Weather Forecast


Zimmer's retinal surgery has 90 percent success rate

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. File photo

MINNEAPOLIS—Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was wise to go easy on his right eye and sit out Thursday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys, said a Twin Cities specialist in retina problems.

Dr. Minhee Cho, an ophthalmologist at Park Nicollet in St. Louis Park, routinely does retinal surgeries — "It's our bread and butter," she said — and while she doesn't know Zimmer's case specifically, she reassures Vikings fans of the 90 percent success rate of such surgeries.

Depending on the type of type of surgery, she said, it's best to give the eye a rest for about a week. So no game tonight for Zimmer, no matter the stakes and the foe.

"That's understandable that they want him to rest up," Cho said.

Patients who undergo surgery on the retina — the nerve layer of the eye that senses light and sends messages to the brain — need to limit their eye movement or even their head movement for a week. That means as little reading as possible, including those little circles and arrows football players use.

When he returns to the job, Zimmer could wear a patch if vision in his right eye is still blurry. That could be super awesome if they could play, say, the Raiders or the Buccaneers, but alas they won't be.

When recovering from retinal surgery, vision can be compromised for a week, Cho said. Surgery involves sealing the retina to the rear eye wall by creating scar tissue, either by freezing or burning with laser, according to the American Academy of Opthalmology. An additional gas bubble treatment, which pushes the retina back against the wall of the eye, requires patients to hold their heads in certain positions for several days, the AAO says.

Cho said this is a good opportunity for public education about retinal damage and getting help right away when symptoms arise, such as seeing flashing lights, dark spots and floaters.

"With detachments and tears, the sooner you could come in, the better," she said.

Blindness certainly can result if you don't get treatment.

Zimmer scratched his eye during an Oct. 31 loss at Chicago; had that not happened, he might not have discovered the problem.

"It's probably a good thing that I scratched my eye during the game," Zimmer said then. "Otherwise, I may not have caught it in time. But hopefully everything will be all right."