University of Iowa Ophthalmology Always a Top Contender

Well, I suppose I should tell you why you’re seeing these oldie blog posts from a different era in my career. It’s because I didn’t know whether I’d even be able to see well enough to write after my retinal detachment surgery, which was this past Friday. So, I scheduled a few posts from the past just in case.

The University of Iowa Ophthalmology Department is always highly ranked in the country according to U.S. News & World Report. It was seventh in 2021-2022.

I found out 3 weeks ago that I’ve been walking around with a detached right retina for years probably. One of the biggest risks for developing the condition is being over 50 years old. Hey, do you want to look like me by the time your fifty—ish?

I never could have been a contender

You know, what Sena and I think of whenever we hear about retinal detachment is Sugar Ray Leonard and his retinal tear in 1982 when he was at the top of his career. He almost didn’t have the surgery right away until a doctor told him might go blind if he chose to put it off. I think we pretty much stopped watching boxing because of how dangerous it is.

Don’t slap me on the head, I just had retinal detachment surgery!

Leonard’s description of his retinal detachment is classic: “The only thing I felt, I’d get hit in the eye and it swells, then all of a sudden it felt like a shade. It felt like a little shade opens in your eye — you don’t completely see the full picture. It looked like my eye was swollen, well… it felt like my eye was swollen because my vision at that time was getting worse because that curtain was coming down….

“I didn’t even know what (the doctor) was talking about. He said, ‘You have a detached retina.’ I said, ‘OK’. We thought we could come after the fight. Seriously,” said Leonard, who was told by the world renown surgeon Ronald G. Michels that holding off this surgery for another week could lead to blindness.”

He had the surgery right away.

I had a crack team of surgeons and the nursing and other staff were the best. I’m not going to bore you with a blow-by-blow account of the procedure. It did involve sharp objects. I got by with minimal sedation and pain control was good. They did a procedure called a scleral buckle (which is made of silicone) in which they tie this belt around the eye, cinch it tight until it pops like a grape, and then charge you $10 million. I think it’s covered by insurance, but check with your carrier just to make sure.

One thing that does tend to happen when I get sedation is an uptick in my baseline absent-mindedness. Shortly after we got home after the procedure, I couldn’t find my house keys or my car keys (don’t worry, I wasn’t driving). I even called the hospital to check if I’d left them there. Later, I happened to open the cupboard where I usually place them—and there they were. I had put them away and immediately forgot that I did it.

I’m now counting on Sena to give me the mandatory eye drops, 17 drops per hour from 6 nine-quart bottles until death. Don’t bother to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom in any regular way—you’ll be too busy administering eye drops. Are we clear on that?

The swelling is already going down. I can carry around my eye in a bushel basket now instead of a wagon. Sena can barely look at it without cringing. But if I were to try to give myself the drops, they’d be dribbling down my shirt.

If you don’t get your eyes examined after you see what looks like a curtain coming down over your eye or see flashes of light—you should get your head examined. Psychiatrists will likely charge you only $10 million.

Picture credit Wikimedia: Not copyrighted material.

Author: James Amos

I'm a retired consult-liaison psychiatrist. I navigated the path in a phased retirement program through the hospital where I was employed. I was fully retired as of June 30, 2020. This blog chronicles my journey.

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