Thursday, 8 May 2014

Eyes Wide Open

Today was my retinal screening day.

I'd asked and obtained the last appointment slot available as I knew my eyesight wouldn't be up to much for a many hours after the screening.

In previous years I'd been asked to attend hospital but because of where I now live, the hospital team come out to my GPs surgery. It's the first time I've seen the GP waiting room so full of people - most of them there for the last appointment slot of retinal screening - clearly we all wanted a productive day at work before it was ruined by the procedure :)

The screen chimed and told me to visit Room 1. I sat down and the lady introduced herself, explained where she was from, what she would be doing and why - very impressed, a good start!

The usual pre-test questions and assessments were done:

  • What's my name? What's my date of birth?
  • What's my mobile phone number? Where do I live?
  • What's the date of my dx? ...always a fun having to explain this. The system says 2011, not 2009. I guess it depends on whether they want the incorrect or correct dx date :)
  • Am I attending any eye hospital? Have I had any work done on my eyes in the past?
  • What line can I read on the board through each eye?

...and then it was time for those "lovely drops" of Tropicamide 1% to be placed in my eyes.
I was handed a tissue and told to look up so the drops could be administered.

With the drops in my eyes and liquid dibbling down my face, my eyes started to sting but after about 15 seconds the stinging started to fade.

I was handed some leaflets and told to go back in to the waiting room until I was called again.

I find it amusing they place drops in your eyes which makes it hard to read and then provide you with reading material to explain what has just happened, what to expect and what to do if a "rare occasion" occurs. Given my drops went in at 3:30pm I'm not really sure they've thought through what I should do if the "rare occasion" event actually occurs! Should I wait until 9am the following day? I think not!

What's happening and what to do if problems occur

This time, my pack of reading material also included a Diabetes UK leaflet on the 15 healthcare essentials which I thought was a nice touch.

As I waited the 20 minutes required, I watched as each person in the waiting room was called in to get their drops and finally I was called back in to the room.

This time the lights were switched off and I was asked to sit in front of a machine to allow two photographs of each retina to be taken. Just a few minutes work was required and the procedure was complete.

Being cheeky I asked if I could take a photograph of the images they'd just obtained and as usual I got a quizzical look. I "suggested" it was so I could show my wife what they looked like (not quite true but easier to explain!). Bemused she turned the laptop screen towards me and I took a photograph... the only problem is it's difficult to know if the photograph is in focus! How did I do?

My Eyes! My Eyes! My beautiful big red eyes!

Next steps

The images will now be reviewed by someone that knows what they are doing (hopefully) and a summary report on the state of my retinas will be provided to my GP and they will also send me a copy of the letter.

Timescales? I forgot to ask that! #oops