MEDICAL SPOTLIGHT: Quick, Skilled Action By Dr. David Neely Restores Frances ‘Bunny’ Cummings’ Sight
By Space Coast Daily // March 9, 2019
Florida Retina Specialists provides comprehensive medical and surgical retinal eye care
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: With two locations serving Brevard, Florida Retina Specialists provides comprehensive medical and surgical retinal eye care. Dr. Frank Venzara III and Dr. David Neely recently spoke with Space Coast Daily’s Gina Liberto about their backgrounds, practice and the specific conditions they treat.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – After yoga class a couple of months ago, Frances “Bunny” Cummings noticed that her right eye was hosting an unexpected and wild dance party of “floaters,” those annoying small specks that drift in and out of our field of vision.
Cummings shrugged them off as part of life since last year her left eye had gone through the same symptoms and eventually went back to normal.
In truth, eye floaters are usually no cause for worry and don’t typically interfere with vision.
In Cummings’ case, however, this was no mere floater. Walking out of a store, the Mims resident suddenly experienced a disconcerting vision loss.
“I really don’t know what happened, but the floaters exploded and I couldn’t see,” she said. “I went completely blind.”
Cummings was afraid her retina had detached.
Medical professionals advise patients that in such instances when a retinal detachment may be suspected, time is of the essence and an emergency trip to the eye doctor is the right thing to do, because the outcome is optimized if any possible retinal detachment is repaired before the macula, the center region of the retina that controls detailed vision, is compromised.
Fortunately, Cummings acted quickly, consulting Titusville ophthalmologist Dr. Nicholas Pefkaros, who had performed lens replacement surgery on her to combat cataracts she had developed some time ago.
She was immediately referred to Dr. David Neely at Florida Retina Specialists, who operates practices in Merritt Island and Rockledge.
Dr. Neely immediately went to work to correct the issue, but not before reassuring Cummings that everything was going to be fine and that she had done the right thing in seeking help without delay.
SERVING PATIENTS IS A PASSION
Cummings was indeed in good hands because for Dr. Neely, serving patients is a life-long passion.
He earned his medical degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine before heading to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for an internship in general surgery.
He completed his residency at Callahan Eye Hospital at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he served as chief resident.
He furthered his specialty training with a fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery at Retina Consultants of Alabama and at UAB. He is an active member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Retina Specialists.
Cummings was afraid a piece of her retina might have torn off. After conducting a series of tests, Dr. Neely assuaged her fears.
“He explained that he didn’t see a tear or evidence of a stroke, but that still didn’t mean that everything was fine,” she explained.
“He went over everything, the good and the bad.”
While there were no apparent tears to Cummings’ retina, there was an overabundance of blood in the eye. Surgery was required.
Right before Christmas, Dr. Neely performed the procedure, known as a pars plana vitrectomy. Three incisions were placed in the eye and the blood was removed with a cutting/suction device.
The eye was pressurized with saline solution during the procedure as the hemorrhage was removed. Once all the blood was removed there was no signs of a retinal tear or detachment and the retina appeared very healthy.
“A vitreous hemorrhage, or bleed, results in a sudden change in vision as it blocks light moving through the vitreous to the retina,” said Dr. Neely.
“A vitreous hemorrhage may be the result of an aneurysm of a blood vessel in the eye, trauma to the eye, a retinal tear, a retinal detachment, a new blood vessel (neo-vascularization) or as a result of another underlying disease state. Diabetics are particularly susceptible because the disease triggers the growth of new blood vessels within the eye.
“The vessels are weak and bleed easily. This is why blindness is a concern for patients suffering from diabetes. Vitreous hemorrhage occurs more frequently in patients over 50 but can occur at any age. Initial treatment may be observation alone. Minor hemorrhages often clot and resolve on their own over time. Unfortunately, it may take months for full visual recovery from a vitreous hemorrhage.”
After successful surgery, Cummings’ eye is back to normal and she is back to her routine, which includes golf, yoga and plenty of sewing.
“I like to make quilts, which requires a lot of closeup eye work,” she said.
Regaining her vision was the best Christmas gift Cummings could have received, particularly this year when is awaiting the arrival of twin great-grandchildren.
“I can’t praise Dr. Neely enough,” she said.
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