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Earl Watson, Guard for the UCLA Bruins


Inner eye injuries are diagnosed by ocular exam. Doctors will examine the eye and search around the retina looking for inconsistencies, tears, and holes. Tears to ora are often quite difficult to find because doctors must peer almost perpendicularly into the eye. These exams are done using lights that enable the doctor to see into the eye and look very closely at the retina, pupil, lens, and ora of the eye.


The standard treatment for minor defects in the retina is laser surgery. It works because the microscopic beams of light are shined into the eye, and are picked up by the pigments behind the retina. This controlled welding bonds the retina and the wall of the eye. Over about two months, the laser treatment develops into an "elegant little scar" that prevents the retina from detaching further. If the retina does detach completely, it can no longer be treated using laser surgery. In this case, incisional surgery is necessary to reflatten the retina because the pigment of the retina will not pick up the laser unless it is firmly in place against the back of the eye. The laser surgery is mainly a preventive procedure, protecting the eye from future injuries that would occur more easily if the eye were already damaged.


There is no way to specifically prevent this type of injury. However, the use of face shields, goggles, masks, and helmets decreases the chance of a foreign object reaching the eye and, therefore, decrease the risk of injury. There has been recent debate as to whether all hockey players should be forced to wear face shields due to the career-threatening injury that Bryan Berard recently suffered.


Laser surgery is quite amazing because it requires no active recovery. The treated area will heal itself over about 2 months, and there are no post-surgery restrictions or even exercises. It is a procedure that has been made possible due to technological advances. It is remarkably accurate and has a very high success rate.


Watson should suffer no future ill effects from the injury. Due to the surgery, he will probably suffer from a minor distortion of a small portion of his peripheral vision, but this will be small enough that he will probably not notice. This distortion will gradually clear up, and the eye will continue to heal.


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