Retinal Detachment and Vitrectomy Surgery
Accounts of Personal Experiences
Last week I had retinal surgery.
Intraocular repair with vitrectomy (called by the anaesthetist ‘ret-tat’). They used intraocular gas – actually SF6 gas (what’s that?) – to tamponade the detachment. SF6 is one of two gasses used at Auckland Public Hospital and take 2 weeks to be absorbed. It was an emergency procedure – from diagnosis to operation about 30 hours. Here’s a short description of the op and some thoughts of mine on two points, my early signs and my small post-op scare.
The operation was done at Auckland Public Hospital funded by the Welfare system. In the New Zealand public system, emergency surgery such as this takes priority over most all other surgery and is worked on by the eye surgeon allocated by the public hospital roster system. I think… Maybe there is some ability to ask for a particular person, as the surgeon my opthalmologist asked for was one of two who are considered top in this field in Auckland. Archie McGeorge. He performs surgery in private hospitals as well as in public hospitals. In private care the operation would either be covered by imsurance or paid for by me. In public care I have the same operation for free, just the meals are way worse.
The operation was done under a local anaethetic. Sub-tenon’s block with 1% Ropivacaine. Anesthetist: Ann Wills.
1. EARLY SIGNS. My detat showed itself in this way. First a small semi-transparent grey area in the corner of my eye, then a larger grey area, then the grey-ness crept up like a part-disc shape to cover over half my vision. I did a picture on my computer using image manipulation to illustrate this to my opthalmologist. He loved it! Almost wanted to frame it!
In the 24hrs prior to surgery the semi-transparent grey patch had become more and more black and opaque. This concerned me somewhat as it is not quite the ‘curtain or wall of blackness coming in from an edge’ that I’d heard was typical of the early stages of retinal detatchment. Mine seemed transparent.
2. POST-OP. What shocked me most after surgery was to see that the area that was black before the operation (described above) was STILL THERE! I noticed this in the wee small hours after surgery and I almost panicked, I thought the op was unsuccessful!
I was informed the blackness would change as the retina recovers. Sure enough in the days to follow this blackness changed to dark grey, light grey, and eventually disappeared (so far) almost entirely. Like a reversal of the signs, in fact.
While they prepared me for most other aspects of the operation and after-effects, they did not mention this and it had quite an effect on me in the small hours of the morning following surgery, and it was several days before the retina recovered.
Just some thoughts to help prepare others. Well I hope they do.
I was diagnosed with dry AMD by an ophthalmologist here in Canada. I tried stem cell treatment, which did not improve my vision. I tried a second opinion from another ophthalmologist who referred me to a retina specialist. After a thorough examination, I was advised to have vitreous surgery that, according to my ophthalmologist, was to remove a scar on my retina causing my vision to get worse. After my vitrectomy, I have noticed a significant improvement in my operated eye. The ophthalmologist didn’t mention that I have dry AMD, and I was not able to ask. My impression is that not all doctors have the same knowledge and experience. It would be best to always seek a second opinion.