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Old May 8, 2012, 01:45 PM   #1
Nnobby45
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Recoil and retinal damage

I posted it here because shotguns seem to get the most attention with this subject.

Was shooting some heavy slugs on Saturday, but only ten rds. I was positioned wrong on one shot and it wacked me good and jarred my head. A good reminder that I'm not 30 anymore.

Saturday night I had peripheral light flashes and on Monday noticed large cob web like floaters in right eye along with a million small black dots.

Last night, I Googled around for "recoil retina damage" and there was a wide perception that this can cause detached retina and I was real concerned

Went to see Opthamalogist today and on the way noticed a big decrease in vision. I was worried. I'm scheduled for cataract surgery in that eye, but this was worse.

Well, the doctor said that it probably was caused by the heavy recoil.

He said it was bound to happen anyway with regards to the gel breaking loose and floating around the eye. It's something that happens to 95% of old geezers like me. I'm 66.

He wasn't too concerned about the light flashes associated with the pressure of the gel pulling on the retina. Especially since they've decreased a lot since Saturday.

Examination showed no retina damage--it was not pulled away by the gel, which apparently is completely detached and now floating free. That' good.

He said the blood would dissipate and improve vision and the floaters would likely, also.

I asked him if I needed to give up hard recoiling shotguns and he said NO.

He said about 5% of old folks eventually have tears in the retina or even detachment.

This would, of course, apply to heavy recoil shooters as well, and not necessarily be associated with the recoil.

On the other hand, some shooters, after having similar problems have been advised by their doctors to give up shooting shotguns and hard recoiling rifles. You can understand the confusion on the subject.

Any eye docs out there?

What board members have had similar experiences? Thoughts, please.

Last edited by Nnobby45; May 8, 2012 at 03:41 PM.
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Old May 8, 2012, 02:13 PM   #2
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I'm a year older than you and have been seeing a retinologist, on a regular basis for a decade, on a different matter. It's my understanding, with some retinal problems, time is of the essence -- a second opinion couldn't hurt, get to a retinologist, ASAP.
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Old May 8, 2012, 02:13 PM   #3
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When that happened to my father the Doctor told him to stop shooting hard recoiling rifles for a few weeks. He now shoots them again.
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Old May 8, 2012, 03:49 PM   #4
Nnobby45
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Quote:
I'm a year older than you and have been seeing a retinologist, on a regular basis for a decade, on a different matter. It's my understanding, with some retinal problems, time is of the essence -- a second opinion couldn't hurt, get to a retinologist, ASAP.
Yes, seeing the Doc immediately is important. I'm satisfied that the exam was thorough enough. These people do surgery and cataract implants. But I'm scheduled to see my Retinologist (Opthomologist specializing in retinal matters) in a couple of months and I'll take your advice and get a second opinion.

Per my Doctor: If you ever experience symptons consistent with dark shadows intruding into your vision (not talking about floaters) then call ASAP. Day or night. Retinal damage, serious emergency.
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Old May 9, 2012, 05:38 AM   #5
Dave McC
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A friend and mentor had a detached retina that was blamed on much shooting. He could only shoot 410s and 22s for a while. He's now back up to speed, but it took a couple years.
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Old May 9, 2012, 07:52 PM   #6
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Wow I am 62 years old and just ordered an new 12 gauge. Hope I don't have that issue. I haven't shot a shotgun in 30 years. My son wants to trap shoot so I wanted in. I never thought about this.
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Old May 10, 2012, 06:43 AM   #7
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What kind of gun and load were you shooting? I am thinking of shooting light loads in my 12 ga. Does someone make a low recoil or light load for steel shot?
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Old May 10, 2012, 06:56 AM   #8
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You can use an auto shotgun , a better recoil pad , add weight.
Large bore DG rifles like the 600NE even though a heavy gun can cause problems or a very light weight rifle in a magnum cartridge like a 33WM in a 7 lb gun.A properly fitted stock helps . Pay attention to these things and stop being macho !
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Old May 10, 2012, 07:08 AM   #9
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I have had 6 eye surgeries in the last 6 years. It all started with a retina detachment in the right eye that was repaired with a gas bubble and positioning of my head to keep the gas bubble in position against the detachment for 5 days. After that I had in office laser treatments in both eyes to secure the retina. As we age, am 63 now and a person that is near sighted, the gel on the retina dries and pulls on the retina, that can cause a detachment, with it come floaters and light flashes in the eye. I ended up with vitrectomy surgeries in both eyes for extreme floaters, removal of the vitrous fluid in the eye, the eye is left only with air in it and it fills on it's own with water in about 10 days time. The last year I had a macular hole in the left eye and had surgery on that eye along with cateract surgery in both eyes a few years ago. If retina surgery was not as advanced as it is today I would be blind but am lucky to have very good vision after all of that and am grateful to my retina specialist.

