“I was on a family holiday in Raja Ampat, off the coast of Indonesia. About two days into the trip, my eye started really playing up and my sight began deteriorating. Then on Christmas Day I woke up and had no vision in that right eye. I didn't know it at the time, but I had a detached retina, and the macula was off – which basically means you lose your sight. It was pretty scary!”
A detached retina occurs when the retina lifts away from the back of the eye, causing a peripheral shadow in your visual field and makes the vision blurry. It can be preceded by sudden onset of flashes and floaters in your vision.
“The retina is the tissue around the back of your eye and what happened to mine is it collapsed. Similar to if you can imagine wallpaper on a wall collapsing.”
According to research published by The British Medical Journal while a 7-to-10-day window was previously considered standard practice for dealing with macula-off retinal detachment, there is a growing base of evidence that earlier interventions within 72 hours may be associated with improved visual outcomes.
Charlie reached out to a family friend who is an eye surgeon who emphasised the importance of Charlie returning to the UK as soon as possible to have his eye condition assessed, and likely operated on.
“When I called him he said ‘The only person I can recommend to do this is Mr Danny Mitry.’ So, he said he’d reach out for me and explain the situation.”
“Literally within about an hour Mr Mitry called me on the phone and explained it was likely a detached retina. He was the most wonderfully calm person you could possibly imagine and incredibly articulate about what was happening to me, and how he was going to treat it.”
A couple of days later Charlie landed in London and got a taxi straight to the London Clinic, where Mr Danny Mitry and the eye health care team were waiting for him.
After assessing Charlie’s condition, he underwent a 1-2 hour operation called vitreo-retinal surgery, which is used to treat any eye-related issues involving the retina, macula and vitreous fluid. This treatment method, also known as vitrectomy, is usually performed as a day case procedure under local or general anaesthetic, which means patients can recover in their own home.
“The care in the hospital was excellent. From beginning to end it was the most comforting, reassuring, professional experience. Everyone I met was so attentive, caring, kind and thoughtful. It’s a level of caring I’ve just never really experienced before.”
During vitreo-retinal surgery the Ophthalmic Surgeon will make three small keyhole incisions on the white of the eye, and then carefully remove the vitreous gel in the back half of the eye. Then the vitreous gel will be replaced with either a balanced salt solution, a gas bubble or an oil bubble which pushes the retina into place so it can heal properly. Eventually, the eye will make new fluid to replace the vitreous that was removed during the surgery.
In Charlie’s situation a gas bubble was the chosen treatment method, which means his recovery process included posturing, where he had to hold his head in a certain position for a few weeks, to keep the gas bubble in the right spot.
“Now 10 months later, I've got about 90% of the vision back in my eye. I'm really grateful to Mr Mitry and The London Clinic for restoring my vision so close to what is was.”
Charlie will be returning for a check-up with Mr Mitry every year at this stage but is delighted with the success of the surgery.
Find out more about eye health surgeries and services at The London Clinic here.
Read more about Mr Danny Mitry, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at the London Clinic on his consultant profile here.