Brain Tumor Discovered
Regular exams can detect serious problems
By Tom Nugent, Staywell Custom Communications
Ask VSP network doctor, Dan Carver, O.D., to tell you how he's helped his patients over the years by coordinating their care with other medical doctors, and this friendly optometrist will respond by telling you this amazing story as an example.
Dr. Carver's saga begins early in his career in his practice in Fountain Valley, California.
"It was supposed to have been a routine eye exam," Dr. Carver recalls today. "But when I tested this particular patient's peripheral (side) vision, I was surprised by what I found.
"During the peripheral vision test, I discovered that my patient, a sixty year-old aerospace engineer, had completely lost the outer half-field of vision in each eye. In other words, he had blindness in the right half of his right eye and the left half of his left eye.
"But because his brain compensated for this partial loss of sight with the remaining intact visual field, the patient wasn't aware of his impairment".
As Dr. Carver studied his patient's visual field loss, he became increasingly concerned. "I knew immediately his vision loss was consistent with a likely tumor in the pituitary gland — a mass that often results in this kind of partial blindness."
After reviewing his findings, the optometrist quickly referred the engineer to an appropriate team of specialists, including a neurologist, a neurosurgeon and an oncologist. They confirmed the presence of a large pituitary gland tumor and successfully removed it with surgery.
Fortunately, the patient recovered and went on to live a healthy, vigorous life for the next five years, while Dr. Carver successfully co-managed his on-going care with the neurologist. But then the tumor reappeared about five years later and was discovered again by the California optometrist during a regular, yearly eye exam.
Once again, Dr. Carver referred his patient to the team of specialists, who performed a second operation. The aerospace engineer again sailed through the procedure.
"As an eye doctor, I was honored to have been part of the team that gave my patient so many years of good health. I am grateful that on both occasions when the tumor struck, I was able to catch it through an eye exam and refer him to the appropriate specialists for treatment," said Dr. Carver.
"I can't think of a better example of how patients can benefit from regular eye examinations and coordinated care involving other health professionals."