WINDSOR, England -- The operation on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's right eye was a 'total success,' the doctor who performed the surgery said today.
The operation to reattach the damaged retina of her right eye was carried out Wednesday under general anesthetic at a private clinic in Windsor, 20 miles west of London.
The address of the hospital was at first kept secret at Mrs. Thatcher's request because she considers her health a private matter, but the press found out where she was staying and the surgeon then talked briefly to reporters.
'I would say the operation has been totally successful,' said surgeon Richard Packer who today saw the prime minister for 15 minutes.
The prime minister spent a quiet night and was in a 'cheerful mood,' he said. She should be able to leave the Princess Christian hospital near Windsor Castle within a few days.
Government officials said Mrs. Thatcher, 57, would continue to run the government while recovering and would keep in touch by telephone. Parliament is in recess for the summer so her workload is lighter than usual. She still hoped to take a two-week vacation in Switzerland next week as scheduled.
Lord William Whitelaw, deputy leader of the Conservative Party, was standing by in case he was needed to take over her day-to-day duties, but a spokesman at No. 10 Downing Street emphasized the prime minister remained in charge.
If untreated, retina detachment can lead to blindness, experts said. Mrs. Thatcher, known for her stamina, had played down the seriousness of her injury since her office disclosed she had a 'minor abrasion' in her right eye Monday.
It was not until Wednesday that her spokesmen revealed she had undergone unsuccessful laser treatment Sunday to repair the tiny tear in the retina, which had become partially detached.
Eye specialists said the aim of Wednesday's more complicated surgery, which has a 90 percent success rate, was to stick together separated layers of the eye with a surgical freezing technique.
A small incision is made and the eyeball pulled forward to allow the surgeon to reach the affected area at the back of the eye. The surgeon uses an extremely cold probe to make the damaged area sticky.
He then attaches a tiny piece of sponge or rubber to the damaged area to force the retina and inner shell of the eyeball back into contact.
Mrs. Thatcher's private physician said she first complained about her eye at a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace last Wednesday when she thought she had gotten dust in her eye and had rubbed it.
The last time she took off for illness was August 1982, when she underwent an operation for varicose veins. She was in and out of the hospital within 13 hours.