Author: Kelsey M of Wisconsin
Breed: Shih Tzu
Surgery date: n/a (UW Madison vets advised against having retina surgery done at Eye Care for Animals)
We first learned of Kelsey and Chester from the Facebook page for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Veterinary Hospital. In the spring of 2016, we brought Peanut to Madison to be treated for heart disease. We later went to their Facebook page to post a pic of Peanut to show how well he was doing. While browsing various reviews, we came across Kelsey’s review of the ophthalmology team at the UW. She wrote:
“I brought my shih-tzu mix to the ophthalmology team and they took wonderful care of him. Dr. Lewin and the team did an excellent job explaining treatment options for his torn retina, answering all of my questions and scheduling surgery. The billing clerks and receptionists are all very kind as well. I highly recommend UW Vet Care and will be bringing Chester in for follow up eye care.”
Obviously we were interested to know if Kelsey had considered having retina reattachment surgery. So we reached out to her and asked what had transpired. Her response absolutely blew us away (for reasons that will be made clear below):
Chester’s retina was completely detached. The doctors said it looked like a towel that was hanging loosely over a door knob (the retina being the towel and the door knob being the optic nerve). The detachment had brought on glaucoma and his sclera looked brownish/discolored..He also had a slight cataract on that eye.
The doctors said that any surgery to try to reattach it would most likely fail since it was so detached. So that left me with the option to attempt to use eye drops to bring the glaucoma/pressure down (for how long, who would know…) or have the eye removed.
I scheduled enucleation surgery for the following week. I did not want to test out different eye drops that might only work for awhile. I didn’t want Chester to have to wear a cone any longer. I just wanted my dog to be back to his normal self.
The week after surgery was very long. Chester wanted to scratch out his stitches and he would thrash his head around trying to remove the cone and scratch the wound. Thankfully after 10 days he had his stitches removed and now he is back to normal.
When I took him in to have his stitches removed, I talked more with the doctors about his future. Since it is genetic, the same thing could happen to the other eye. They essentially told me that I could bring him in and they could check the remaining eye at any time to see if there is any detachment happening. If they could catch it soon enough, there would be a possibility of lasering the area to try to prevent any additional damage – however, that surgery in itself can cause more detachment. So basically bringing him in to monitor the eye is more for the peace of mind of the owner — You could have him checked every 3 months, but if the retina tore right after your appointment and you don’t know/notice until after your dog visibly begins losing his sight… that might be too late.
They mentioned a clinic in IL that they had referred a patient to, and it ended terribly 🙁
The entire experience is very disheartening, as there does not seem to be anything with a high success rate that can be done. I made another appointment with the vet in September to monitor his eye — basically for my own reassurance.”
There can only be one “clinic in IL” that the vets at the UW referenced in talking with Kelsey. And that clinic is Eye Care for Animals. This is because there is no other place in Illinois where a retina reattachment surgery could be performed. And any other type of procedure would be performed at the UW Madison. NOTE: The UW like every other teaching hospital in America does NOT perform retina reattachment surgery. (And that says a great deal about the surgery itself.)
We have reached out to the ophthalmologist at the UW who told Kelsey about their client’s terrible experience at Eye Care for Animals. We hope the doctor will share our contact info so that their client can tell his/her story on this site. We know that it helps the healing process when we can connect with others who pursued a surgery out of love expecting a high probability of success…only to have had their hopes dashed. If we hear more, we’ll share the story on this site.