Cotton Wool Spots

7:30am Cedars Sinai check-in for an updated chest CT scan.  The last chest CT scan a few months prior showed adenopathy, which is the swelling of the lymph nodes.  Dr. Solsky ordered another scan to see if the lymph nodes were still swollen.  Chest CT scans are a breeze of out all the baseline tests that I have to normally get done once a year for my scleroderma.  I just have to lie down on a mechanical bed, hold my arms over my head and as the bed moves in and out of the x-ray machine where it will tell you to take a deep breath, hold it and then breathe.  Procedure takes about 30 minutes.

I went to work after my test but had another doctor’s appointment with an opthamologist Dr. Solsky recommended, Dr. Stoll in Beverly Hills later that day.  For the past week or so, I was seeing blurred spots in my vision so that when I looked at my computer screen with my left eye shut, some of the letters would be blurred in a line of email.  It was as if my contact lens was dirty and I kept rubbing my eyes to clear it but it wasn’t going away.  I was beginning to get a little concerned about it.

Dr. Stoll dilated my eyes and examined my eyes closely and found that macular edema had occurred.

“Macular edema is swelling of the macula, the small area of the retina responsible for central vision, of which the central 5% of the retina is most critical to vision. The edema is caused by fluid leaking from retinal blood vessels. Blood leaks out of the weak vessel walls into a very small area of the macula, which is rich in cones, the nerve endings that detect color and from which daytime vision depends on, blurring occurs in the middle or just to the side of the central visual field. It can appear like one is looking through cellophane. Visual loss may progress over a period of months, and can be very annoying because of the inability to focus clearly.”

Scary shit, right?  I was basically hemorrhaging in my right eye.  Blood was leaking out of my blood vessels and causing these cotton wool spots to blur my vision.

Dr. Stoll knew that macular edema was occurring but he didn’t know why it was happening so he referred me to another doctor who specializes in retinal degenerations.  Enter Dr. Hopkins at the Retina-Vitreous Associates Medical Group.  I feel like I’m introducing all the players in my very dramatic stage play.  It was pretty close to 6:30pm but Dr. Stoll was able to call Dr. Hopkins office to schedule me an emergency appointment the next day at 1pm.  Though she was working out of the North Hollywood office that day so I’d have to make a trip to the Valley.

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