Man left blind in one eye after simple surgery

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2012, 12:00am


A struggling lone father has gone blind in one eye after a simple surgical procedure.

Lau Hoi-lun, 28, has had exophthalmos, a bulging of the eye triggered by thyroid problems, since he was 18. On February 9 he underwent orbital decompression surgery to relieve pressure on his left eye at Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital, Tai Po. He was told the operation had gone smoothly and the risks of serious problems were slim.

However, when he returned to hospital on February 23 so that the doctor in charge, Dr Kelvin Chong Kam-lung, could remove his stitches, Lau found that his left eye could see only grey light and he was left with just 1 per cent vision.

Lau said stitches were usually removed after a week, but he believed his stayed in longer only because Chong was away on business in the United States. 'If they could have removed the stitches and spotted the problem earlier, 40 or 50 per cent of my vision could have been saved, which is good enough. But not like now, I cannot see at all,' Lau said.

A Hospital Authority spokeswoman said the surgery was not to blame and Lau's eyesight problem was due to an optic nerve infection related to posterior ischemic optic neuropathy, or pion. Pion was a known but rare risk of orbital decompression surgery, she said.

She said Lau was receiving steroid treatment at Nethersole. He was also advised to receive acupuncture at the Eye Hospital. Lau, who earns a living by delivering frozen meat and teaching classical guitar, said he was looking after his two-year-old son alone after his wife left recently.

Dr Hunter Yuen Kwok-lai, a consultant at the Eye Hospital, said the chance of getting pion was less than 1 per cent.