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Final 4 Sutures Removed

This morning I went back to Cincinnati Eye Institute and met with Dr. Holland and had the usual run through of tests. I was there 1.5 months earlier than planned because a month ago I had a suture breakage and Dr. Holland said if we start having issues with sutures that I should come see him.

The broken suture was no fun, and I have to travel some on business – was worried that would happen in an airport or in front of 200 people.

So today, he cut the last four from my graft.  There are now no mechanical connections between my body and the donor’s cornea.  That made me anxious for some reason, but I was reassured that it would be fine (unless I got boxed in the eye!)   We tested my eye pressure, vision and did a topography.  All good.

Time to remove the sutures…

dalk-cross-section

The normal drops for numbing and within 5 minutes he’d removed them.   We talked again about PRK surgery in 5-6 months and I was on my way.

Ow.

After the numbing drops began to wear off, I took a couple of Tylenol.  But it was pretty painful.  The longer sutures are in, the more they seem to hurt after removal and numbing meds wear off.

Ow. Ow. 

By 4-5 pm I was very uncomfortable, and took 1/2 of a stronger pain pill which helped.  Also added some Systane to my eye – because the pain is likely caused by the inner eyelid rubbing on the freshly cut areas of my eye.

My plan is to medicate myself liberally tonight and hope that things are better in the morning.

Our PRK discussion was about trying to get my left eye free from the need for any contacts at all.  I asked about risks and Dr. Holland made the point that the risks for PRK are about the same as long term contact lens use (infections.)  So I am strongly considering it, despite the out-of-pocket costs and another procedure on the eye.  We will discuss in 4 months.

Follow up:  2 days later.

Pain is gone and only a residual dryness remains.  I have been doing my antibiotics.  Went metal detecting Saturday and Mountain Biking Sunday and it was great.  Safety glasses for sure!

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2013 in Dr. Visits, Recovery

 

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Graft Looks Great – 2 More Sutures Out (and they were stubborn.)

Well, 4 months elapsed since my last visit to Dr. Holland, so I had an appointment today.  I had the usual check ups and topology.  Their office was a *zoo* … I waited 2 hours.  Thank goodness their office has Wi-Fi and I was able to do some email and watch a bit of YouTube.  Not an empty seat in the waiting rooms – and I had asked for “first appointment of the day.”

My eye pressure was 18, totally normal.  The graft was crystal clear.  No problems.  I complained about my dry eye at night and he suggested I change to a gel based lubricant and gave me some samples.  I’ve used them before and not liked their goopiness.

The topology (right) showed that it was time to remove two more sutures, so I was numbed up and Dr. Holland started the process.  It seemed to take longer than usual to cut and pull them out.  I was stone-still during this process.  Anyway, after the numbing drops wore off, it was pretty sore – yowch!  The sutures seemed to be a bit stubborn.  I think that the longer they’re in, the more they integrate into the tissue of your eye.  I took some Tylenol and started my weekend a bit early

Anyway, the usual Vigamox antibiotic dose for 3 days and go back in 4 months.

Now I will make an appointment to get fit for contacts to match my new Rx (suture removal changed my astigmatism levels.)

postscript:  Eye was completely normal the next day.  No discomfort at all. And I think my vision has improved a bit, especially with my glasses.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2012 in Dr. Visits, Recovery

 

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DALK Transplant – Stellar Follow Up + New Soft Lens Trial

photo: Logan Ingalls

Well, it’s been a good week for my DALK recovery.  I went back to Dr. Holland for my graft checkup and he said it was perfect.  I also corrected to 20/20 on their refraction gear.  I had already ordered a new, special soft contact (see last post) and was not able to take it with me to Dr. Holland.  He wasn’t bothered by that and said that if the soft lens worked for me, it would be fine for my eye.

The downside to the soft lens (at least the first one I tried) is it corrected me only slightly better than 20/30.  This means there is room for improvement.  But the comfort is … amazing!   The fitter (Tamra at Dr. Koffler’s office here in Lexington) seems to think that I should wear it for a week and then we may want to correct the power to hit near 20/20.

