me to have to undergo the detachment repair process in both eyes if I don't have to.

Anyone who has not had to go through this kind of surgery has absolutely no clue how much it puts a person on edge.  I spent the first week after I was able to do something other than "face down" obsessing over whether or not a shadow I was seeing was actually just a shadow I was seeing in the room or a new detachment. I have always had some minor issues with anxiety but my GP has since put me on meds until my eye heals. I started having some really serious panic attacks after this happened to me.
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Avatar_m_tn
how long were u in a face down position?
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Avatar_f_tn
I was face down for 14 days.  

My mother went through the face down position twice, 9 days the first time and 18 days after her second surgery. She also has to do the face down position 30 minutes 3 times a day until the surgeon removes the oil. She's been doing that for nearly 6 months now. I'm really hoping to avoid having to go through what my mom did.
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Avatar_f_tn
How,long were you off work?  I work on computers & have been off for 4 weeks since surgery and my vision is ok but i have blurry and double vision at times when both try to focus together on fine details.  I feel I could return to work now but worry on making lots of mistakes with my vision the way it is.  my doctor has given me a note to stay off but I wonder if I would return to get back into routine.  
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Avatar_m_tn
Hello i hope you are still following this conversation.
My son had a surgery with the silicone oil a week ago, still sees flash light and distortion. Doctor did not ask him for a spectial head positioning which is necessary for gas bubble. Is it normal not to take care of the head position with the silicone oil option?
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Avatar_f_tn
I too had the retinal reattached and a gas bubble. This was 6 months ago and I just went for a check up for new glasses and I too could only read the top two lines, but only when the card was closd to my eye.  It is still blurred and I see the white flashes of light once again, so worried that it is starting to detach afain, also getting pain and and off. They dilated my eye last night around 3:30 (2.3.14) and my son told me it was still dilated. I also found out that now I have cataracts.  The eye that had surgery is more prevalent that then left eye. Great!
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Avatar_f_tn
I had a scleral buckle surgery in Oct of 2013.  Its been over a year and I still have flickers of light almost constantly in that eye. It drives a person mad, the worry and the wonder.  I have gone to the surgeon SEVERAL SEVERAL times... and he says everything looks fine.  My retina was detached for 6 months before I had surgery.. I'm sure that's not too common so maybe that's why I'm still having problems.
It just seems like since 2 weeks after my surgery and up until now I've been having constant weird things happening with my eye.
The dryness is crazy (in both eyes), Starting from 2 weeks after surgery I had a black spot in my scleral eye that was not there before.  this went away after a few weeks... I prayed and prayed and it went away.  
But now, there is a constant flicker of shadow where I guess my detachment was (it's hard to describe, its not light, and its not dark, just imagine a dim flickering bulb in your top field of vision most of the day.  Also, I get lightning bolts across my eye from morning until night, sometime very rarely and sometimes 10-20 times an hour.
And apparently, news to me, I have a buckle on only half my eye? I tried googling it and not sure if its possible?  the doctor said there is less risk during recovery so he only put the buckle on the bottom portion of my eye.  How is it pinching my eye then?
I too have crazy anxiety and this has not helped.  I constantly check my vision and I actually found a retinal hole in my other eye before my ophthalmologist did.  Got that lasered and I can still see the darkish ring at times.
Anywho, basically, I just wanted to write to let you guys know that I am STILL in the same boat after a year and a half. No on knows the panic and anxiety and depression hat follows these types of surgery.
My heart goes out to everyone. I'm still in that boat!
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1932338_tn?1349223998
Just know, I feel your pain.  Went thru a Macular pucker surgery/Vitrectomy a few years ago.   Hang in there, my heart goes out to you too.
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm a 37 year old male and have experienced 2 RD's and 2 vitrectomy surgeries (with gas bubble) in my right eye. The retina specialist said I had lattice degeneration on both eyes, so they also did a preemptive laser surgery on my left eye to help prevent the same thing from happening to it. After both vitrectomies, I have continued to have flashes and flickers of light.

The flashes have literally looked like a camera flash bulb going off inside of my eye. These always happened when I would be startled by an unexpected sound, and when I would be laying down (face-down of course) with my eyes closed. The first time it happened was from a door slamming. But after that, it would often be a fairly soft sound, like a cell phone beeping to let you know you had a text message. In any case, it is pretty terrifying.

The flickers appear out in my peripheral vision (to the right), and sometimes happen as much as a dozen or so times during the day. I have also sometimes seen bubbles/balls/spheres of light in my peripheral vision instead of the arc-like flickers.

In any case, I am now about 6 weeks into the recovery from my last vitrectomy, my bubble is probably at about 5%. At my last check-up a week ago, the retina specialist said the retina looks good, is nice and flat, and he doesn't seem to worried about the weird stuff which I described above. I have also still had a few floaters since the last surgery, but again, he said he isn't worried about them.

I haven't come through this process unscathed though. I have some significant blind spots/streaks in my peripheral vision now (the doctor says where they concentrated the laser), and even my central vision is pretty blurry. I need new glasses, but am going to wait until the bubble is gone and probably even a little longer until after the dust settles. At my last checkup, I was seeing like 20/40 or 20/50, but the checkup prior to that, I was only seeing like 20/100, so I am hopeful that things will get better. I also have a cataract (had one before this all started, so it's probably gotten worse), but the doctor said we will deal with that a few months down the road.

I was off work for a total of almost three months, and am planning to return to the office for the first time later this week. I also drove a car again for the first time yesterday. So I am just now starting to return to some normal activities with a few remaining restrictions: no lying on my back, no heavy/strenuous lifting, and nothing too jarring or high impact.

I am a musician and have played the drums since I was 12 years old, but have yet to start playing again since the RD's. The doctor said I could start playing again if I would "start slow", but I think I'm going to hold off until he basically gives me the all-clear and says I'm totally out of the woods. I don't want to do anything prematurely that might jeopardize my recovery.

I was encouraged by much of what I read in this post, so I thought I would share my story in the hopes that it might also help someone else.
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1932338_tn?1349223998
Thank you for sharing your story, and yes it does help to hear others experiences on this forum.  Sounds like you are well on your way to a good recovery.  I too had a Vitrectomy for a retina membrane.  My vision now is better than with the membrane covering my retina/macula...but have a blank spot and some remaining blur.  The retina is so delicate that the surgery, etc can mess with it, hence I am happy with what I am left with knowing it could have been so much worse.

Take care.
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