Medical Advances: Optic Nerve Injuries

FRESNO, Calif.

Ken Denison sells boats, sometimes 100-million dollar boats. With boats that have a state-of-the-art command center, faux diamond, onyx baths, and a lot of expensive toys. Having an eye for the littlest details can make or break a sale.

"It's everything to me," Ken Denison told Action News.

But one rainy summer morning, a wrong step, and a 10-foot fall to the ground suddenly turned out the lights.

"Immediately, the vision went out of [my] eye. It went black," Ken said.

Optic nerve injuries are the focus of Doctor David Tse's research at the University of Miami's Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. He says a forceful blow to the head can cause severe damage.

"The optic nerve gets injured, and the patient cannot see at all," David T. Tse, M.D., FACS, an orbital surgeon at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute,explained.

Ken's case was very unusual. Three months after his accident, Doctor Tse, and some advanced imaging techniques, found something all ken's other doctors had missed.

"He had some unrecognized foreign bodies trapped inside the orbit, touching and impinging on the optic nerve," Dr. Tse said.

Thirteen pieces of wood chips, an inch long or more each, were embedded in ken's eye socket, pressing on the optic nerve.

"You just wonder how you could've lived with that much stuff in the back of an orbit of an eye and not know something about it," Ken said.

"He is one of the few, very very lucky patients," Dr.Tse said.

Now, with 20-40 vision, Ken says the improvement is almost unbelievable.

"The week after that fall, I thought I'd never be where I am today," Ken said.

A lucky man who will never stop appreciating big boats and little details.

Although traumatic optic nerve injury is often irreversible, the sooner a patient is treated, the better the chance of restoring vision. Doctor Tse is now working with a grant from the department of defense, exploring a variety of possible treatments for optic nerve injury.

Omar Montejo, Media Relations
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Miami, FL
(305) 243-5654

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