17 May 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convinced that the urgency of having the procedure performed quickly in order to reduce the risk of losing sight superseded my “normal” preparation process.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.