TORONTO -- The eye irritation seemed more bothersome than a burden at first for Marcus Smart.
But even with the added attention he was receiving from the Boston Celtics’ medical staff, it just wasn’t getting any better to the point where there was growing concern that it might impact his vision long-term.
“The way it was going, they were so worried it was affecting my cornea and my vision,” Smart told reporters prior to today’s game against Toronto. “It was a little scary.”
While Smart is on the mend and could return to action as early as Friday's game against Cleveland, it’s clear that it will be a while before he fully puts the events of the past couple of weeks regarding eyes fully behind him.
Concerns about his eyes began to pick up after the symptoms associated with what they thought was an allergic reaction that affected his left eye, cleared up only for those same symptoms to resurface in his right eye.
Smart said that’s when an allergic reaction was ruled out, and the doctors diagnosed him as suffering from an adenovirus which can infect the inner lining of the eyes as well as other internal parts of the body that includes but isn’t limited to the nervous system.
And it made sense to Smart who was trying to fight off a cold that got so bad that the Celtics sent him home from practice to ensure, as best they could, that he would not infect any of his teammates.
“That just broke my immune system down and opened it up for everything else, and everything else in my body went haywire,” Smart said.
Smart described the pain he experienced in his eye as painful as anything he’s ever felt.
There was a steady burning sensation along with limited vision and added sensitivity to light.
“I couldn’t see. I had to wear sunglasses everywhere I went. Even in the dark I was wearing sunglasses. It was that bad.”
The mornings were particularly tough for Smart in those first few days.
“Every morning I would wake up, I’d have this sticky discharge coming out of my eyes; sealing my eyes shut. It was gross,” said Smart who added, “it got so bad that my eyelids started forming these mucous membranes and they literally had to go in and pry the mucous membranes. It was pretty gross. I was bleeding tears every time they did it, for like a day. They did that for four days straight.
He added, “the first day was the worst. It built up so much it started to scab under my eyelids. It felt like they were putting needles in my eyes. They were using tweezers and get into my eyelids, both the bottom and the top. It was definitely some pain I never want to go through again.”
Smart admits he’s not fully back to his old self yet, but he’s definitely in a better position than he was a couple weeks ago.
He said he feels he’s at about 80 percent right now.
And the dosage he has been taking for his eyes is down to two different sets of eye drops from three.
But as badly as Smart wants to get back on the floor and hates having missed so many games, he does see the silver lining in this eye ailment.
“On the good side, I got to heal up … with the injuries I had and let my body do what it does,” Smart said.
And pretty soon, he'll go back to doing what his body does best which is to impact games in a way that has been key to the Celtics’ success. And that once again has them among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Friday at 3:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Tommy have the call at 4 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.