Added, in my case the eye floaters never did decrease and prevented me from driving at night. The only cure was the vitrectomy, removal of the vitrous fluid in the eye.

You REALLY need to get to a (retina specialist) not a regular eye doctor pronto if you have not yet.
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Last edited by Ronbo1; May 10, 2012 at 05:18 PM.
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Old May 10, 2012, 11:06 AM   #10
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Quote:
I have had 6 eye surgeries in the last 6 years.
Ronbo1, glad your surgeries were successful, I hope you have good insurance.
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Old May 10, 2012, 12:53 PM   #11
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That is another thing to do. My mother went blind in one eye because of some problem that could have been fixed had she gotten to an opthalmologist earlier and my big sis wants me to see one. I have been having some sight problems and guess I will. I am 64.
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Old May 10, 2012, 08:15 PM   #12
Nnobby45
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Quote:
What kind of gun and load were you shooting? I am thinking of shooting light loads in my 12 ga. Does someone make a low recoil or light load for steel shot?
In my case, a Border Patrol 870 (Scattergun tech conversion) Brenneke Special Forces 2 3/4" Mag. loads and Brenneke HD. I was shooting from a duffel bag over the hood of my car and I wasn't positioned right for one shot that jarred me pretty good. Only fired six rounds from the "bench" and 4 standing up where recoil was easier to obsorb.

What I found interesting, is that my Opthamologist told me that it was bound to happen sooner or later without shooting, since it happens to 95% of us when we get older. I'm talking about the gel breaking loose and becoming a floater, along with light flashes.

About 5% will suffer a retinal detachment, or tear, which is caused by the gel, or"floater", pulling the retina away from where it's attached. The tear can be fixed with laser treatment. If the retina becomes detached, whatever degree of sight that is lost can not be regained.

To paraphrase what the doc told me, as best as I can remember :

A dark area with loss of sight is a symptom of retinal damage. Major emergency.

A floater and/or flashes of light indicate gel breaking loose which, in a small % of cases, can pull on the retina and tear or detach it.



He told me I didn't have to give up shooting heavy loads. As you can see, lots of us have some sort of similar experience or know someone who has.

Lastly, as you can see, there are many different opinions on this. IMO, most aforementioned problems are likely caused by age, but a hard recoiling long gun can cause the gel to break loose sooner than it would have, with the inherent risk that the retina can be damaged in the process that likely would have occured anyway.

What confuses the issue, is that some doctors have advised patients not to keep shooting heavy loads.

Last edited by Nnobby45; May 10, 2012 at 08:26 PM.
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Old May 11, 2012, 07:12 AM   #13
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Quote: If the retina becomes detached, whatever degree of sight that is lost can not be regained.

You may not have a retina surgeon specialist near you but in my case the retina was detached totally in half of my right eye with a black curtain only visable. Happened on a Sunday evening and the retina surgeon on Monday morning inserted the gas bubble in my eye after removing some fluid from the eye. The bubble along with some other things he did at the time restored my vision to 20/20.

My right eye is my shooting eye and am going prairie dog shooting in South Dakota next week, am fortunate to be able to see them just fine through a riflescope.
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Old May 11, 2012, 04:31 PM   #14
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Slugs will do it.
The very same thing happened to me.
The light flashes and big floaters, right after shooting lots of slugs one afternoon.
The doc said it was, indeed, the beginnings of retinal detachment.
In addition to not shooting anything that had a lot of recoil, he also warned about flying.
If a pressurized cabin suddenly lost pressure, the results could be very nasty to the eyes.
Ditto for scuba diving.
Fortunately, a supplement from the health food store has greatly helped.
It's Eye Vision by Jarrow.
Everything is much better, much less flashes and floaters and better night vision.
Hope yours improves, too.
And no, no more slug shooting.
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Old May 17, 2012, 09:34 AM   #15
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Sounds like someone needs to develop a right angled/flipover scope that allows us to keep the cheek off the stock and see the front sight. Power would be no more than the human eye and still allow us to see the field beyond.....just as we do when we have the cheek on the stock and sight down range. Any inventors on the board??
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Old May 17, 2012, 09:46 AM   #16
g.willikers
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Three gun competitors have been using a small dot sight, mounted on the side of the receiver of their rifles, for a long time.
To use it, they pivot the gun away from their head, to sight through it.
It's not for dealing so much with recoil but as a second sight for close targets, complimenting a scope.
It must work.
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Old May 17, 2012, 10:28 AM   #17
jimwill48
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I've had bad floaters since I was in my teens. They come and they go. Doc said it was just something I was prone to. Retina's always looked fine. A hard sneeze can cause floaters. I to was worried about recoil. I was shooting a lot of heavy caliber rifle, I would shoot 2 or 3 boxs of heavy .458 win mags at a sitting as an example (by the way the worst recoiling rifle I ever owned was .444 Marlin) and stopped for several years but the floaters kept showing up and disappointing. Went to Doc and he told me that the recoil might help cause some floaters but was not hurting my retina's. That was 35 years ago. Went back to shooting what I wanted and just live with the floaters...
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Old May 26, 2012, 12:00 AM   #18
Nnobby45
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I asked another Opthamologist if I need to give up shooting heavy recoiling guns, and he said: "HELL no, don't stop shooting. Don't worry about your eyes, enjoy yourself ".

