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Special mattress may aid recovery after eye surgery.

Dear Dr. SerVaas:

My mother was recently diagnosed with a macular hole. The ophthalmologist told her there is surgery to correct this condition. However, the down side is that you have to keep your head down for at least two weeks after the surgery. This means that she would have to lie on her stomach, or sit with her head down constantly. Unfortunately, my mother is unable to sit or lie in this position for so long. Is there any other type of procedure or treatment that can be done for this condition?

Shelbey Hinkelmann

Rockford, Illinois

Ophthalmologist Stephen Massicotte responds:

"Thank you for your inquiry. As a general ophthalmologist, my understanding is that specialists remove the vitreous gel (vitrectomy) and 'peel' any thin cellophane-like adhesions from the inner surface of the retina over the fovea--the central portion of the macula that allows central reading acuity and color vision perception--to repair a macular hole.

"In addition, injection of a gas into the interior of the eye to replace the vitreous gel that was removed aids in complete reattachment of the macula, since often it is detached just in the area of the macular hole. The gas bubble 'floats' within the eye just like a carpenter's level, and the surgeon wants the bubble to lie against the macula at the end of the surgery to help the eye heal and reattach the retina.

"The position required for this to happen is face down so that the bubble floats to the top (back) of the eye, pressing the macula against the inner coat of the eye so it will reattach over the first few weeks post-operatively. This is the reason for the head or face-down positioning after surgery, which can be a challenge for many seniors to maintain for that period of time. However, there are foam mattress devices available to help in this regard. I can say I have personally seen this surgery miraculously restore vision in my own patients."
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Medical Mailbox
Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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