Chico man has a new outlook on life after vision loss

May 19, 2016 12:46 PM by News Staff

A Chico man regained his vision after being blinded during surgery following a traumatic heart episode.

Daniel Paxton was spending a fun-filled day with his daughter at Heart Attack Go-cart Racing when suddenly something went wrong.

"I had a pain under my chin down to my chest and I couldn't stand up," Paxton said.

Paxton said the pain was excruciating, doctors at Enloe Medical Center found an aneurism ruptured in his chest. The surgery took 11 hours.

"When I woke up from a 4-day induced coma and asked my wife to turn the lights on, that's when I realized that I had no vision," Paxton said.

The swelling during surgery caused a stroke to his optic nerve.

"This is a very rare condition less than 1 in 10,000 surgeries have this happen,” said Dr. J. Isaac Barthelow, Paxton’s ophthalmologist. “It's the first time in my career that I’ve seen this."

Barthelow said there was no clear cut medical solution that would give Paxton his sight back.

"I thought a medicine that would lower the pressure in his eye but my main job for Dan was to be his cheerleader in a sense. It's a terrifying thing to wake up and not be able to see," he said.

Paxton took his recovery one day at a time.

"It was one of those things that's out of your control,” Paxton said. “I think I handled it pretty well."

Without his vision, Paxton had to relearn how to live day-to-day.

“You fill up a cup of coffee with your finger in it, i tune in more with my hearing," Paxton said.

Paxton said while he accepted the situation, he never gave up hope of eventually regaining his eyesight in the past month, things began to change.

"I started getting contrasts,” he said. “My left eye it's kind of like looking through straw."

"He came in and he could see,” Barthelow said. “Everyone in our office broke down, it was an incredible moment."

While medicine helped reduce the swelling, Barthelow said it took courage and faith to undergo the course of treatments with no guaranteed payoff.

"Trying to make sure that he didn't lose hope was just as important as any medical treatment we could have done," he said.

"I can make out my children’s' faces now,” Paxton said. “It's just a blessing."


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