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10-minute eye surgery brings lifetime benefits

May 29, 2018 | UCI Health
steve kirby driving his car
Steve Kirby's double vision was worsening when Gavin Herbert Eye Institute specialists told him that there was a simple fix.

Steve Kirby’s vision had been growing blurrier for years, but his eye doctor kept telling him there was no problem.

His double vision finally got so bad that he had trouble driving at night. If he saw a car ahead of him in the next lane, his double vision would make it appear as though there was an identical car in his own lane.

Diagnosis: a weakened nerve

Kirby was eventually referred to UCI Health Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, where neuro-ophthalmologist Dr. Robert W. Crow diagnosed a weakened sixth nerve affecting the muscle in his left eye, caused by inadequate blood flow.

This nerve makes it possible for the eye to turn toward the outer corner. As a result of the weakness, Kirby’s eye had turned inward slightly.

The difference was imperceptible to the casual observer, but enough to wreak havoc with his vision.

Watch and wait, then surgery

Dr. Chantal Boisvert would perform surgery to fix the problem, but first she tracked Kirby for several months.

Often the condition, which can be caused by a variety of factors, reverses itself. That didn’t happen for Kirby.

“We had to bring his eye back to the normal position,” Boisvert said.

Because the weakened muscle connects to the eyeball, all that was required, Boisvert said, was a small cut to change its position.

‘A simple fix’

“We cut a little piece of muscle and moved it forward on the eyeball,” she said. “The muscle is stronger as a result.”

Many people with the same eye problem as Kirby go years without realizing there is such a simple fix, she said.

“It basically takes 10 minutes. It’s very, very easy, safe and straightforward. What I did for him was not much, but it changed his life.”

Kirby agrees. “It took me longer to get dressed and undressed than to get the surgery,” he said.

“My vision was perfect from the very first moment after I woke up and opened my eyes.”

Kirby, a Dove Canyon resident who owns an auto-parts firm, is thrilled, not just with the results, but with the attention, precision and care shown by his doctors. That impressed him so much that he made a donation to the institute.

“The atmosphere, just the whole vibe about the place,” he said. “Dr. Boisvert, this is her passion. These are some very special people in the field.”

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