Other questions answered:

  • Sutures:  We’ll take them out if they degrade.  Otherwise, he said, leave them in for now.
  • Graft Fragility:  I had lots of anxiety about the graft’s fragility, but Dr. Holland told me to quit worrying.  It would take a severe trauma to disturb the graft now that it’s healed up.
  • Rejection Period:  I’m exiting the prime rejection period for DALK.
  • Glasses:  Dr. Holland said to go ahead and make the lenses for glasses.
  • PRK/Lasik is still an option if we cannot make contacts work.   Insurance won’t pay for that in KY (or OH.)
  • If we run into suture issues (e.g. one breaks) we will remove them all at once.
  • He said it was right to stop wearing the RGPs if they were hurting.  He said I should be pain free and use whatever gives that to me.

Exciting!

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Dr. Visits, Recovery, Surgery-Story

 

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New – DALK Transplant Chronology

Quick post to let you know that I just made a new page which covers the chronology from my first Dr. appt to one year after the surgery.  Same posts, but in chronological order.

http://corneanews.com/about-kerataconus/chronology/

 

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DALK Checkup – A Few New Nuggets of Info

Lexington Farmer's Market

Well, today was a routine checkup.  Topography, pressure check, eye test.  Pretty much the same as the last time.  Dr. Holland removed two sutures as we continue “suture roulette.”   The graft looks great, and we’re right “on track.”

I did learn a couple of things today:

  • Peak rejection time is 8 months out from surgery.   This is for PK or DALK.  I thought it would be earlier.  This means that I must be extra diligent for RSVP symptoms between now and early next year.
  • The first sign of rejection will be redness and light sensitivity, not pain.   You should never wait for the pain if redness and pain are present.
  • When Restasis is part of your post-op drops routine, you should usually use it last.   So, for me, it’s Steroids, Pressure Med, then Restasis.
  • He suggested that I might go ahead and use Restasis in my right eye if allergies get bad again.  I think I’m through the worst of Fall allergies, however.
That’s it.
Learn more:
Oh, I really do appreciate all the messages I get about how much people are enjoying the blog.  Thanks much.
 
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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Dr. Visits, Surgery-Story

 

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NPR Covers Keratoconus

National Public Radio gives Keratoconus some much-needed publicity today in the US.  Sadly, they didn’t mention some of the most important points of the disease, such as DALK vs. PK, advances in contact lenses, or encouragement of organ donation.  Still, it’s great to have such a big increase in awareness.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in Interesting Stuff

 

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Post-DALK Transplant Topography – Graft

This is what my corneal topography looked like after 2 sutures removed, and led to the removal of two more.

Corneal Topography - Graft

 

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Managing Intraocular Eye Pressure Issues with my Corneal Transplant (and… 2 more sutures out!)

Topography - to map the surface of the cornea and guide suture removal

Well, I just returned from anther follow up with Dr. Holland post-corneal transplant.  The graft and optic nerve look good, but my eye pressure is still too high – a condition known as “steroid-induced intraocular pressure.”  I’m among a small number (8%) of people who seem to have steady, ongoing eye pressure rises with use of steroids.

We’ve adjusted the type of steroids I’m using, and I’ll be taking a drop to reduce eye pressure as well (the drop is normally used for Glaucoma patients.)   I was also relieved to learn that there were no other reasons my eye pressure was rising (such as tissue or structural complications from surgery.)   Apparently that can happen with full-thickness graft, though rare.  I will be happy when the pressure is moderated – as I don’t like the sound of Glaucoma one bit!   What I think is going on is that I will be using a tiny amount of steroids – far less than most people.   This means I must be alert for any irritation symptoms.

Vision was stable, not that much better.  They claimed astigmatism was down, but I’m not seeing it.  I worked hard to see eye chart numbers.   I wish I’d brought my glasses so they could have evaluated those.  I think it will show I can see pretty damn good through them (despite the old prescription.)

But in terms of graft recovery, things looked good enough to remove a couple more sutures.   This time, the removals had a bit more of a pinch and I was slightly sore afterwards.   Tylenol and back to work.  Next time I might ask them to delay the numbing drops until right before the process itself.   There is this unpredictable delay between numbing drops and when Dr. Holland actually does the removal.   Last time, it didn’t hurt at all.    This is similar to how it went during surgery – my pain meds started wearing off before the procedure was done.  Ouch!

