"It was pretty incredible," Dr. Apte said. "He just wouldn't stop talking. He was very animated and very excited. As soon as I saw him, the first thing he asked me was, 'When are we going to do surgery on the other eye?'"
He ended up seeing perfectly well in both eyes.
It was the first time Dr. Apte had thought that he should look more closely at the success rates of surgeries done on patients with Terson syndrome secondary to trauma. The idea stayed with him in the intervening years and when he had the opportunity to conduct an assessment, he did it.
This week, Dr. Apte, now a distinguished professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at Washington University School of Medicine and his colleagues from Wayne State University in Detroit and the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute in India, report in the journal Ophthalmology on 20 different patients with Terson syndrome from three different medical institutions.
In some cases, both eyes had experienced hemorrhaging and in other cases, only one eye had. In total, the researchers looked at 28 eyes. They also divided the patients into two groups: those who'd had the vitrectomy within three months and those who'd had surgery after three months.
RELATED: 3 Ways We Could Restore Sight To The Blind
Some were legally blind prior to the surgery as a result of their injuries, but within a month of the procedure, had regained their vision. After a few months later, almost everyone had 20/20 vision. Dr. Apte stressed that the surgery won't return vision to patients who had vision loss from unrelated reasons before an accident.
Overall, the analysis was reassuring, Dr. Apte said. "Even if you have to wait for the surgery for several months, the outcomes were still good."
That information is useful to doctors counseling a patient about whether or not to undergo surgery.
The study is also important neurologists and neurosurgeons, who see brain trauma patients in the early stages of treatment. Knowing that bleeding in the brain can lead to Terson syndrome, which can lead to blindness could help establish a new protocol for calling in an ophthalmologist.
Ten years ago, that did not happen, when Dr. Apte met the young graduate student that lead to this research project.
He hasn't seen that man in years. "But that's a good sign, right? It means he doesn't need me anymore."