'Thank you for working to save my sight'

John Bennett

Published on 4 June 2020

A patient who tore his retina during a sneezing fit has thanked the expert staff who helped to repair it.

John Bennett, 63, woke up in the night sneezing because of his hayfever and the following morning noticed his vision was blurred with dark spots and a cobweb effect. 

He initially called his GP, who offered a face-to-face appointment but asked him to track down his medical records from his opticians.

But when Mr Bennett called his optician, they recommended seeing an eye specialist rather than a GP and arranged an immediate appointment. Within a few minutes of their examination he was told his retina was torn and he needed urgent treatment. 

Two hours later he was at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital’s ophthalmic department.

He said: “The team were fully protected with PPE and gave me a facemask. The doctor tried to laser the tear but it was right in the corner and despite best efforts, couldn’t seal the tear. 

“There was an ophthalmic surgeon finishing his list and about to go home. The team spoke to him and he agreed to operate there and then.”

The operation took place that afternoon and Mr Bennett was on his way home to Bossingham, near Canterbury, by 6pm.

He said: “I have to wait a couple of weeks taking it easy until they can confirm 100 per cent success, but what a service!

“From Jason Gillan at Specsavers Canterbury who recognised the problem, to Mr Schultz the surgeon who stayed on to sort me out, they were fantastic and thoroughly professional. 

“There is no doubt in my mind without the speedy intervention I would be looking at a long-term problem with my eyesight.”

Consultant ophthalmic surgeon David Shultz said it was important to seek medical advice for vision problems or other worrying symptoms.

He said: “Symptoms such as flashing lights in the eye, sudden black spots or floaters, or any loss of vision can be indicators of serious eye conditions so it is always best to get advice.

“If treatment is sought quickly, we may be able to repair or reverse the damage and preserve a patient’s eyesight.

“Although opticians are closed for routine appointments because of the coronavirus outbreak, they are still able to help with urgent or emergency problems and can refer to our team if needed.”