Vitrectomy: One Patient's Perspective

About a week after my recent cataract surgery, a very small blackout zone expanded to cover the lower half of my visual perspective over a period of about five hours.  My optometrist said this was a common symptom of retinal detachment and I should come in for an examination first thing in the morning.  The exam confirmed this and he scheduled me for a surgery by Dr. Wong three hours later. 

Having had ten surgeries in the last nine years, including a kidney transplant and open heart valve surgery, I am a more “experienced” patient than I would like to be.  My preparations for an upcoming surgery normally involve identifying and evaluating any alternatives that might be relevant, through consultations with physicians and reviews of related information sources, before committing to a specific approach. This is especially true for procedures that involve high degrees of risk to vital functions, such as retinal detachment surgery. 

To me, the key patient input to medical procedures is the series of decisions that determines by whom, where and when the procedure will be performed, as well as the selection of any relevant alternatives.  After that, the process is in the hands of the medical team and I am just a “spectator” – hopefully without too much awareness of course.

In the case of my vitrectomy, I was immediately convinced that the urgency of having the procedure performed quickly in order to reduce the risk of losing sight superseded my “normal” preparation process.  I first met Dr. Wong in pre-op.  In reviewing the procedure, he indicated that, in his view, the decision as to whether to have the procedure was a “no brainer” in that it was the only reasonable chance of avoiding blindness in the eye.  The logic was compelling and thus reassuring. 

Fortunately, Dr. Wong chose and implemented a painless procedure.  He has indicated that it is too early to declare “victory” in that it will take some time to determine the level of vision I will recover in the eye, but after two post-op check-ups, the progress looks good.  Therefore, at this stage, it appears that I have received an opportunity for recovery from the detached retina, which I consider to be a successful result of the procedure.  My focus now is on doing what I can to facilitate the return of the maximum possible level of vision.


D. Lee


Dr. Wong, Thanks!

Dr. Wong,
Just a quick note to thank you how grateful I am for the awesome care you gave me when you fixed my detached retina.  All I know when we met was that I was very concerned (read scared) about losing some of my peripheral vision in my left eye.  I’ve seen too many people lose their zest for life when one of their senses is taken away and I did not want that.
But from the second we met you made me feel right at ease and the manner in which you conveyed your diagnosis so that a second grader can understand meant a lot.  It was not at all surprising that the surgery went without a hitch and I literally did not experience any pain in my eye related to surgery.  The only pain I felt was in my back and shoulders from you making me face down for 5 days!  Boy, that was fun! 
Sincerely, though, thanks for making what potentially was a scary experience into one that was pleasantly bearable.  Thanks for fixing my eye and restoring my vision. You’re awesome!
Marni deLeon
Bethesda, MD



My Recent Surgery

Two weeks ago I learned through a routine eye exam that I had some issue with my right retina.  At that time I was referred to Dr. Wong and his associates.   During the first consultation with him comfort zone was immediate.  I was educated regarding a “wrinkle” of the right retina and my options.   However, he felt, as did I, that the matter should be resolved as soon as possible.  Yesterday Dr. Wong performed the surgery.  Throughout the consulting period as well as yesterday he exemplified what a doctor should strive to be.  He, along with the INOVA Surgery Center, made the entire situation almost enjoyable.  Dr. Wong is a total professional yet he has the ability to extend himself on a personal level of compassion, calmness, great humor and kindness.  Today, less than 24 hours after surgery, I was delighted to tell Dr. Wong that I had already experienced an improvement in my eyesight.  Amazing…………and I thank him profusely.

L. Chartier

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