Retinal Detachment Emergency Treatment

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Holekamp 3Recently on a Tuesday morning, Dr. Holekamp received a phone call at the Pepose Vision Institute from an optometrist in southern Illinois. His pastor came to the office complaining of a 3-day history of floaters, flashes, and loss of peripheral vision. The optometrist diagnosed a macula-on retinal detachment. The term “macula-on” means that the center of the retina, the macula, is still attached and the patient can still see straight ahead. In fact, the pastor’s vision was 20/20. Because retinal detachments can progress quickly, a macula-on retinal detachment is a true emergency. Upon hearing the diagnosis, Dr. Holekamp asked for the patient to come to Pepose Vision Institute immediately. She also called the operating room team to alert them to the situation.

Fortunately, Pepose Vision Institute has its own dedicated operating rooms and surgical team right in the Chesterfield building.

The patient arrived at Pepose Vision Institute at 2:00 pm. Dr. Holekamp was able to confirm the diagnosis, but unfortunately during the drive from Southern Illinois to Chesterfield the macula also became detached. Now, the pastor’s vision was legal blindness. Nevertheless, the patient was treated like a true emergency and was in the operating room by 3:15 pm. By 4:30 pm the surgery was successful, the retina was attached, and the patient was walking out the front door of the Pepose Vision Institute with an eye patch on. Less than 2 weeks later, the pastor’s vision was 20/20 again.

In Dr. Holekamp’s prior 16 years of retinal practice in St. Louis a patient with an emergency retinal detachment had never gotten to the operating room so quickly. The excellent office staff, technicians, and OR team at Pepose Vision Institute made that possible. Or, as the pastor likes to think, it was divine intervention.