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A Mild Corneal Abrasion Caused By Trying New Contacts

fluorescein eye exam - Google Search - Google Chrome_2013-12-10_13-30-40Well the question as to whether my grafted cornea has fully regrown its nerves has been answered with a resounding “YES”

I have been hoping to make the transition to “regular” contacts and so have been testing a series provided to me by my fitter.  Two of the types of lenses were “too tight” meaning that they did not move around the eye enough and were difficult to get out.

It seems that during one of the tests, where the lens was sticking in one place through the day, I caused an microscopic abrasion on my cornea.  I had started feeling a persistent burning/lash sensation on my graft and, being a hyper-vigilant paranoid patient, went in to see Dr. Koffler.  He applied florescence and at first didn’t see anything. But after a few moments he found a minor abrasion in the middle of the grafted cornea and concluded this was the source of my discomfort. The graft looked fine, by the way.

muro-solution

I took a break from the lenses, applied Muro 128 and have settled back into using the “custom” 3-month lenses I was originally using, but with an updated prescription.

Everything is fine now as we move into the holidays.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2013 in Diary Entries

 

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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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Broken Suture on Cornea Transplant Graft – How I Handled It

 

itm_l_1144Had a bit of an issue last night.  After taking out my contacts, my grafted eye started to sting like a really, really bad eyelash.  I immediately knew what it was – a suture had broken during the day.  I still have four sutures that Dr. Holland had wanted me to leave in for as long as possible.  No panic.  But time to put the plan into action.

The sensation was a sting, worse than an eyelash in my eye.  I looked at my eye carefully in mirror under magnification, and I could see a tiny little spot where the suture had been moving around.  In the center, a tiny, tiny little suture sticking straight out.   I noticed it after contact removal because my contact was acting like a bandage lens preventing the little suture from moving around.

At a previous appointment, I had asked Dr. Holland what to do if this happened, so when it did, I tried not to freak out.  I went ahead and put a drop of Vigamox (antibiotic) in before heading to bed to keep bacteria from growing in the micro-wound – with a plan to call in the morning.

Dr. Holland had previously told me that I didn’t need to drive to his office (90 minutes away) if this happened, but to just go to a local surgeon in Lexington.  I contacted Dr. Koffler’s office near my house and they had me in at 8:45, and the problem suture was out (or part of it) by 10 AM.

But the suture didn’t come out cleanly.  As you may remember from a previous post, the cornea is getting stronger all the time, and the sutures are getting pretty cemented in and losing some of their strength.  When the Dr. grabbed the eroded suture to pull it out, it broke into two pieces at the knot, and only the protruding section came out on his tweezers.  He tried to get the other one, but it was “scarred in” and he thought it better to leave it there rather than cause too many scratches on the graft.  He guessed that it would never be an issue.  Fine by me.  It would not be painful because it was under the skin.  I’ll let Dr. Holland look at it when I’m up there next.

I’m on a 4×4 regimen of Vigamox and have to leave my contact off for 48 hours, but I think all is okay.  Once this is settled, I’ll call Dr. Holland and see if he’d like to take out the rest of the sutures (so they don’t give me trouble during a business trip or otherwise inconvenient time.)

So… inconvenient, but no panic.  Rather straightforward resolution.  On with the day.

Here is an illustration of what happened to the best of my ability… the (A) is the protruding suture that was getting moved around and where things hurt.  The black dots are the knots.

graft-broken-suture

 
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Posted by on May 22, 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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Trying Different RGPs – My lens tolerance is only a few hours.

Well, as usual, this is going to take some trial and error!

I have tried three different RGPs (Essilor Perimeter Lens) and cannot tolerate any of them – the mini-scleral was pushing a “grove” into my sclera – apparently my eye was swelling around it?

I can wear them 7-8 hours, but my eye is very sore afterward.    I am now going to be trying a custom-profiled soft lens.  The manufacturer apparently uses my topography to construct them.  I was hoping I could use a soft lens, so we’ll soon know.

Koffler Vision Group is doing a great job.

photo:  Lee J Haywood

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Diary Entries, Recovery, Vision Improvements

 

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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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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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DALK Corneal Surgery – Four Days On

Had I planned better, I would have worn this home from surgery and enjoyed children's reaction.

I continue to recover from my DALK corneal transplant/graft procedure on March 9th, and thought I’d bring my (growing) audience up to date on some highlights.  My wife has been a trooper in helping me with things over the last few days, including a bit of grumpiness and anxiety.

Positives:

  • Eyelid swelling reduced.
  • Eye redness reduced.
  • Milky-white vision is gone.
  • Pain levels reduced – Tylenol helps with a mild burn in the morning.  I am surprised how quickly pain has dropped.
  • The overnight discomfort is near zero.  This is a huge improvement for me. In the past, my gigantic cone would get dry and raw overnight.  I used to have to lubricate every hour or so and the pain would wake me many times per night.  For the last two nights, I’ve slept like a baby without any drugs.
  • No post-7:00 pm pain that I had with scleral lenses.
  • Foreign object sensation with sutures roughly the same as a RGP lens.

