A shot in the eye
On the Bright Side
September 16, 2023
When I first found out that my friend Leila got a shot in her eye every month, I freaked out. I was horrified to even think of such a thing. She said it was no big deal; she'd been getting these shots for several years. They were saving her vision.
The idea of losing my vision is one of my worst fears, but I couldn't get over the idea of someone coming at my vulnerable eyeball with a syringe. No! No! No! I have trouble putting eye drops in my eyes, no way could I imagine getting a shot in one. (I'm not fond of shots of any kind, anywhere else in my body, either.)
Then as fate would have it, I discovered one day that I was in need of the same sort of medical procedure.
I went in a few months ago to get my eyes checked for new glasses, which for me includes a diabetic checkup, which meant taking some pictures of my eyes. It turned out that I did indeed need a new prescription, and the optometrist noticed something else: a possible little leak in the macula of my right eye.
She sent me to an ophthalmologist, who ran me through a series of tests and photographs of my eyes. Yes indeed, something was leaking in the back of my right eye.
And the indicated treatment was... a shot in my eye. Once a month for an indeterminate amount of time.
I had a choice, the doctor told me: I could start right then and there, or I could wait and start the next month. But the bottom line was that I did need to start getting regular shots and soon. My diagnosis was age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD), and while the shots would not cure it (there is no cure), they would slow the progression and thus help preserve my eyesight for longer.
I was floored and immediately accelerated-heart-rate scared. But I remembered my friend Leila and how she handled the shots in her eyes as routine, and I thought if she can do it, I can too. I also found I was more afraid of losing my vision than I was of a shot in the eyeball.
I opted for my first shot that very day – no point putting it off and having all that time to worry and fret and work myself into a frenzy.
I know this is hard to believe, but it did turn out to be, as Leila claimed, no big deal.
My eyes were dilated more with drops, and other drops were used as well, including, as I understand it, lidocaine and various anesthetics and antiseptics. I'm not sure what all they put in my eyes, actually (I was concentrating too much on not crying to ask) but they used several different cool drops, let me rest a few minutes, then the doctor came back and added some more drops.
When he was ready to give me the shot, he asked if I wanted to see the needle, to assure myself that it was a tiny and very thin needle. I opted not to view it, and to date, after several more monthly shots, I've never seen the needle that goes into my eye.
The doctor used some sort of contraption against my face which propped my eye open, told me to look to the left, and I did so. Then he said, "There. Done."
I was flabbergasted. It was that simple. It was practically over before I was ready for it to start. As Leila had suggested, it was nothing to get all twisted up about.
I had to wear dark glasses out of the doctor's office because of the dilating, and the shot made things a little blurry for a while. I also noticed a big round black dot, a floater in that eye that I hadn't seen before, but all of that went away quickly. By the next day I couldn't tell I'd had anything done. Have I mentioned it was really no big deal?
I've had several shots by now, the leaking has stopped I'm glad to say, and I'm now on a 60-day schedule instead of monthly. Each experience and how long it takes for the floater to go away varies, but it's become just a sort of ho-hum routine happening for me.
I've also discovered lots of other people go through getting a shot in their eye or eyes on a regular basis for a variety of different reasons – many more than I would have thought – and while few people talk about it, it seems to be a regular procedure for so many. And most agree it's not as bad as it sounds. Thank goodness.
I'm forever grateful to modern medicine, and to the doctors at Kaiser in particular for taking such good care of me and my eyes, and for friends like Leila, who share their experiences and make it so much easier for me to experience the same things.
© 2023 Mel Makaw. Mel, local writer/photographer and author of On the Bright Side, a Collection of Columns (available locally at Tehachapi Arts Center and Healthy Hippie Trading Co.), welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.