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Can shooting machine guns cause a retinal detachment?


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#1 maxfaxdude

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Posted 31 July 2020 - 09:40 PM

3 1/2 weeks ago I saw my optometrist for a routine eye exam to get new glasses.   All was well until he did a retina screening test which revealed a possible retinal detachment in the right eye.  I saw an retinologist several days later (then a 2nd retinologist the same day for a second opinion) and both confirmed the significant right eye retinal detachment.  Laser surgery was performed to halt the progression of the detachment; however, the inferior part of my right eye visual field had to be sacrificed in the process.   At my follow-up appointment 3 days ago, the retinologist told me that the laser repair was holding up well and that no further treatment is necessary for now.   I asked him if shooting machineguns and other shoulder-fired firearms which I have done frequently (sometimes weekly) for many years could have caused such a detachment.  He said no, that would be very unlikely unless I was struck hard and directly in the eye by the buttstock or scope during recoil.  Physically, I'm 48, in good health with no major medical problems and I am normal weight, exercise daily and do not smoke or drink heavily.  I also have no risk factors such as family members with retinal detachments or history of head trauma.   I'm wondering if anyone here has encountered or heard of such a scenario? 


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#2 Got Uzi

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 05:08 AM

There are several accounts of guys shooting HK21s (not the E type) that have had a retina detach. It is possible from love periods of heavy recoil weapons.
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#3 pstidan

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 06:32 AM

There are several accounts of guys shooting HK21s (not the E type) that have had a retina detach. It is possible from love periods of heavy recoil weapons.

That was me.  My surgery was done at Austin Retina by Dr. Jose Martinez -> https://www.austinre...in-martinez-m-d

I was explicitly told that the rapid shaking of my head backward and forward caused the detachment.  I was warned to not shoot any shoulder fired, heavy recoil, weapons ever again.  I was also told that nearsighted people are especially susceptible to this type of retinal detachment.  Nine months after retina surgery I developed a cataract and again needed surgery to replace the lens.  My cataract surgery was performed at Eye Physicians of Austin by Dr. Karl Randy Pierce -> https://www.eyephysi...randy-pierce-md  Dr. Pierce told me that a cataract will always develop within a year of retina surgery.

 

I now fire my  HK21 on an MG3 ground mount using a custom adapter to mount the weapon.


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#4 johnsonlmg41

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 06:56 AM

Yep sold off my 21 and got a 21e    E is for "eye" safe. 

Shooting the 21 would literally make my eyes water.  That, or I subconsciously knew how much the broken parts were costing and was already crying about it before I finished a belt?   I don't necessarily think it's the recoil as much as the cyclic rate/ frequency that makes that happen, because it is not a factor with an MG42 or any other guns that I own.   The 21e is significantly slower.


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#5 maxfaxdude

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 09:53 AM

I have both a MM21 and MM23.  While I have not fired them extensively, I have shot some 20 and 30 rounds bursts in the past.  Looks like I will be shooting the MM21 on a ground mount only.  The scary thing is how the detachment "snuck up" on me without me noticing.  So if anyone sees very brief (much less than a second)  flashes of light in their visual fields for no apparent reason, don't just blow it off like I did -- go see an eye specialist immediately! I waited 9 months, and thought that because I was relatively young and healthy, that it couldn't have happened to me.  And by the way I'm an MD and a surgeon.    


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#6 Black River Militaria CII

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 10:07 AM

Have two longtime acquaintances who shot Lahti's frequently and both suffered retinal detachment. Now they take the guns to shoots and let others shoot them......


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#7 StrangeRanger

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 10:30 AM

FWIW  I had been warned that it's not the fairly light recoil but rather the massive backwash from the muzzle brake on my Barrett can cause a retinal detachment.  I built a blast shield to make it much more pleasant to shoot and to reduce the probability of a problem.


