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The Gift of Sight Restored

When he closed his eyes for a quick cat nap, 74-year-old John Hannon of East Northport, NY, never anticipated the scare he’d have when he woke up. Mr. Hannon had suddenly gone blind.

After being rushed to a local hospital from a nursing home in Huntington, NY, Mr. Hannon was quickly diagnosed with central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO) – a blockage in one of the small arteries that carries blood to the retina, resulting in sudden painless vision loss. The physician there recommended that Mr. Hannon be transferred to Winthrop-University Hospital, where he was immediately evaluated by Scott Gorenstein, MD, FACEP, Clinical Director of the Hyperbaric Medicine Program at Winthrop.

Dr. Gorenstein, who is widely recognized for his expertise in limb salvage and treatment of osteomyelitis, recommended that Mr. Hannon undergo emergency Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). Though traditionally used to treat wounds that have resisted standard wound care – such as diabetic leg and foot ulcers, wounds that have been skin grafted and not healed completely, and those caused by radiation therapy – in Mr. Hannon’s case, HBOT had the potential to be vision saving.


Among the members Winthrop-University Hospital’s Wound Program Team are (l.-r.) Alan A. Katz, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, Attending Physician in the Emergency Department; Harold Brem, MD, FACS, Chief of the Division of Wound Healing and Regenerative Medicine; and Scott Gorenstein, MD, FACEP, Clinical Director of The Wound Healing Center.

“In some CRAO cases, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can reverse vision loss if the treatment is administered early enough. The increased partial pressure of oxygen enables the entire retina to be oxygenated to stop further damage and restore blood flow, resulting in improved vision and visual acquity,” said Dr. Gorenstein.

During HBOT, the patient breathes 100 percent oxygen while reclining in a pressurized chamber. Inhaling pure oxygen allows greater amounts of oxygen (up to 10 times more than what is possible while breathing oxygen at sea level pressure) to be absorbed into the bloodstream and then carried to body tissues. Upon completing a total of five two-hour sessions of HBOT at Winthrop, Mr. Hannon’s vision was completely restored.

“It was a gift from God!” said Mr. Hannon. “I am deeply grateful to everyone who helped bring me back to good health, and especially to Dr. Gorenstein for saving my eyesight.”

“What makes Dr. Gorenstein’s outcomes so exceptional are not only his tireless, dedicated efforts to helping patients, but his unique brilliance in understanding oxygen physiology in many complex cases,” said Harold Brem, MD, FACS, Chief of the Division of Wound Healing and Regenerative Medicine at Winthrop- University Hospital.

Mr. Hannon’s experience is just one example of the exemplary care that is available to patients through the Wound Healing Center and Hyperbaric Medicine Program at Winthrop. Here, clinicians who are solely dedicated to wound care work in a collaborative manner across multiple specialties to provide patients with personalized, around-the-clock care. The Center is more than an outpatient facility – it also includes hyperbaric and surgical departments, an inpatient unit, and a research hub.

“At Winthrop-University Hospital, we have a multi-specialty group that is able to care for almost any patient,” said Dr. Gorenstein. “No matter how sick or complicated his or her medical problems are, we are using the most advanced modalities and scientifically based therapies to give patients effective options.”

The Wound Healing Center and Hyperbaric Medicine Program at Winthrop-University Hospital is accredited by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS). For more information, visit www.winthrop.org or call 1-866-WINTHROP.

Vol. 22, No. 3
Winter 2012

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