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Lee Jones, Freda Sii, David P Crabb, Peter Shah; ‘Am I going to be able to see when the patch comes off?’ Patient experiences of undergoing only eye surgery. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(9):1765.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Patients with advanced eye disease requiring surgery on their better-seeing or ‘only eye’ will likely face exceptional challenges in their treatment journey. The aim of this study was to investigate the realities of only eye surgery from the patients’ perspective. We were interested to learn how patients cope before, during, and after surgery and to explore how the surgical journey can be improved.
Using purposive sampling, eleven patients (Female = 4; median age = 59 [interquartile range = 52, 66] years) with experience of surgery on their only seeing eye were invited to take part in a 30-minute semi-structured interview. Interviews were conducted by a health psychologist and qualitative analysis of the transcripts was carried out using a thematic approach. Key themes were identified based on the coded interview transcripts.
A number of codes were identified and three key themes emerged. First, for the emotional impact of surgery, participants described fear of further visual loss and blindness, anxiety relating to the procedure itself, concerns over their ability to maintain responsibilities and activities of daily living, and worry over the possibility of surgical failure. Immediate post-operative period was frequently reported to be particularly distressing. Second, participants described a number of coping strategies which have helped them manage their condition, including finding practical support, such as help to locate and instil eye drops, emotional support from friends and family, and a good relationship with their care team. Third, a number of suggestions for improving the only eye patient surgical journey were identified, including the need for greater empathy and a more holistic approach from the surgical care team. Practical suggestions to relieve surgical anxiety included environmental changes and extended hospital visiting hours.
Surgery on an only seeing eye is a significant event for patients with advanced eye disease. This study is the first to highlight aspects of the surgical journey which are of particular concern for patients, and provides insight into how only eye patients cope with the anxieties of these high-stakes procedures. The findings may help inform patients, their carers, and clinicians about the realities of only eye surgery, the challenges to overcome, and potential strategies for effective coping and service delivery.
This abstract was presented at the 2019 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Vancouver, Canada, April 28 - May 2, 2019.
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