Some of our services have changed due to COVID-19. Click here for details

26 July 2021

Garage owner instantly blinded by 3.5mm piece of metal has vision restored thanks to specialist eye team at Sheffield Hospitals

A garage owner who was instantly blinded when a 3.5mm piece of metal penetrated his right eye is thanking specialist eye teams at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals for helping him regain his vision 17 months after being told he would probably lose his sight.

Lee Rodger, who lives in Immingham, was in his car workshop in March 2020 when a piece of metal from a chisel struck his right eye as he walked past one of his colleagues who was working on a car. The split-second injury was instantly devastating – immediately causing him to lose his vision.

Realising it was a bad injury, Lee was taken to the nearest A&E and subsequently transferred to Sheffield’s Hallamshire Hospital Eye Unit. The 46-year-old was then given the devastating news that the odds of saving his eye, let alone restoring his vision, were slim. He underwent a three-hour operation to remove the metal from his eye, with his surgeon skilfully attempting to secure his retina (the thin layer at the back of the eye), which along with his cornea (the protective front layer of the eye), had sustained significant damage. His damaged natural lens was also removed, and a special oil was used to temporarily fill the eye.

“It was really devastating. There was the initial trauma and then apprehension about living with this life-changing injury. I play golf, fish, race cars and it was just ticking round in my brain that I wouldn’t be able to do these things again.”

Having lost the use of one eye, Lee’s peripheral vision had completely gone, making it difficult to do everyday things.

“I had no perception of depth curves. I had to relearn even simple things like walking down steps. Ultimately I was scared and a little part of me was angry too. That piece of metal could have hit me anywhere, my cheek, my nose, but it hit my eye instead. But the specialist services at Sheffield made all the difference, night and day.”

Another two major eye operations were performed on his eye, to remove the oil and scar tissue that had formed whilst further securing the retina with laser, then finally to insert a new artificial lens.

Miraculously, Lee regained 6/6 (20/20) vision after his third operation, and has maintained close to it since. He is among the few people who have successfully had their sight almost fully restored following a penetrating eye injury with an impact site so close to the centre of vision.

“From the minute I arrived in Sheffield everything changed,” added Lee, who spent a week setting alarms to take daily eye drops, antibiotics and looking face down towards the floor, morning to bedtime, to encourage his retina to reattach to his eye.

“The team knew what to do and when they were going to do it. I was in the right place and in specialist hands. When I started regaining my sight, I could literally see how unbelievably steady my surgeon’s hand was. My pandemic story has been different from others, all the emphasis has been on my recovery, but the team at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals have been absolutely fantastic and I am forever in their debt.”

Mr Siddharth Subramani, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Vitreoretinal Surgeon at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Penetrating and perforating eye injuries affect dozens of adults and children every year in and around Sheffield. Lee suffered a really horrific injury, which often results in significant vision loss or blindness, sometimes even complete loss of the eye. We are delighted that his vision is now restored as he has been a fantastic patient who followed all the instructions, which alongside multiple complex surgeries performed gave him the best opportunity to regain his sight. It would not have been possible without our specialist vitreoretinal nursing team and admin team who do an amazing job coordinating our emergencies, and our management who ensure we have the latest technology and best equipment here in Sheffield. It allows my colleagues and I to devote our full attention on patient management including complex surgery such as these where we aim to achieve the best outcomes possible.”

Miss Zanna Currie, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Clinical Director for Ophthalmology at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Mr Siddharth Subramani and the team have worked exceptionally hard throughout the pandemic to ensure that our patients have continued to benefit from our specialist services. Retinal detachment surgery is a difficult and demanding procedure where a gas bubble or silicone oil is used to support the retina whilst healing takes place, so we are delighted that Lee now has his vision restored.”

Inspired by his surgeon, who himself is a pilot, Lee is now planning to take his first ever flying lessons.

“I have dark brown eyes, and you couldn’t tell what happened to me by looking at me now, my eyes aren’t bloodshot or yellow,” Lee added.

And the offending item? Lee says it’s hung up on the wall in the reception in his garage so customers can see.


Photos (top left to bottom right): Lee today, the damaged eye after his second surgery, in hospital after his 3rd surgery, Lee at home 3 days after his accident where he recalls he wasn’t in a good place, with his “strength” his wife Gemma, his eye healing after his second surgery, the offending object

Penetrating eye traumas are more common than you might think. Here’s what you should do.

  • Seek emergency help immediately.
  • Do not attempt to remove, touch or manipulate the penetrating object yourself as this may damage the eye further. If you wear contact lenses, do attempt to remove the lens.




Go back
Rate this page: