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Peter Burns counts his blessings for the care received at the Eye and Ear

With so much going on in our lives, sometimes we to get our eyes checked. But if there is anyone that understands the importance of having your eyes checked, it’s Peter Burns. Peter was living in regional Victoria and had recently left the Public Service and was embarking on a new role as a part time tour guide. After a check-up with his doctor, he was advised to go and see an optometrist. “I felt like I had a grain of sand in my right eye, there was nothing obviously wrong.” Later in the week Peter was showing tourists from the USA around the city, and as the group had some free time to explore the city on their own, Peter decided to go to the Emergency Department at the Eye and Ear to check his eye.

Everything seemed OK until the doctor who examined Peter noticed something concerning. “The doctor said he was sorry to tell me that I had retinal detachment in not one, but both eyes!” Peter was scheduled as a priority for eye surgery the next day. Peter was back at 7am sharp the next morning, and the operation went well. Peter was soon on his feet again and three months later his eyesight had returned to normal and he was back to work with the tour groups., which saw him travel to Scotland, Eastern Europe, Iran, Iceland, Greenland, Central Asia and Tasmania. However, Peter wasn’t out of the woods yet, as Peter was told it was a possibility he would develop cataracts. Unfortunately he did.

In 2019, Peter was referred to a cataract specialist by an optometrist. After having the operation to remove the cataract from his right eye Peter developed a bleed behind the retina, causing the complete loss of sight in his eye. The specialist quickly arranged for Peter to be transferred to the Eye and Ear where he had emergency surgery to stop the bleeding and another operation to drain blood from behind the retina. 

It was a challenging time for Peter. After the surgery the doctor on call held out his hand and asked Peter how many fingers he could see. “My answer was that I couldn’t even see his hand, let alone his fingers, and at this stage I had almost resigned myself to being blind in the right eye.” 

After a few days Peter noticed he could make out some shapes with his right eye which gave him a glimmer of hope. Upon discharge, Peter was given a range of eye drops and was asked to come back for check-ups. Peter slowly regained eyesight and after three months, he was able to legally drive again. “To go from a point where you think that you have no sight in one eye to be able to drive about again and do everything as usual is fantastic.”

“I have now had three emergency operations by some of Australia’s best eye surgeons who have given me back my sight. Further to this, the nursing staff in the hospital are of the highest standard and looked after me in a most caring manner.”

Since the operation over a year ago Peter ceased using the eye drops and due to COVID-19 restrictions, has participated in ongoing telehealth consultations with Eye and Ear doctors. He is very pleased with the progress. “It will probably never be 100%, but I am more than happy. As my dear old Grandmother, who was almost blind, would say “count your blessings.”