West Norfolk woman’s thanks to surgeon who saved her eyesight

Jane Short, 58, who had her eyesight saved by doctors at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

Jane Short, 58, who had her eyesight saved by doctors at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after suffering a detatched retina. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Friday the 13th began as a nightmare for Jane Short when she realised she was rapidly losing her sight in her right eye.

Eye consultant, Ted Burton, at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Denise Bradley

Eye consultant, Ted Burton, at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

But the day ended with the former nurse singing the praises of NHS staff after a surgeon saved her vision after she suffered a detached retina.

The 58 year old, of Dersingham, near King's Lynn, woke up on September 13 to discover that she was losing her sight. She was rushed to hospital later that day to be operated on while fully conscious.

Mrs Short, who has a phobia of hospitals, hailed the care she received at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) after having surgery on her eye under a local anaesthetic.

The patient said she was in danger of permanently losing the sight in her right eye. However, the hospital's consultant ophthalmologist Ted Burton 'deserved a knighthood' after fixing the retina by carrying out emergency surgery.

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Mrs Short is still recovering from the operation, but is expected to regain her sight after suffering the rare condition, which affects one in 10,000 people.

The former district nurse said she began seeing dark shadows in her vision on September 9, but on September 13 realised that she was losing her vision.

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She went to see her optician at Wigram and Ware in Dersingham who told her that she had suffered a detached retina and sent her to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn.

'I went to the eye clinic and saw a very good ophthalmologist and he said that I had a detached retina and needed an operation. It was 4.45pm and the surgeon said he could not operate and told me to go home and wait until Monday. Thankfully, he phoned Mr Burton who booked me in for surgery that night.'

'By the time I got there, it had deteriorated a lot since I had left King's Lynn. I could see my eyesight disappearing minute by minute. I was terrified. If I had gone home I would have had no sight in my right eye,' she said.

Mrs Short was ferried to hospital by her husband Darrell and she was operated on at 6.30pm at the NNUH and was back home by 9.30pm. She said she was so grateful to Mr Burton.

'I was pretty scared and I was in shock that it was a local anaesthetic, and it sounds horrible to have a needle in my eye when you are conscious, but they were so good and reassuring. They made me feel so confident because I am terrified of hospitals and I was not nervous at all. They made me feel it was completely normal. I could not have been better treated had I been the Queen! Mr Burton is so dedicated and an amazing man. He should be knighted,' she said.

The NNUH carries out around 500 retina operations a year.

Mr Burton, eye surgeon, said the hospital pioneered a new eye surgery seven years ago, which meant patients did not need stitches when their retina was repaired. The procedure involved putting a cannular behind the eye to numb the area and patients were in surgery between 20 and 35 minutes.

'We were a pioneer in a new form of surgery called sutureless vitrectomy in 2006 where we make three holes in the back of the eye, but we no longer need to stitch them up, which makes it more comfortable for the patient.'

'It is not like cataract surgery where patients can see straight away. At the end of the operation, we fill the eye with an air bubble to fill up the holes of the eye and can last for two to four weeks to hold the retina in place.

'The patient is like a human spirit level and see a bubble in their eye until the bubble dissolves.'

The eye clinic at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is the busiest department at the Colney hospital, with more than 80,000 outpatient appointments every year and 12 consultants.

Mr Burton added: 'All eye surgeons have a very steady hand, but it is not as hard as it looks because everything is magnified with a microscope. It is the ultimate job for job satisfaction and we get lots of letters every week from grateful patients.'

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