Nov 262014

The people at the ADD Centre are so responsive and careful.

I developed flashes in my eye with the intact retina (the other one is scarred). I, of course, like a 21st century engaged patient, Googled it. And I also began thinking about tDCS and retinas even though the part of my brain that is being stimulated is nowhere near my eyeball. I discovered that the retina can be stimulated by tDCS at frontal (not where I am) and maybe at occipital (not where I am), and I also learnt that there are retinal and cortical phosphenes, though the flashes I was seeing are not phosphenes, according to the ophthamologist I saw. Cortical means the brain produces them. So on that limited knowledge basis, I called Dr. Michael Thompson at the ADD Centre before I saw the ophthalmologist for the emergency appointment. My biggest fear was retinal tears, but I also wanted all known information to pass on to the eye doc in case my stimulated and rapidly healing brain was doing something. And after too-long experience with doctors, I knew the eye docs wouldn’t know much about how what I’m doing with my brain could impact my eyes. I mean, my improving binocular and peripheral vision is a conundrum to them. Brain injury usually robs people of sight, not gives some back. I have an appointment with a specialized eye doc to look at why my scarred eye is starting to work. But I’m skeptical. Maybe I should go in with an optimistic mind, as my neurodoc suggests, as the one time out of ten I’m wrong may be this one time and the eye specialist will give me insight and maybe make the process less discombobulating.

But I digress.

So I talked with Michael about what I’d found in research papers, learnt about how I’m so far in the forefront, I’m essentially in “I don’t know” territory (my neurodoc told me the same on another aspect of my health), that the effects of tDCS are temporary and only long lasting with repeated use so if we stop for a couple of weeks, the effects will wear off and we’ll know if it’s implicated by how my eyes respond. I also learnt we want to stay away from the occipital lobe too so that there’s no unintentional learning effect on my eyes from gamma brainwave biofeedback. So we’ll move it to PZ only.

I’ve done the new protocol of no tDCS and gamma biofeedback at PZ for two weeks now. We will re-evaluate next week, see how my vision is. Right now, the flashes are diminishing, but the huge new cobweb floater dead centre is still hanging about. My brain is adapting, as in ignoring the irrelevant data, to the flashes but not yet the floaters, I guess.

As for what the eye doc found and my own ophthalmologist confirmed: the blurred spots I had a couple months ago were where the vitreous, the clear gel-kind of liquid that fills the interior of the eyeball, attached to the retina. When I began to see flashes and got the large floater, that’s when the vitreous detached from the retina. So the blurred spots became the floater and flashes. The only confusing part for me was that the week before, I realized I had had no blurred spots in my vision for some time. And in fact, I was seeing better than ever. Of course, I should have realized I needed to brace for bad news cause now my vision is blurry and distracting except when my scarred eyeball every now and then adds to the visual information, meaning I get true binocular vision. So why did I not get the floater when the blurred spots disappeared? Is the because my brain adapted to the effect of the vitreous attaching to the retina in those spots long before it detached itself?

Both the eye doc I saw in emergency and my own did a new-to-me procedure on me. They put anesthetic drops in my eye. Put goop on a tiny lens. Then plonked the lens on my cornea, making it look and feel like a giant alien spaceship in my eye, and inspected my retina closely through it. All clear. No tears!

I also coincidentally had had eye tests done four days before the flashes began. I got the results from my own eye doc the same day she inspected my retina. My field of vision in my good eye is excellent. She was impressed. That means my eye is sensitive and sees in the entire field it should. My scarred eye had depressed field of vision, but what she couldn’t believe was how sensitive it was. She expected it to be more depressed than it was. Maybe the brain is seeing through my scars! And that’s why I’m getting binocular vision!! We discussed this new thing and agreed slow adaptation was a good thing. I’m already overwhelmed with the rapid healing of my brain. As the neurodoc said and I agreed: it’s the price I’m paying and willing to pay to do as much treatment as I’m doing.


I found these videos by Kellogg’s useful. If you have (new) flashes or floaters or blurred spots that move and come and go, you may find them helpful to watch when you go see your eye doc.