Your visual health is important 24/7: not just when you get up in the morning or go to bed at night. It’s important to keep an eye on your visual health all the time, because even the biggest problems can be avoided with early detection and treatment. Here’s a true personal story from Visual Health’s Dr. Hearing about the importance of taking care of your eyes right away!

This past Wednesday, my father called me around 7am.  I was just arriving at Visual Health getting ready for another busy day of patient care.  I was a bit concerned, as we normally talk every Friday morning. The first thing my Dad said was: “I can’t see out of my right eye.”  Both of my parents are in their late 70s and they live on a small farm in Southern Georgia.  They have both enjoyed excellent vision for the last several years without glasses (thanks to custom refractive cataract surgery with multifocal intraocular lenses by Dr. Coffman of Visual Health). So, I immediately asked my dad if he had seen any flashing lights or floaters in that eye.  He replied, “Yes, two to three weeks before, I saw flashing lights for three to four days, but I have always seen floaters in my right eye.”

A bit miffed at this point, I wanted to say: “Why didn’t you call me right away two weeks ago!”  I also had realized that I had spoken to him at least three times in that period, but my Dad is very stubborn and was in denial.  Rather than getting upset, I immediately countered, “You’ve to go see an eye doctor right away this morning.”  I went back to work and waited.  Shortly after 11am, my cellphone rings and I recognized the south Georgia area code.  The caller said, “Hi, I am the eye doctor that saw your father.  It appears that he has a retinal detachment.” This confirmed my fears.  I asked the doctor some questions about the severity of the detachment.  He said in his southern draw, “I can’t be sure because my view is partially blocked, but I think it is inferior.”  That was not the news that I wanted to hear, but he calmly said, “I have made arrangements for him to see the retina specialist in Tallahassee as soon as he can get there.”  Great, now all I can do is sit and wait again.

As it neared 6 p.m., I got another call from a Tallahassee area code. It was the retina specialist, confirming that my Dad had a superior retinal detachment, but he was unable to find the hole or tear because the view was still blocked. His plan was to do a vitrectomy (a procedure to remove the jelly in the back of the eye and replace it with an inert fluid). Then using the Endolaser, (laser used inside the eye), he would seal around the hole and put a gas bubble in to hold the retina in place.  He informed me he could do this first thing on Friday morning.

The next day, Thursday, my father called and said that he could now see out of his right eye, at least well enough to drive a car.  This was good news, because it meant that the macula was still attached and this improved his chances of having good vision after surgery.  At my Friday morning men’s Bible study, we prayed for my Dad, the surgeon and his team. Friday night, I heard the news that I wanted to hear from the retinal surgeon: “The surgery went well. I found a small hole at 11 o’clock in location and was able to seal it with the Endolaser. I then placed the air bubble in the eye and sent your Dad home.”  According to the laws of gravity the air bubble would move up and hold the retina in place. Thanks to modern medicine, and a caring medical team, the chances were very good that my Dad will regain his vision in his right eye.

You are likely pondering, what is the moral of this story and why am I writing this in our blog.  Well, it is very simple.  If you notice anything unusual with your vision (like flashing lights and floaters), call us immediately. At Visual Health, we are always available to see your emergency problems and always have a doctor on-call.

All of this may have been preventable, had this been caught early, the possibility existed that my dad would have only needed laser treatment that could have been performed in the office. The additional 2-3 week delay after his symptoms occurred likely allowed time for fluid to get behind the retina and cause the detachment.

“Now for the rest of the story…” My dad’s surgery and recovery went great thanks to another retinal specialist. The retina was completely attached; however the intraocular lens had become de-centered by the gas bubble. The doctor sent my dad back to Visual Health for a lens repositioning surgery. Prior to my dad’s arrival in South Florida, he was playing with his dog “BOZO” when the dog hit him hard in the face. All of a sudden my dad could see, Bozo had knocked the lens back in position! Subsequent examination at Visual Health confirmed near perfect positioning of the lens. It’s a miracle! We thank God for the great doctors and for Bozo.

Richard Scott Hearing, O.D., F.A.A.O