Vitreoretinal Surgery Update

I still surprise myself when I remember how I almost lost my vision twice last year. Then I feel the contact lens in my left eye and remember everything.

A story of two surgeries

To recap, coming home from vacation in March last year, the vision in my left eye looked like dizziness that you get after standing up too quickly. With nothing cleared up after a full day, my wife finally talked me into heading to the ER. Of course, I spent the evening getting every test under the sun, checking for blood clots and strokes. They released me that night to see an optometrist the next day.

The optometrist informed me my retina had torn. Without quick surgery, vision loss threatened me.

After a wonderfully dramatic two days, I finally got in to see the retinal surgeon, and he repaired my eyeball.

I recovered from the first surgery with 30 days of headaches and fishbowl vision in my left eye.

The second surgery

Sadly, my retina came loose a second time. Thirty days after my first surgery, I noticed a blurry vision and went in to get it checked out. It turns out the very thing the doctor said might happen did happen. The retina came off the wall of my eyeball a second time.

The solution for this problem lay in a scleral buckle eye surgery. In short, they went in and used lasers to reattach my retina. And then they took a silicon band and wove it through the muscles on the outside of my eyeball to kind of hold everything in place.

As the doctor said, the second surgery was a beast. It took five hours to complete, and you could barely recognize my left eyeball when they got done — lots of gross pictures.

A different recovery

Recovering from the second surgery differed from the first in several ways. First of all, my eye pressure in my left eye fell from around 19 to 12. The reduction in eye-pressure meant no more headaches. Secondly, I had no vision for about six weeks after the surgery. This vision loss happened because they filled my eye with a much larger gas bubble.

Over about six weeks to three months, the gas bubble slowly dissipated. My vision returned slowly.

Trusting your eyes

Getting your brain to trust your eyeball ironically is one of the harder recovery aspects. Over the last year, my mind got so used to vision in my left eye, not working that I stopped expecting clarity in the eye.

The “final” result

Finally, about six months after my second surgery, my doctor told me my vision had stabilized. Sadly, my left eye never got to 20/20. To give you perspective, eight years ago, I paid for laser surgery to fix my eyesight. It’s hard to lose it so quickly like this. Thankfully, the solution was getting a single contact lens in that left eye.

On a side note, I did ask whether I could have my vision fixed a second time by laser. The retinal surgeon cautioned me against it. He said it wouldn’t be a good idea to do any more messing around with that eyeball. Besides, I will very likely need cataract surgery in the future.

Scarring

I do have some retinal scarring from the surgery. This means a little bit of blurriness in the bottom left-hand side of my eyeball.

Conclusion
I feel like one of the lucky ones. In the past year, I’ve spoken with quite a few people who have undergone my surgeries. The vision I have today represents the better end of the spectrum of possibilities. In short, I can still see, and I thank God for that.

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