TORONTO - Kyle Okposo could get back in the lineup as soon as Tuesday night, provided he is cleared by the Islanders' medical staff.
Considering where he was on Jan. 20 -- wondering if he'd ever be able to see out of his left eye again as he prepared for emergency surgery to repair a detached retina -- everything now is positive.
"It was really scary,'' Okposo told Newsday on Monday night during the Islanders' game against the Maple Leafs. "I had some blurry vision after the Philly game [on Jan. 19]. I was driving home to my daughter's [first] birthday party and I knew something was wrong.
"That whole night, it didn't get better. So I went in, saw the retina specialist right away and he said, 'You have a detached retina and we need to do surgery right away.' It was pretty scary and there wasn't a guarantee I was going to see again. You definitely stop and pause after you hear that.''
Immediately after the surgery, Okposo said the specialist waved a hand in front of his repaired eye and asked if he could see the hand. "I could, very faintly,'' he said. "So that was a good sign. But you have to wait.''
Okposo couldn't watch television and couldn't play with his daughter that first week. And the Islanders lost four of six out of the All-Star break, making his inactivity even more frustrating.
But Okposo slowly worked back into off-ice conditioning, then got back on the ice eight days ago and rejoined the team Friday. His level of conditioning surprised the coaches, so much so that he actually could be in the lineup Tuesday night against the Rangers at the Coliseum.
"I felt great. Ever since I stepped on the ice, I haven't had any hesitations,'' he said. "I wasn't really surprised, because your eye should theoretically be stronger than the other one after the surgery. I've been feeling really good on the ice.''
Okposo said his natural eyesight is poor and that he was told it likely made him prone to a detached retina, but he added that something happened in a game before that Jan. 19 win over the Flyers to cause the injury.
As a preventive measure, the eye surgeon did some work on his right eye, too. "They did some treatment in the other eye because it was headed along the same path,'' he said. "It's all been a bit of a whirlwind, but I can see, and soon I'll be able to play.''