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#8 emmagee1917

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 02:41 PM

Is this with a M82A1 or a bolt model ? When I shoot my M82A1 I get neither strong recoil nor blast . I've been told their bolt models can kick less than their semis but can be face blasters .

Chris 


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#9 APEXgunparts

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 03:08 PM

I read somewhere that the British military limits the amount of firing of the Carl Gustav rocket launcher due to the potential for brain injury due to the shock wave from the round.
I suspect the shock wave from firing large caliber weapons has a cumulative effect.
I know the US Army trains the Soldiers that shoot the .50 BMG sniper rifles to keep their mouth open when firing (M82 and M107)
If you don't you will get a headache (second hand info from Soldiers I talk to).

Then there is my Grandmother on my Mother's side of the family.
Woke up one morning and was blind in one eye, Dr. said her retina had detached.
She did survive a nearby bomb blast from the Luftwaffe during WW2, that might have started something.

Richard
 

Edited by APEXgunparts, 01 August 2020 - 03:09 PM.

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#10 StrangeRanger

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 03:21 PM

Is this with a M82A1 or a bolt model ? When I shoot my M82A1 I get neither strong recoil nor blast . I've been told their bolt models can kick less than their semis but can be face blasters .

Chris 


M99.  Recoil is like a .243.  Blast is something else.

The semi autos are recoil operated so Barrett cannot put the big muzzle brake on them or they won't cycle.  The internal mechanism dissipates a whole lot of the recoil energy so the net effect is recoil similar to the 99 but the blast isn't generated.  I guess you get something extra for the extra three grand


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#11 pstidan

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 04:57 PM

...  So if anyone sees very brief (much less than a second)  flashes of light in their visual fields for no apparent reason, don't just blow it off like I did -- go see an eye specialist immediately! I waited 9 months, and thought that because I was relatively young and healthy, that it couldn't have happened to me.  And by the way I'm an MD and a surgeon.    

My detachment first appeared to me as a black spot in my right eye's field of view at the 1:30 position.  There was no pain whatsoever and at first I thought there was simply some dust in my eye.  The black spot never went away so I scheduled a visit with my optician within a few days.  He examined my eyes and immediately sent me across the street to Austin Retina.  When I arrived at Austin Retina, I was placed at the front of the waiting list and saw Dr. Martinez within a couple minutes.  He examined my eyes and then said "You need to be at Seton Hospital tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM sharp."  I asked him what my options were.  He then said "Well, you can be at Seton tomorrow morning for retinal re-attachment surgery or go blind in your right eye.  It's your choice.  What would you like to do?"  The next morning at 9:00 sharp I was at Seton Hospital.


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#12 maxfaxdude

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 09:37 PM

I didn't have any pain either.  Just very occasional brief flashes of white light in my lower right visual field.  The first retinologist I saw recommended laser surgery.  The second retinologist recommended that I get a vitrectomy -- 2 needles are stuck into the eyeball and the gel inside is removed and gas is then pumped into the eyeball hopefully forcing the detached retina back into place.   I chose the laser surgery because with vitrectomy surgery, you are guaranteed to get a cataract (eventually requiring a second surgery), you must remain face down continuously for 2 weeks after surgery, visual acuity decreases to 20/40 and there is a small but possible chance for catastrophic vision loss or blindness.  The laser eye surgery has none of those risks but god retinal tissue be lasered away (sacrificed) to create a band of scar tissue to halt progression of the detachment.  Both retinologists told me that I would go blind in my right eye eventually without intervention.   

 

Now that I think of it -- I have also been to the Big Sandy Shoot on several occasions and have been very close to several very large artillery pieces and tank guns being fired off -- makes me wonder if that could have been a precipitating factor...    


