I was attending the International Coatings Exhibition in Charlotte, NC for work when I got the somethings-going-on phone call. We were four months post-eye ball saving/retina reattachment surgeries with one month remaining before cornea transplant. The school called my husband to say Mik was complaining about pain in his eye. My husband brought Mik home to take a nap and see how it would go over the next couple of hours. Mik woke up still in severe pain and his eye was red. Not pink like the standard infections most people get. His eye was red. The hubs took Mik to the retina doctor’s office but our usual doctor wasn’t there. The other doctor wanted to take Mik in for surgery right away because he couldn’t get him to open his eye. Finally, after a slim glance and an agreement from my husband to wait until I got there, they waited till the next morning. It was a mistake or maybe it was too late by then anyway.
I arrived late at night and climbed in bed with Mik to comfort him. All night, I listened with fear and heartbreak to his moans. His eye was causing so much pain. We thought it was just a loose stitch that needed to be removed.
It wasn’t just a loose stitch. It was Endophthalmitis (a serious intraocular bacterial infection requiring immediate medical attention) caused by streptococcus pneumoniae. The doctor removed the stitch and injected a cocktail of antibiotics into his eye. Two days later, he was admitted to the hospital with orbital cellulitis for IV antibiotics of vancomycin and another that I can’t remember the name of. He stayed in the hospital for five days, was treated at home for another week with injectable vancomycin then was treated for 6 weeks with vancomycin drops.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a common bacteria but it is an aggressive bacteria. Either Endophthalmitis or Orbital Cellulitis can cause vision loss. Mik had both, at once. Mik lost all his chances of reversing the damage his eye injury because he got these infections.
What you need to know and watch out for after eye surgery:
1. The eye is one of the slowest healing body part. Four months after the initial injury, Mik’s eye still wasn’t stable enough for cornea transplant. His eye was actually healing well and looking fantastic with some vision capability already. Plan on the healing to take six months or more depending upon the type and number of surgeries needed.
2. Do not let any water into the eye, no matter how inviting and sanitary that pool might look. It was hard not to let an 8 year old have fun. I realize now just how dangerous hot tubs, swimming, even showers and other activities could be to someone in his situation.
3. Wash hand, sanitize hands, and never let them near the injured eye. We all know that our hands carry lots of bacteria. Mik was prone to rubbing his eye, probably because of the loose stitch. That stitch was also most likely the entry point for the bacteria. Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria is a common bacteria found in schools and other public places.
4. If the eye appears RED (not pink) seek immediate medical care and press for surgery to investigate for infection. We are familiar with ‘Pink Eye’ or conjunctivitis. Endophthalmitis appears a deeper, darker red and is called ‘Red Eye’.
3. Seek immediate medical attention if there is any pain. Better to be safe than blind. Timing is critical.
4. Endophthalmitis and orbital cellulitis are sight threatening infections. Time matters. The longer it takes to get treatment, the more damage that is done. Keep in mind that Mik was on antibiotic drops when he got infected. The nearly completely healed retina detached again and suffered so much trauma that Mik could no longer detected light.
I can’t stress it enough. Time matters. Don’t wait.
This is a great reference website for eye injuries.
Eye Injury MD