One Niggle… I’m consistently impressed by the Cincinnati Eye Institute Staff, but sure wish they’d dump the blaring TV’s in the waiting room.   It’s not just them, it’s everywhere.  Doesn’t anyone else like to pull out a book to read anymore?

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2011 in Dr. Visits, Recovery, Surgery-Story

 

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Cornea Day in San Diego – DALK Practice Expansion Recommended

I saw on the web today that Cornea Day in San Diego happened yesterday.  Edward J. Holland, MD and W. Barry Lee, MD did a panel on surgical techniques.  Dr. Holland had told me that he planned to do this, specifically that there was a section about how more corneal surgeons need to master the DALK/Big Bubble technique in order to leverage its advantages.

“Despite the technically challenging aspects of deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty, the big-bubble technique can and should be mastered, a presenter said here.  “Corneal surgeons must add DALK to their surgical scope,” W. Barry Lee, MD, FACS, said during a presentation at Cornea Day, which preceded the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery meeting. “Get familiar with the big-bubble DALK steps.”   Dr. Lee discussed Anwar’s big-bubble DALK technique, stating that the main goal is to place an air injection posteriorly into the stroma to provide contrast between residual stroma and Descemet’s membrane. The surgeon should create a paracentesis to release pressure and inject a small air bubble to confirm the successful placement of the big bubble, according to Dr. Lee.”

I hope to ask Dr. Holland how the event went – and perhaps even get a copy of the transcript.

 
 

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Corneal Transplant – 2nd Follow Up with Dr. Holland

Cross-section of Corneal Tissue (approximate)

It’s now been 8 days since the surgery.

I worked half a day and went, with Heather, to Edgewood to see Dr. Holland for my “1 week” follow up appointment.  The Cincinnati Eye Institute office was very busy.  We waited 2 hours to see the doctor – so I will never go there in the afternoon again and never on a Friday!  Lesson learned.  The rest of my appointments will be early morning and early in the week.

After we finally got in, the technician checked my vision (strangely, the test was conducted with the band-aid contact lens inserted and affecting my vision.)  I did not get the exact measurements, but I had improved three steps beyond last time on the pinhole.

After Dr. Holland came in, he checked the epithelium (see illustration, top section) to see that it had healed over properly so he removed the bandaid contact lens after numbing my eye.  He used tweezers to remove it, and it did not hurt at all.  As soon as it was out, however, I could feel the dryness start.   Unexpected.

Transitions are always tough.  It was not really pain I felt, but a tickle-itch sort of feeling with a mild burn.   Dr. Holland said that the bandaid lens was holding moisture in before, and I would need to supplement that from here on – these lenses have pros and cons.  But cell growth was great.

This solution works for me during the day... I use a gel-tube version of it at night.

Dr. Holland looked me over well with slit lamps with and without florescent die, checked eye pressure and gave me a clean bill of health.   The cornea is clearing, the sutures looked fine, and I was good to go.  I am now to stop using the antibiotic but continue with the steroid and Restasis (tear medicine.)   Now, he said I should expect fluctuations in vision – and that we’re in the long slog of a slowly-healing cornea.

I will be going back in a month, and he may do a topography for the first suture removal, but the decision to remove them will be made on the fly based on the topographies.  I knew this.   He also said that Heather did not need to come with me for those appointments.  I’m glad because it’s a lot of trouble for her to come and wait for me.

I’m to continue wearing my shield at night, and he said sunglasses during the day.   This “wound” is still fragile and I need to take care of it.

We had Buffalo Wild Wings and headed home.  I got very dry on the ride and wished I had brought lubricant.  Once home, I added Systane and it helped a lot.   As I write this, the irritation seems to be fading after a Tylenol

The journey continues…

Click kitten to see my eye on Day 8 - with bandage lens removed. You can see sutures more clearly.

Postscript: 3/19/11.    Eye really feels raw today.  Hoping this is temporary.   Last night I used a gel-type lubricant before bed and that worked really well.   Steroid drops definitely have a burn now when they go in.   These are some things to expect I guess.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2011 in Dr. Visits, Recovery, Surgery-Story

 

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