Annoyances/Negatives:

  • ITCH!!! The areas around my eyelid and eye socket where the injections were given (I was asleep) became very itchy for a day or so.

    Alas, I ended up with this rather more boring version. I just need a flintlock pistol for me belt now.

    If this happens to you don’t forget you cannot rub your eye. Put your shield on and occupy your mind.   It took Benadryl and it helped a bit.

  • An annoyance is this “bandage contact lens” I was given.  It’s purpose is to encourage healing of the epithelium and improve comfort while the nerve endings are exposed.  It’s the size of a quarter-dollar and does not fit well and makes my vision “wavy” – like looking through a wine glass.  If I turn my head slightly, I see bits and pieces of what’s to come.  This morning, from across the room, I caught a glimpse between the contact lens waviness of my iPhone clock – and it was as if I had 20/20 vision for a moment.   Last night, I glanced at the stars and could see that shortly, I’ll be able to enjoy them again.  This should come out at my next Dr. visit.
  • Light sensitivity.  My doctors said that this was quite normal.  We’ve had beautiful sunny weather in Kentucky and I’ve needed to remain in the shadows.  A dark-black patch (available at your local pharmacy) has been tremendously helpful.  I recommend those having surgery buy one.   Dark sunglasses not enough for me.
  • Steroid and antibiotic drops have a mild, temporary burn – but these are critical to recovery.
  • I caught myself drifting off to sleep once without my shield.   Must not!

My activities have been slowly increasing – I went out to breakfast with my wife and eldest daughter yesterday.  Enjoyed it, but had to wear my dark-black patch to avoid the brightness.   I took my bike for a short spin in the neighborhood on the widest lanes.  Dozens of neighbors out enjoying the Spring day.  I did some minor repairs around the house and tried to help with regular household chores (avoiding those requiring lifting or extensive bending.)

I will check in again in a few days.  So pleased to get the encouraging messages, thanks to all.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in Diary Entries, Recovery, Surgery-Story

 

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A Roller Coaster Ride – But Improving

My pirate patch

My pirate patch

Well yesterday and last night have been rough. My 20/50 pinhole eyechart performance was encouraging, but now the vision is all milky again and the swelling itches worse than anything. Took benadryl to sleep.

Naturally, I worry about rejection, but I only have the milky vision this morning, which is only one symptom. Not the intense pain, extreme light sensitivity, or mayor redness which are also hallmarks of rejection. Also, Dr Holland has told me rejection with compliant patients is very rare. Still, I’m a worrier.

The culprit may be this “bandage” contact lens, which is bunching up on the front if my eye. Anyway, as I write this, waiting in call back from Dr Holland’s office.

Cont…

Dr. Holland’s office seems to think it’s the bandage contacts lens that’s accumulating debris underneath that causing the fogginess.  Re-assured.   Wearing my pirate patch today.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2011 in Diary Entries, Recovery, Surgery-Story

 

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My DALK Corneal Surgery Day

In the pre-op prep area

Around 10:30 AM yesterday, we arrived at the St. Elizabeth SurgiCenter for my DALK procedure.  After a brief wait I was taken back to the prep area where the nurses to sign papers, took my weight and temperature, and checked my vitals.  I was hooked to an automated blood pressure monitor and shortly after, an IV.   My wife came back to sit with me while we waited on some other patients who were getting Cataracts removed to go through Dr. Holland’s busy operating room.  I asked the nurses if they could add espresso to the IV, but sadly, they couldn’t.   (Attn: Starbucks – opportunity?)

Dr. Holland came in and said hi, verified it was my Left Eye we were working on (this is part of their quality control) and then marked it with a pen.   I was asked at least 10 times which eye we were working on, which led to my earlier post.

The anesthesiologist visited, described the process for putting me to sleep for a few minutes during which they would be numbing my eye  (called a “block”).  I was glad to hear I’d be out while needles are around my eye (remember the childhood chant “cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye”?  I said bring on the loony juice for that, Doc..  He said they’d have me “sleepy” during the procedure but able to respond to questions, etc.  He also said that should I feel anxious they can add some more relaxation to the formula.  I asked him if I could get a doggy-bag with some of that for occasional home use (I am raising two teenagers, after all.)

Several doctors and nurses visited and asked me many questions, listened to my heart and lungs, and filled out many on-line checklists on the computer terminal.  It was more boring than anything.

One of the doctors came in (I wish I’d gathered names) and pleasantly talked to me about my condition – and offered up much reassurance about what I already knew – Dr. Holland was renowned for his abilities in corneal grafting – indicating that the guy in the next room had flown in from Colorado for a transplant.

