Expert Retina Care Puts Truck Driver Back on the Road After Retinal Detachment
As a truck driver, Thomas Long relies on good eyesight to stay on the road and stay safe. In fact, having healthy vision in both eyes is required to earn a commercial driver’s license, and Thomas has always passed the required vision test to stay behind the wheel.
So, when he woke up one morning and noticed a dark spot in the bottom of his vision, he didn’t think much of it and went about his day. Soon, the dark spot grew larger until Thomas could only see a sliver of light from the top of his left eye.
After a visit to a nearby emergency room, Thomas learned he was likely suffering a retinal detachment, and feared he may lose vision in his left eye permanently, changing his life, and taking away his livelihood. “It was a very emotional experience losing the vision in my eye,” Thomas said. “I was devastated, thinking that I would be blind in one eye for the rest of my life, and that I wouldn’t be able to work or take care of my family.”
Luckily for Thomas there was a retina specialist nearby in his small suburb of Baltimore. His wife called, and he was quickly seen by ASRS member retina specialist Sid Schechet, MD, who was able to reassure Thomas from the moment he walked into the exam room saying that he would fix his retinal detachment and restore his vision.
After the examination, Dr. Schechet confirmed that Thomas had a retinal detachment, in which the retina separates from the back wall of the eye, like wallpaper peeling off of a wall, resulting in vision loss. He shared the treatment options, and together as a team they decided to repair the detachment right then and there with an in-office procedure called a pneumatic retinopexy. This complex and delicate procedure entails injecting a small gas bubble into the eye where it expands to cover the retinal tears and pushes the detached retina back into place onto the inner wall of the eye. In addition to the pneumatic retinopexy, Dr. Schechet used a laser to seal the tears in the retina to help prevent future detachments.
“Within 20 minutes of the procedure I started to regain some of my vision, I was blown away,” Thomas said. “I felt like everything was taken away, and then given right back to me. Dr. Schechet’s expertise and skill had saved my sight.”
Since the procedure, Thomas is back to work and doing the things he loves including spending time with family and completing crossword puzzles. He’s told his siblings and friends to have regular dilated retina exams and wants everyone to know more about retinal detachments and retina specialists, so they can get the care they need immediately if they ever experience one.
“I didn’t know there were retina specialists until I needed one. Now I’m committed to getting my eyes checked as often as I should and letting others know they should do the same,” Thomas said. “Eye care is a big priority for me now and everyone should know that if they experience a retinal detachment there’s hope as long as you act quickly and seek out a retina specialist.”