I am a 67-year-old female in otherwise excellent health. Thirteen days ago, an opthamologist performed surgery to remove a cataract from the left eye. Medicare and a supplemental plan will cover the costs.
I did some research today. What I learned is troubling.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health says:
"Acute angle-closure attack is a medical emergency. Blindness
will occur in a few days if it is not treated.
?The Mayo Clinic website calls angle-closure glaucoma
"a serious medical condition."
?Wikipedia says: "Acute angle closure is an ocular emergency, "where intra-ocular pressure is above 30 mmHg.
I called my doctor's office 5 hours after surgery about pain and loss of sight in the left eye. Also, whether I should be concerned about a rather large red blotch.
The office staff assured me not to be concerned. I was reminded I'd see the doctor the following morning. I already knew about the next morning's appointment. The assurance reduced neither my concern nor the pain.
Before surgery, my doctor assured me I'd be able to drive myself to his office for the first post-op appointment following surgery.
The left eye had no sight 12 hours after surgery and pain was intense. A kind friend drove me to that first post-op appointment. Combining pain and blindness with driving would have been a very dangerous situation.
According to the medical literature online, sudden and very high intra-ocular pressure (above 30 mmHg) can be painful and dangerous.
The intra-ocular pressure in my left high measured 40 mmHg -- a medical emergency.
Both eyes were watering from the pain of the left eye. Keeping the left eye closed helped.
My doctor scolded me for keeping my left eye shut. Because of pain it was difficult to open the left eye. After measuring the pressure, the doctor should have understood. My right eye wanted to shut also. I think it was sympathizing with the left eye.
I believe I had acute angle-closure glaucoma. When asked, the doctor said the pressure of 40 mmHg would take 6 months to cause permanent eye damage.
I learn today that medical literature disagrees.
I asked the doctor what caused the red blotch in the left eye.
The doctor said, "I don't know." The evening of the day after surgery, a Surgical Center nurse called to follow up. In answer to my question, the nurse said the red blotch was "heme" or blood. (I had already seen the doctor at my first post-op visit earlier that day, when the doctor had said, "I don't know.")
Why write you: Everything about my post-op experience scares me:
1. From what I understand, high intra-ocular pressure causes optic nerve damage. Optic nerve damage is permanent and causes blindness. Permanent blindness can occur within days (not six months).
2. The doctor's advice about being able to drive 12 hours after surgery seems to have been careless advice. Careless about my safety and the safety of others on the road.
3. During pre-op, the doctor provided general information about complications common to all surgical procedures. Information about complications of the eye such as what I went through was not provided. Even after having gone through what I've gone through, I still don't get much specific or relevant information or instruction about what I should be concerned about or what I should do. Even when I ask.
4. Until this evening, I had no idea the medical literature would have considered my condition a medical emergency. The doctor doesn't seem to be overly concerned. Yesterday, eye pressure measured 24 mmHg (normal is 10 - 20 mmHg). The doctor prescribed or advised nothing to reduce the pressure even though I expressed concern. My father suffered blindness from glaucoma in his old age. I told the doctor "I don't want to go through that." I don't know if the doctor cared.
But I care and I'm scared.
I might have relied on my doctor's competence and good-will when maybe I should not have.
I don't know if I can trust him to prevent optic nerve damage and blindness. Any amount of optic nerve damage or blindness is unacceptable. I sought treatment from this doctor to improve my eyesight, not make it worse.
What should I do? Would another ophthamologist be willing to treat me? Would he/she be afraid to get involved under such circumstances? Where can I go for help?