"It tears like you might tear Scotch tape off a cardboard box."
Savannah Guthrie's eye doctor has provided a very promising — and toe-squirmingly descriptive — update on her recovery.
Ophthalmologist Dr. Donald D'Amico told her Today colleagues on Wednesday how he was essentially wallpapering her retina back on.
"When she sustained the injury the retina was torn. The retina lines the inside back of the eye like wallpaper, or the Teflon in a frying pan," he explained.
Guthrie was blinded — hopefully temporarily — last month when her son Charley hit her in the eye with a toy train.
"She actually from the contusion of the toy had a very big tear in the retina, and when the retina is torn, it begins to fall off and separate from the back of the eye, and you lose vision," Dr D'Amico went on.
He explained that fortunately, the tear was on the side of her eye and not the very center — "So the prospect for her central vision to be returned is very good."
To hold the flopping retina back in place, he injected and inflated a gas bubble right inside her eyeball, which presses it against the wall while it re-attaches; much like you would hold a poster to a wall after gluing it. He described how this can get trickier depending on where the tear is — like if you were trying to put a poster on the roof, you would need a helium balloon to hold it in place.
This is why Savannah mush hold her head face down for hours at a time every day while the bubble does its job, as she recently showed off in a snap.
The bubble will naturally be absorbed within six to seven days, and a laser treatment followed by a freezing treatment will provide the permanent scar that will hopefully hold the retina in place.
But while the bubble is in place, Savannah is essentially blind in that eye — "it's like being under a swimming pool and you open your eyes," Dr D'Amico said.
Savannah herself even called in via phone to say that although she'd hoped to be back in work this week, she likely would not return until after the Holidays.
"Truth is I still can't see out of that right eye, and also it looks a little weird," she said. "When the surgery was first done I looked like I was punched in the face."
While she said it sucks having to sit with her head down every day, and being forced to sleep on her stomach, she said she was delighted with the progress of her healing and D'Amico's confidence she would get her sight back.
"I don't have my vision back yet, but I'm going to get it back, everything is on track," she said.
"Savannah why don't you just go ahead and get an eye patch on and get in here, okay?' a commiserating Hoda Kotb laughed. "We're ready."
As if viewers needed one more wince-inducing description, Dr D'Amico concluded by describing exactly how the impact caused so much damage to the delicate organ.
"The eye is filled with a substance called vitreous gel, and it's attached to the retina all around," he said. "When the eye is suddenly compressed and expanded, it tears like you might tear Scotch tape off a cardboard box."
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