Surgery

After a while, people gathered and it was time to get sedated (remember the Ramone’s song?).  I remember them saying they were ready to start the ….. and that’s it – dial tone.  Asleep instantly.   I then woke to what felt like a flurry of nurses and my bed was being rolled into the OR, which was a well-lit room with Dr. Holland and his assistant.   My left eye was in lockdown mode.  Very strange.

Some of the things I remember from the surgery:

  • The placement of the trephine on my eye and the sensation of Dr. Holland spinning it -whee.  This was cutting a precise circular area of my cornea to a precise depth.    Completely painless, but I recall thinking “there’s no turning back now.”
  • The big bubble being inflated.  This caused my blurry world to go snow white all of a sudden.  Very strange.
  • The dissection of the cornea – lots of blurry lights and a slow removal of the whiteness.  Completely painless.
  • Discussions between Dr. Holland and his assistant about a micro perforation of my Descemet’s membrane.   *(More on what happened later – Dr. Holland filled me in in the follow up visit.)
  • Dr. Holland requesting right and left handed scissors as he cut the outer radius of my cornea free.
  • Dr. Holland requesting the donor cornea.   This was a special moment that I knew was coming.
  • The beginning of suturing.  And some short-term pain that the anesthesiologist remedied on the fly.
  • The application of a large contact lens – which is meant to reduce discomfort while the epithelium heals.
  • Dr. Holland saying – “all done, beautiful job.”

Midway Through the Surgery, A Complication

I learned during my follow up that the surgery took twice as long as usual because of the microperforation of my Descemet’s membrane caused by the scar tissue that severe Keratoconus causes.  At this point, many surgeons would have immediately converted to PK and done a full-penetrating graft.  Dr. Holland’s skill in dealing with this (>50 DALKs per year) came into play and he was able to specially dissect around the perforation and save my Descemet’s membrane.  The implications of this are faster healing time, near zero chance of rejections, and a graft likely to last the rest of my life.   All of the work in finding Dr. Holland, the trips to Edgewood, and the homework paid off in those few minutes.

Because of the unexpected extension of the procedure, as suturing began, my anesthesia began to wear off (I’m notoriously resistant to anesthetics, my dentist has to shoot me twice as much as most patients.)   I was so sleepy that all I could do was moan – Dr. Holland would apologize to me “Sorry about that.”   After a couple of these, the anesthesiologist added more pain medicine to the mix and all was well soon – but not immediately.

It was pretty uncomfortable for a few minutes before that stuff got into my system.   It didn’t last long, but I would like to have known some sort of signal other than vague moaning.   Later, they said I should have let them know – but I was terrified of moving during surgery and disrupting the precise activity Dr. Holland was doing.   So ask your surgical nurses or anesthesiologists what you should do if you feel pain during the procedure.   For most people, this would never be an issue.  I was just under the knife longer than expected for the drugs administered.

After the procedure. Shielded and Caffeinated

Success!!

Dr. Holland’s words will echo for a while… “All Done, it went beautifully.”

After we were done, I was bandaged with a shield, taken somewhere to rest, and eventually transferred from a bed to a recliner in a room where Heather was waiting.  It was nice to see her smile.   I told her “they did the DALK successfully, it went well.”  or perhaps I said “Led Zeppelin planted some Pansies on our Garage Roof” – hell if I know, I was flying high.  I had poor balance and was pretty sore.  I lost all track of time.

After missing my morning coffee or any Food for a while, I was also getting a caffeine / food headache.  The nurses then offered me possibly the best tasting Coke I’d ever had in my life.  They also gave me some medicine for my headache, and then I was  led to the men’s room for additional relief.  Soon, it was time to say goodbye, and, 3-4 hours after arriving, I was wheeled out to the van and we headed back to Lexington.

Get Ready for Some Discomfort, But It Doesn’t Last

After leaving, things got painful in and around the eye and I would have described it at the 8 out of 10 level for a short while.  This should be expected – and you should plan on staying on a comfy couch or bed for the rest of the day.  Have help around to bring you what you need.  It stands to reason things would hurt: your eye was just stuck, sliced and sewn up.  It was manipulated like it had never been.   Manipulation includes the clamp that holds it open, tons of surgical instruments, endless poking, and several major injections.   I wonder if the pain management could have been better perhaps with narcotics – but the nurses just told me to take Tylenol.   Tip: Ask your nurses if you can have something stronger just in case.

But take some comfort.  It felt far better after 5-6 hours of rest – and by the next day, the soreness was more irritating than anything.   It is worth it and a small price to pay for long-term better vision. Just don’t expect this to be a cake-walk the first day.

My eyes are tired, so this post will end here.  Next: My follow up.

Please make sure to read the entire diary and get the full story.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2011 in Diary Entries, Recovery, Surgery-Story

 

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