Shot some more slugs yesterday, about 20 rds. with no issues.

I point out that this was after two retina exams to make sure that there was no retina detachment which can occur when a floater pulls away from the retina. This also cause light flashes in your peripheral vision.

Make sure you get that checked out, but, as stated, it's something that happens to us with age whether we shoot or not. In 5% of incidents, the floater pulls on the retina and tears or detaches it. This is serious, and that's why you need to make sure the retina is ok.

And yes, the shooting probably did jar it loose. Once it's all the way free, you still have the floater, but there's no more pulling on the retina.

Last edited by Nnobby45; May 26, 2012 at 12:14 AM.
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Old May 28, 2012, 06:05 PM   #19
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Quote:
Slugs will do it.
The very same thing happened to me.
The light flashes and big floaters, right after shooting lots of slugs one afternoon.
The doc said it was, indeed, the beginnings of retinal detachment.
In addition to not shooting anything that had a lot of recoil, he also warned about flying.
If a pressurized cabin suddenly lost pressure, the results could be very nasty to the eyes.
Ditto for scuba diving.
Fortunately, a supplement from the health food store has greatly helped.
It's Eye Vision by Jarrow.
Everything is much better, much less flashes and floaters and better night vision.

Hope yours improves, too.
And no, no more slug shooting.
I'm an ophthalmologist and see patients with these complaints every day. New floaters, which are sometimes associated with flashes are a symptom of vitreous detachment. Sometimes this can lead to a retinal detachment. If you really had "the beginning of a retinal detachment" (meaning at least an actual tear in the retina) you would have required either a laser procedure or surgery. The symptoms of flashes/floaters are associated with vitreous degeneration, which is an age related degeneration of the collagen containing, jelly-like fluid that fills the posterior portion of the eye (behind the iris/pupil and lens). As the vitreous degenerates slowly over decades it no longer conforms as well to the shape of the eye and eventually separates (or detaches) from the nerve, retina and blood vessels - often suddenly. 95% or so of the time this happens and only causes floaters which improve (though usually don't "go away" completely). A relatively small percentage of the time this can lead to a tear in the retina, which can then lead to a retinal detachment. It can occasionally tear a blood vessel and lead to a hemorrhage within the vitreous. When someone has a vitreous detachment and the retina is not damaged, the flashes (if present at all) fade away with time (over minutes to months) and the floaters typically become less noticeable over time. There is no vitamin treatment for this (don't waste your money). Your symptoms have improved because of time, not the vitamins.

I don't see why someone couldn't continue to shoot after a vitreous detachment. Vitreous detachment is essentially universal. I see people who come in with their "story" about how it happened and they could have been doing about anything at the time it occurred (driving, reading, watching tv, etc). Trauma can accelerate or cause the vitreous detachment and perhaps recoil from shooting could lead to it, but once the vitreous detaches (if it does indeed detach completely at the time) the process is essentially over.
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Old May 28, 2012, 10:25 PM   #20
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Greetings Doc, and welcome aboard.

Thanks for your comments.
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Old May 28, 2012, 10:38 PM   #21
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EyeDocMD, That is what I recall from the only retina detachment case I had and it was nearly thirty years ago; whether or not the detachment is caused by or is merely coincidental with any trauma occurring at the time is difficult to say with a degree of medical certainty.
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Old May 29, 2012, 08:41 PM   #22
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I will show this thread to my wife so she'll understand why I have a $700 recoil reduction system on my Browning. After-all, it is to help protect my eyesight.
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Old May 31, 2012, 06:19 PM   #23
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I opted for a gas auto for my first shotgun for this very reason. I think my days of shooting offensive kickers is over-actually, I never did enjoy them like some seem to. I now own a Mossberg 930 SPX and it is very soft shooting, even with buck loads.
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Old May 31, 2012, 06:51 PM   #24
zippy13
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I think my days of shooting offensive kickers is over-actually, I never did enjoy them like some seem to.
I'm with you S-R. It seems, at every gun club, there's going to be a small group of guys who think you can't have fun without stuffing a max+ load of Blue-Dot in their boomer guns. No thanks.

There was an old boy at my club who was a pharmacist and thought he knew everything there was to know about chemicals. He fancied that he could safely mix reloading powders for optimum performance. He was lucky to escape injury when his R-1100 violently self-disassembled with one of his special loads.
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