I had a Pterygium (small growth) removed from right eye in January 2008. When I went home the same day Dr. Danny K. Lee the eye surgeon asked that I return the following week. He gave me four eye drops that included an antibiotic and cortizone (Pred Forte 1 % prednisone acetate).
A week later Dr. Lee said since I was doing well to use the antibiotic for a week and the cortizone for a month. My two week follow up appointment was rescheduled. The doctor canceled the first and I was unable to make the second.
Except for a new droopy eyelid my right eye seemed to be doing fine.
I saw Dr. Lee two months later. We were stunned to learn the pressure in my right eye had increased from 12 to 36. He apologized for not seeing me earlier. He said this was a medical emergency because without treatment I could go blind. Normal eye pressure should not be above 20. He explained that the cortizone drops can cause an increase in eye pressure but it usually drops when the medication is discontinued. “This has not happened to me before,” he said with concern. He prescribed drops (Combigan 0.2% -0.5% ) for the high eye pressure (glaucoma) and asked me to return in a week. My eye pressure was 22 a week later. We were relieved the pressure had decreased. The surgeon prescribed a different eye drop (Alphagan 0.1% brimonidine tartrate).
Since there was a glaucoma specialist closer to my home I changed to Dr. Harvey Dubiner a glaucoma specialist at “The Eye Care Centers” in Morrow, GA. Because the pressure in my right eye fluctuated between 18 and 22 and my left eye’s pressure was 12 Dr. Dubiner kept me on the Alphagan eye drops. Both doctors were concerned about my droopy eyelid and thought I’d need surgery.
After four months I returned to Dr. Dubiner with redness, discomfort, swelling and blurred vision in my right eye. His nurse said she thought I was having a reaction to the Alphagan eye drops as the drug has a reputation for severe side effects. Dr. Dubiner dismissed the nurse’s concern and gave me a second eye drop (Xibron (bromfenac) 0.9%) to take with the Alphagan. A week later my eye was extremely painful and swollen. Shaken the doctor referred me to Dr. Doyle R. Stulting a cornea eye specialist at the Emory Clinic, Atlanta, GA who suspected my cornea was reacting to the Alphagan and removed all medications. My eye and the droopy eyelid immediately began to improve.
When I returned to Dr. Dubiner four months later the pressure in my right was 13 and I no longer had a droopy eyelid. My ten-month eye ordeal was over. What a relief to have a normal right eye again without medication.
When I showed Dr. Dubiner a picture of my swollen eye, the one he’d seen four months ago, he scoffed, “Our clinic has helped develop the Alphagan drops. I’ve seen a lot worse side effect here than that.” I was shocked. I could not believe what I was hearing. Was he really using patients for clinical trails without consent? I, unfortunately, didn’t have the presence of mind to ask.
What scares me is one-hundred-thousand (1in 10) Americans died from medical errors in the U.S. in 2007. It’s the third leading cause of death after heart disease (1 in 5) and cancer (1 in 7).