Island Ophthalmologist saves Patient's Sight

If you are a fan of football, you may have heard of head Coach Mike Zimmer for the Minnesota Vikings. Last year, Zimmer suffered from a detached retina in his right eye and since, he has had over eight surgeries to try a restore as much eyesight as possible. A story of Coach Zimmer was featured on ESPN in regards to his retinal detachment.

A local, Cocoa resident, Randy Young happened to be watching the ESPN special about Mike Zimmer while he himself was experiencing severe floaters in his right eye. “The floaters were very persistent and were concerning me, so I went to an ophthalmologist who said I had a post-vitreous detachment,” Young said, adding that after several days he noticed he could no longer see his nose, then no longer his feet. “I knew something was terribly wrong, so over a week later, I went back to the same ophthalmologist who diagnosed me with a retinal detachment. I was then referred to Dr. Frank Venzara III, the local retina specialist, who got me in that same day.”

A retinal detachment is considered an emergent surgery because, if not repaired, it could result in permanent vision loss or blindness.

“I have two daughters ages 5 and 15, and I work full-time to provide for my family, so this was a stressful situation knowing I could be permanently blind in my right eye.,” Young said, “It was pretty coincidental when I finally realized soon after watching that ESPN special interview that I had the same eye condition as NFL Coach Mike Zimmer. I saw Dr. Venzara during his Monday clinic, and he scheduled me for surgery at Cape Canaveral Hospital that same evening.”

Young had vitrectomy surgery to repair the detached retina on the evening of July 24th. After the surgery, the patient must be positioned face-down for up to two weeks. Due to the gas bubble in the eye, the patient also cannot fly in an airplane or scuba dive for up to six weeks post-surgery.

Today, Young has recovered full sight in his right eye and has returned to work. He says he sees better from his right eye than his left eye now because all the floaters were removed. “That day was a stressful, fearful situation for my wife and I knowing I could permanently lose my vision,” Young said, adding that they are overwhelmingly grateful to Dr. Venzara.

Be aware of the signs and symptoms of a retinal tear or detachment. Timing is key when it comes to retinal tears. Any retinal tear can cause a retinal detachment. Prompt treatment with laser light done in the clinic setting can prevent a blinding retinal detachment. There is no pain with a retinal tear or detachment. Immediate dilated eye exam by an eye doctor is recommended if you experience any of the following:

  • Flashes of light (quick bursts lasting only a second)

  • Sudden dramatic increase of floaters (more than just occasional few) this can be an indication of bleeding inside the eye from tear

  • Floaters with a clouding of vision

  • Dark curtain or shadow in periphery of vision that doesn’t go away

Know the signs and symptoms of a retinal tear and seek immediate care from your eye car professional. It could save your vision!

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