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#13 pstidan

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Posted 02 August 2020 - 07:57 AM

I didn't have any pain either.  Just very occasional brief flashes of white light in my lower right visual field.  The first retinologist I saw recommended laser surgery.  The second retinologist recommended that I get a vitrectomy -- 2 needles are stuck into the eyeball and the gel inside is removed and gas is then pumped into the eyeball hopefully forcing the detached retina back into place.   I chose the laser surgery because with vitrectomy surgery, you are guaranteed to get a cataract (eventually requiring a second surgery), you must remain face down continuously for 2 weeks after surgery, visual acuity decreases to 20/40 and there is a small but possible chance for catastrophic vision loss or blindness.  The laser eye surgery has none of those risks but god retinal tissue be lasered away (sacrificed) to create a band of scar tissue to halt progression of the detachment.  Both retinologists told me that I would go blind in my right eye eventually without intervention.   

 

Now that I think of it -- I have also been to the Big Sandy Shoot on several occasions and have been very close to several very large artillery pieces and tank guns being fired off -- makes me wonder if that could have been a precipitating factor...    

 

Ah yes.  Laying on my stomach with my ass in the air for a couple weeks brings back such fond memories.  The purpose of laying face down was to keep the gas in constant contact with the retina.  My understanding is that the gas is a sulphur dioxide mixture.   I was told my detachment was too severe for a laser procedure.  But, after my recuperation I needed to have the retinas in both eyes tacked down via a laser as a preventative measure.  An indication that you are susceptible to retinal detachment are eyeball floaters visible in your field of view.  If you see 'em, get your ass to a retina specialist and get checked out ASAP.


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#14 johnsonlmg41

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Posted 02 August 2020 - 08:19 AM

Like anything else some people are more susceptible to certain injuries than others.  Long term repetition of any movement has always been a bad thing whether working the same motion on an assembly line or anything else.  Repeatedly bashing the brain/ head can't be good?  I've stood at at line at the creek on the first volley and it just doesn't feel right, so I quit doing that and wait a couple minutes, for not only the pressure level to drop, but for the dust to clear.  After a few sessions with the 21 and the eyes watering I decided it was time to upgrade and/or tripod the thing because sometimes you don't need 80K of instrumentation and a 6 month study to determine some things are just not a good idea?


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#15 emmagee1917

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 12:57 PM

Is this with a M82A1 or a bolt model ? When I shoot my M82A1 I get neither strong recoil nor blast . I've been told their bolt models can kick less than their semis but can be face blasters .

Chris 


M99.  Recoil is like a .243.  Blast is something else.

The semi autos are recoil operated so Barrett cannot put the big muzzle brake on them or they won't cycle.  The internal mechanism dissipates a whole lot of the recoil energy so the net effect is recoil similar to the 99 but the blast isn't generated.  I guess you get something extra for the extra three grand

 

 

:D  :D  :D    Yep , not only 10X the number of shots , but it appears a lot more enjoyment in my shooting . Or were you referring to the time , trouble , and expense of detachment , which was not even in my reasoning for picking it ?

Chris  


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#16 emmagee1917

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 12:59 PM

Oh , and while not a problem , there is no way I could describe the recoil as .243 like .

Chris


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#17 renovate7

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Posted 09 August 2020 - 04:47 PM

Gave my dad a .41 magnum with 8" barrel as a  birthday gift. 6 months later he had a detached retina. Doctor thought the .41 was th cause.


Edited by renovate7, 09 August 2020 - 04:47 PM.

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#18 kp31

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Posted 11 August 2020 - 12:02 PM

This is very interesting and I guess I'm not suprised. Wonder what former artillery guys on here have experienced?  Glad I normally shoot subguns and non-belt fed stuff when it comes to this issue. 

 

And, wonder if wearing certain kinds of goggles like swimming goggles  would help keep pressure more stable??  It would look pretty funny!


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#19 emmagee1917

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Posted 11 August 2020 - 04:30 PM

I don't know , he looks kinda , well , errrr , ok , I don't have a word for it .  That's never happened before. Chris

https://www.bing.com...034497D9B060793


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