A Sunbury man is urging cyclists to wear protective glasses after he almost lost the sight in one eye in a frenzied magpie attack.
Keen cyclist, Christiaan Nyssen, was riding his bike in Yarrawonga in November 2021 when a swooping magpie struck him.
Mr Nyssen usually wears sunglasses but left without them to go on the ride.
“I have been attacked countless times and don’t have a fear of the birds, but I always have glasses on,” Mr Nyssen said.
“This bird turned around and went straight for the eye, did a backflip and hit me right in the eye again. A neighbour said I was the fifth person to be attacked.”
The damaged eye had iris trauma with pupil dilation letting in too much light, leaving Mr Nyssen unable to see from that eye.
Mr Nyssen was advised to wait a few months to determine whether his eye would improve.
He decided to seek a second opinion and was referred to specialist eye surgeon Dr Elvis Ojaimi at Epworth Freemasons.
Dr Ojaimi discovered the force of the magpie strike had caused considerable damage to Mr Nyssen’s eye, including a detached retina, iris trauma and a cataract with instability.
“It required delicate surgery aided by a powerful microscope and supported by the Epworth Freemasons theatre team, to repair the retina and remove the entire lens,” Dr Ojaimi said.
Dr Ojaimi then suggested inserting a new type of intraocular lens imported from the USA, which has a prosthetic colour matched iris diaphragm, to reduce the amount of light entering the affected eye.
“It was the first time this lens had been used in Victoria. We had to get approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration to use it,” Dr Ojaimi said.
Mr Nyssen believes wearing sunglasses would have made a significant difference that day.
“The attack was one in a million injury and it caught me by surprise, but sunglasses would have made a big difference. The magpie wouldn’t have had something to aim at,” Mr Nyssen said.
The Zeiss microscope used in the surgery was funded by donors to the Epworth Medical Foundation.