Tyler Burress, Retina Patient

Dr. Leiderman and patient, Tyler BurressTyler Burress is an active 18-year-old who loves sports and dreams of becoming a Marine. But an accident on Christmas Day in 2011 nearly had him sidelined.

While playfully wrestling with a cousin, Tyler was punched in the eye. According to Tyler’s mother, Dana, the blow didn’t leave a bruise and didn’t seem to be a cause for concern. However, a few days later Tyler told his mother that he was seeing things floating in his right eye. Shortly after, he told her that he could not see anything at all except for blackness.

Tyler’s parents promptly made an appointment with a local eye doctor in their hometown of Danville, Illinois. He was sent to a retinal specialist who determined that Tyler had sustained blunt trauma to his right eye, which quickly developed into a giant retinal tear. He referred Tyler to Yannek Leiderman, MD, PhD, of UIC’s Retina Service in Chicago to treat his complicated condition.

“A few days later we went to UIC and found that Tyler’s retina was not only torn, but it had detached,” recalls Dana.

“These types of complex retinal detachments can be challenging to repair, particularly in children,” says Dr. Leiderman.

He adds that while surgically repairing a retinal detachment is a common procedure performed by retina surgeons, maintaining the health of the eye and achieving good visual outcomes is more difficult in children and young adults. This was the primary reason Tyler’s retinal specialist referred him to the experts at UIC’s Department of Ophthalmology.

Upon examining Tyler, Dr. Leiderman recommended immediate surgery. Despite the fast turn of events, Tyler’s parents were unfazed.

“I was confident we were in the best place,” says Dana. The following day, Dr. Leiderman performed eye surgery (pars plana vitrectomy) to reattach Tyler’s retina.

“The surgical procedure was a success,” says Dr. Leiderman. “And while Tyler has not regained perfect vision, he has made great progress and continues to improve.”

“Tyler’s eye is healing very well,” says Dana, noting that there is no scar tissue. She adds that he was able to go home the day after surgery. But the toughest part for Tyler was keeping his head down for two weeks in order to maintain the gas bubble behind his eye that held his retina in place.

“His vision is getting better,” says Dana, “although he sees wavy lines that may or may not go away.” Tyler’s vision may gradually improve over the year, which is typical following the surgical treatment of retinal detachment involving the critical central part of the retina.

In the meantime, Tyler is back in the game again. He is considering attending a community college to pursue other interests until he finds out whether his vision will improve enough to join the Marines.

“Tyler is a success story because we were able to restore his vision and help a young man continue to achieve his goals,” says Dr. Leiderman. He credits the skills of the entire UIC team who assisted in Tyler’s treatment and for saving his sight.

“It is a privilege to work as part of a team, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, technicians and many others here at UIC that allow us to care for the most challenging and complex cases,” adds Dr. Leiderman.

To learn more about the extraordinary patient care and leading research underway at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, log on to www.chicago.medicine.uic.edu/eye.

by Margaret Doyle

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