…and Often the Patient Wins

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September 20, 2010
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…and Often the Patient Wins

More often than not, retinal surgery proves beneficial for the patient. Most of the time, we are successful at restoring and maintaining functional vision.

Retinal Surgery Saves Vision

JF Sees Alaska

Many times our medical treatments and eye surgery work well and the patient “wins.”  Last post I wrote “Sometimes the Disease Wins” where I shared the disappointment and frustration of unexpected surgical results, highlighting the fact that surgical results are not guaranteed.

A patient of mine, JF, just returned from Alaska (see pic).  He and his wife spent 8 days touring by land and sea.  He just sent me a collection of his photos of his trip.

JF and I have known each other for about 15 years or so.  I first met him when I started working in Baltimore…for his first retinal detachment.  He now sees me in Fairfax, VA where I’ve been in practice for about 7 years.

Multiple Retinal Detachments

JF has had 8 retinal detachments over the past 13.5 years between both of his eyes!  Despite the multiple retinal detachments in each eye and multiple surgeries, he still enjoys 20/20 vision in each eye!  Obviously, he sees well enough to be able to share the beauty of Alaska with his family.

Often, the patient does win.

Multiple Retinal Operations

JF has had undergone every procedure known to fix a retinal detachment.  He has had;

In addition, he has had cataract surgery to both eyes, too.

What Does This Mean?  This means that we do have many tools in our arsenal to repair retinal detachments.  This means, more often than not, we “win” over the disease.  While not all results are as miraculous as JF’s, they are not uncommon.

This also means we don’t stop trying because more times than not, the patient does win.

The other message is the value of patient education.  Over the years, despite the odds of recurrent retinal detachment, JF never ignored the clear signs and symptoms of a developing problem.  In many ways, he was more instrumental in saving his sight than me.  He learned what to worry about.

The last tribute to JF is that he never gave up hope…and in my opinion, this is the key to the patient “winning.”

Comments
  • Michael Dayton October 14, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    JF’s story makes me feel better going in for second surgery on my left eye (after four on my right). Thanks you for the inspiration!!

    Michael

  • Helen October 24, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Dr. Wong,

    I just came across your blog and I’ve been freaking out since last night. All of a sudden I see these floaters in my line of vision in my right eye only. I usually see little ones, but this one is like a jelly. When I last saw my eye doctor, she said she noticed something and didn’t really get into detail, but I read her report and it said if I wanted to read more about ‘retinal detachment’ I could go under the Kaiser website. Well, now I don’t know if I should be worried I’m going to be blind if I don’t see her. I no longer have health coverage since I lost my job in July and not working full-time. Should I call her my eye doctor and tell her what’s going on? My eye sight is pretty bad, 11.00- and I wear contacts all the time.

    Thanks.

    Helen

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D. October 25, 2010 at 7:29 am

      Helen,

      Without a doubt, please see your eye doctor. New onset of floaters should always be checked to look for a retinal tear, especially in very near-sighted people.

      We will anxiously be awaiting to hear back from you.

      Randy

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