English Corner

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In this tenth English corner, you will find a contribution dealing with ophthalmology. We would like to remind you that our aim is not to teach medicine but to familiarize readers with medical English as used by professionals and patients.

English Corner

Dr Webster: So, how did it happen?

Mr Lenster: Well, I was playing tennis at my club, and my partner played a smash which hit me smack in the right eye. This was yesterday afternoon.

Dr Webster: I see, and did you experience any visual symptoms?

Mr Lenster: Yes - first, I saw sort of flashing lights in the corner of my eye, and then later on there were lots of dark spots a bit like cobwebs, and then this morning, there was like a cloudy halo covering about a quarter of my field of vision. That’s why I decided to come to the emergency department.

Dr Webster: Right – and how clearly can you see now with your injured eye? Can you read the chart behind me, for example?

Mr Lenster: Yes, I can read the first two lines, but that’s all, I’m afraid.

Dr Webster: It sounds as though you may have retinal detachment; I’ll just check with the ophthalmoscope. I’m going to put some eye drops in your eye to dilate the pupil.

Mr Lenster: Is it serious?

Dr Webster: Depends, I’ll have to do the examination first to see the extent of the detachment. Well, there is a tear in the upper part of the retina and there is some detachment. Fortunately, it’s not too extensive, so I’m going to use a scleral buckle. It’s a procedure that takes between one and two hours and it can be done under local anaesthesia, but we recommend general anaesthesia, because it can be long and rather unpleasant. In any case you’ll be in and out within the day, and the sooner we do it, the better.

Mr Lenster: What does it involve?

Dr Webster: It’s quite straightforward, really – first we have to suture a silicone band to the outside of your eye, the sclera, and then we insert a small piece of plastic under the band to indent the sclera at the site of the tear. This will push out the liquid that’s separating the retina from the underlying membrane. Then, we use a cryotherapy probe to fix the two layers together.

Mr Lenster: It sounds quite complicated to me. What happens after the operation?

Dr Webster: Don’t expect a miracle – it may take a month or two to see the final result as far as your vision is concerned, and we won’t know until then how successful the surgery has been. There may be some pain during the first few days and you’ll have to wear an eyepatch. You’ll have to use eye drops for about 6 weeks to avoid infection. You should avoid any strenuous activity for a few days and make sure someone can come and pick you up at the hospital after the operation, because you won’t be able to drive and may find it difficult to even walk.

 Mr Lenster: Right, doctor. When can you do the operation?

Dr Webster: Can you come in tomorrow morning at 9:00?

Mr Lenster: Yes, That’ll be fine. Thank you.



Exercise 1. Find in the text a word or expression (in bold) equivalent to the words or expressions below:

  1. atteint
  2. cerclage scléral / plissement scléral
  3. collyre
  4. coque oculaire
  5. couches
  6. déchirure
  7. effort intense
  8. en plein dans
  9. heureusement
  10. on dirait que
  11. simple
  12. sonde
  13. sous-jacente
  14. supérieure
  15. taches
  16. toile d’arraignée
  17. trouble
  18. venir vous chercher 



  1. atteint : injured
  2. cerclage scléral / plissement scléral : scleral bucklinng
  3. collyre : eyedrops
  4. coque oculaire : eyepatch
  5. couches : layers
  6. déchirure : tear
  7. effort intense : strenuous activity
  8. en plein dans : smack in
  9. heureusement : fortunately
  10. on dirait que : it sounds as though
  11. simple : straightforward
  12. sonde : probe
  13. sous-jacente : underlying
  14. supérieure : upper
  15. taches : spots
  16. toile d’arraignée : cobweb
  17. trouble : cloudy
  18. venir vous chercher : come and pick you up
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