Risk of serious eye condition increases with age

Experts say it’s important for adults to be aware of the warning signs for vision issues.

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – One day, out of the blue, Ray Fernandez noticed changes in his vision.

“It started out with a bunch of little dots running around like tiny UFOs, and I was like ‘wait a minute was that a flock of birds?’ And oh no, it was something else. It’s inside my eye,” Fernandez said.

Two weeks later, a shadow appeared in his vision.

“And immediately I knew I was experiencing a retinal detachment,” Fernandez said.

“A detached retina means the sensory layer on the back of the eye has literally come unattached. The reason why that’s important is because it controls all of our vision so if it’s gone complete then we could potentially go blind,” said Dr. Amanda Nanasy, an optometrist with the Eye Center of Pembroke Pines.

Nanasy said that’s why it’s important to be aware of the warning signs.

“Most patients will have floating spots, some flashing lights, some waviness in their vision, some curtains in the vision but it’s not painful, it’s a painless vision loss, so it would be really easy for a patient to ignore those signs,” she said.

Nanasy said the condition typically affects patients in their fifties and sixties, especially if they’re near sighted.

“The eye is filled with gel, that’s what holds everything together and the retina has pressure on it from that gel and as we age the vitreous gel starts to contract which makes it easier for that retina to pull off,” she said.

Fernandez underwent emergency eye surgery but three months later it happened again.

At that point doctors used a piece of silicone semi-hard plastic to permanently keep the retina in place.

“Thank god we live in a place and time where they can fix it you just have to be really, really careful about not waiting,” he said.

Annual eye exams can help pick up on early signs of a potential problem.

Eye specialists use drops to dilate the pupil, along with special imaging equipment and a manual exam to diagnose issues involving the retina.

About the Authors:

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.