Cataract surgery is one of the most common and safe surgeries in North America with one and a half million people undergoing this procedure every year. And like millions of other Canadians, Dr. Roger Stronell underwent a successful surgery for a cataract on his left eye in 2012.
However, six weeks following the surgery he began experiencing unusual symptoms in his left eye. Roger started seeing spots and struggled with his overall vision. This was particularly concerning for Roger, as he was a radiologist and eyesight has a critical role in his job. Losing any vision was detrimental to his ability to properly review patients’ x-rays and scans.
He went to an optometrist who immediately recognized that something was very wrong. Optometrists are trained to be able to spot issues and refer patients to an ophthalmologist (a medical and surgical doctor who specializes in the eye) who can then make a diagnosis and perform the procedure needed to treat the issue. Cancelling a trip to his cottage, Roger was immediately referred to an ophthalmologist who then referred him to Dr. Jordan Cheskes, an ophthalmologist who specializes in retinal surgery — the part of Roger’s eye that was affected.
Dr. Cheskes was finally able to confirm a diagnosis — Roger’s retina had almost completely detached, even at the macula (the point at which the optic nerve enters the eye). He was one of very rare group of patients (1%) whose retina detaches as a complication of cataract surgery. He was now at risk of losing sight in this eye, and since he had also had cataract surgery in his other eye, there was a 50% chance of the right retina detaching later. Even worse, eight hours after experiencing his first symptoms, Roger had gone completely blind in his left eye.
Moving swiftly, Dr. Cheskes performed an emergency retinal surgery procedure on Roger’s eye. During the operation the surgeon re-attached his retina so that it lay exactly where it did before it was detached.
Just as Roger finished healing, his right eye had a retinal detachment a few weeks later. Roger now needed retinal surgery to repair his right eye. To fully support Roger, Dr. Cheskes cancelled his plans to travel to the United States for an event, so he could monitor Roger during the risky post-op period.
“My sight and the quality of the rest of my life depended on what everyone did in a few hours”, reflected Roger. “I consider myself very lucky to have been in the hands of the right people at the right time.” Thanks to ophthalmologists (or ‘Guardians of Vision’ as Roger calls them) his cataracts have been removed, and he now has 20/20 vision even after having bilateral retinal detachment repairs. The swift recognition and care provided, has ensured that not only can Roger see clearly, but that he can continue to use his vision to help others in his work as a radiologist.