One Persons Experience
This is from an e-mail from a visitor to
this site and is included with his permission.
It is unedited except to delete his name.
November 5, 1999
I am a thirty-eight year old male and have been near-sighted since I
was seven. I've always been relatively active, traveling around the
world, playing tennis and hockey, and yes, I've cracked my head more
than once on the ice or asphalt (even wearing a helmet), however my
retinal detachment was not the result of a blow to the head.
I had been working hard and was tired and thought I was coming down
with a cold. The vision in my right eye was wavy and I thought that
the eye was swollen and infected which is something that had happened
before. That night when I went to bed I saw flashes of light in my
eye and immediately next morning went to see the Ophthalmologist who
promptly told me I had a retinal detachment and led me to their
retinal specialist. After a quick and thorough examination, he
agreed, explained that the eye had a large tear at the top of the
retina and that liquid had seeped behind the retina and forced it
away from the choroid. He told me how serious this condition was
and offered some options.
The first was a local anesthetic to the eye and an injection of a gas
bubble to push the fluid out from behind the retina and seal the tear
and if that succeeded, we would later laser the tear. The second
option was major surgery to laser the tear and "freeze" the retina.
The first was much less intrusive and had a relatively good chance at
success, so we opted for it. The procedure was done in his office
and was painless. However, after a day or two, it became evident
that it was not progressing as hoped and that major surgery had to be
The operation was performed that night and went very well, though the
vitreous and the lens began to cloud up during the operation and had
to be removed. The doctor, who is extremely meticulous and caring,
saw me each day for the next few days. Since the tear was at the top
of the eye, I had to keep my head up at all times (even while
sleeping) to allow the gas bubble to keep the tear shut and the
retina flat. But it seemed in my case, that any minor complication
which could occur did. There was a dangerous buildup in pressure in
the eye, which the doctor tried to alleviate one day, and again the
next day, by removing some gas from the eye. This was also done in
his office. And this procedure also failed. It was decided that
this volatile combination of air/gas had to be removed and replaced
strictly by gas. So, a local anesthetic was done in their operating
room and an exchange was made. Finally, this seemed to work quite
It took about ten days of keeping my head up to make sure the tear
and "freeze" had taken (prior to that, it is like wet glue) and five
weeks for the gas bubble to dissipate in my eye. I went to see the
doctor for the by now weekly visit and both of us were happy with the
progress and began to talk about the lens implant to replace the one
removed during the operation, but it was decided to wait another six
weeks until the eye was fully healed before attempting that
I must point out that during all these trials and tribulations, the
doctor had explained all the possible pitfalls that could occur. One
that he had mentioned was that during the healing process, scar
tissue in the form of a membrane can grow over the retina and cause
some potential problems. Remember the every minor problem that could
The very next night, I was going to bed and suddenly there was
cloudiness in my right eye which devastated me. My doctor was more
than surprised to see me in his office the very next morning and even
more surprised and disappointed to report that there were two tears
at the bottom of the eye and that the retina was once again detached
at the bottom this time.
That night, we were back in the hospital where he conducted another
major surgery to laser the tears and freeze another ring around the
retina. This operation also went very well, though I came out of the
anesthetic with a terrific head-splitting headache. I have to point
out here that during both operations, the anesthetic had kept me from
leaving the hospital (I was tremendously groggy) and I was forced to
spend the night there. It also took me three to four days to recover
from the operation. I suspect that the anesthetic was the major
cause of this. It was also discovered that I had an arrhythmia, an
abnormal sinus wave that concerned the anesthesiologist and the
doctor and I was held over for cardiac tests which resulted in it
being a "normal" condition for me.
The doctor kept seeing me everyday and the progress was good, until
during the second week when head-splitting headaches attacked me and
had me bed-ridden. The aches came from the right side and I knew
were related to the eye. When we went to see the doctor, the
pressure once again had ballooned to 46. This time however, the
pressure was not as dangerous to the Iris or optic nerve as it had
been the first time and I was given drops to bring the pressure down.
That night, the pressure and the headaches subsided and I continued
my path to recovery.
A week later as I went to bed, the left quadrant in my right eye was
cloudy and so once again, I visited my doctor and once again, he
informed me that I had another tear, a hole actually, this time in
the back of the eye dangerously close to the optic nerve. He would
laser, but could not freeze the retina.
As I was rolled into the operating room, the vision had deteriorated
so badly that there was only a tiny ring I could see out of. At this
point, I will be honest, I thought that I had lost the vision in my
eye and didn't have much hope that I would ever see again in that eye.
So once again we went to the hospital and surgery. This time
however, I woke up a few hours later, was informed that all went well
and I felt very good, alert and not groggy in the least. I was ready
to go home and did. It was the first time the anesthetic did not
affect me. They apparently used a different "brew" based on the
It has been three and a half weeks since then, and so far I'm
recovering well, and hopefully will not have any more detachments.
Of course, I'm not out of the woods yet, and I will also need to get
a lens implant when the eye is finally completely healed. I have
been trying to stay realistic however, and though I am encouraged by
the fact that the vision will be good, though never what it was, I'll
be happy if I can retain vision.
As a side note, I also got two second opinions which agreed with what
my doctor had done and were in fact quite impressed that the eye was
doing so well.
It's amazing how we take so much for granted.
Keep up the good work