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Eyes and minimising retinopathy

  • 1.  Eyes and minimising retinopathy

    Posted 20-03-2023 09:21

    Dear all, I read with interest today's post on the issues encountered by Trish and her eye problems. 

    my story is a little different. In the early 90s, after 30 years of Type 1, I noticed a slight fuzziness around stars when looking through my telescope but only in my right eye. I saw my GP and got referred to a retinal ophthalmologist. He detected proliferate retinopathy  (PR) in the right eye and recommended laser treatment. I sought a second opinion from another in Sydney. Photos were taken. There were lots of aneurisms in both eyes but no PR yet in the left. It was only a matter of time. Rather than blast the right eye with  more than 3000 shots immediately, he asked what I ate. "Take me through a week" was his request. The most common word uttered was "No". And there I was with an Australian-Italian wife where we are a Mediterranean diet. The "No" was to anything that contained saturated fats, e.g., beef, veal, lamb, cheese, milk etc. 

    instead, he informed me, I was to eat fish, fish, fish and more fish - especially oily fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and tuna. And lots of vegetables too of course, which we did anyway. Brazil nuts for Selenium ( 4 per day), walnuts for omega-3 fatty acids and linseeds (2 desert spoons) ground fresh every day and scattered on muesli. I followed this modification seriously.

    After 3 months, more pictures were taken. Only 1 aneurysm was left and that was in the right eye. Blood vessels had become flexible again with differently V-shaped cholesterol molecules displacing the brick shaped saturated fat ones. 

    Then the 3000+ laser shots over 6 visits 3-weeks apart happened. The nurse had to hold my head into the frame. It was like a punch on the nose for EVERY blast of the laser. Horrible. But the immediate pain was just that, fleeting. Shocking and made me determined never to have it repeated. At the end of the 3 months of shots, he said I was allowed to eat chicken (luxury) once a week and pork once a month but no beef, lamb etc. 

    I kept this up for another 22 years. I detected the changes again in the right eye. The laser treatment 8 years ago was gentle in comparison to 1993. Then I retired and came back to NSW. 

    I had a bleed in my right eye during a skiing accident. I saw another RO, who visits a nearby country town. 

    The treatment regime has changed. No more retina destroying lasers. Rather, the latest treatment involves the injection of specialised drugs that stop the production of the blood vessels. The latest drug, for me, need only be injected 3 times a year into both eyes. Result is that my vision is clear! Brilliant!!!!

    I still eat lots of fish including tinned stuff but watch out for too much salt!

    The treatment options now have evolved massively from the old days. As soon as you notice anything, see your optometrist or GP. Get a referral and act on it. Get your eyes checked out at least once a year and especially your retinas. Consider avoiding saturated fats in any form. Check cholesterol with your GP and  in conjunction with a dietician. 

    Trish's story is a sober reminder of what can happen. Avoid that pathway. 

    David McKinnon