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Giffords eye surgery 'successful'

Doctors have successfully operated on shot congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' eye socket to remove bone fragments as she continues to show more signs of improvement.

They said there were no complications from the surgery and Ms Giffords is improving so much that she was able to give her husband a pat on the back.

Dr Randall Friese said astronaut Mark Kelly also told doctors he saw Ms Giffords smile. The doctor said sometimes people see what they want to see, but that "if he says she's smiling, I buy it."

Ms Giffords still cannot speak because of a tracheotomy done so the breathing tube could be removed from her mouth.

Dr Michael Lemole said the eye operation entailed making an incision above the eyebrow, removing bone chips to relieve pressure and reconstructing the roof of the socket.

Ms Giffords responded from the moment she arrived at the emergency room on January after being shot point blank in the head on January 8 outside a store in Tuscon, Arizona.

At first she squeezed a doctor's hand, then she raised two fingers. She opened her unbandaged eye shortly after President Barack Obama's bedside visit last Wednesday.

Then, more milestones - which doctors said were all indicative of higher cognitive function - were achieved, all with her husband at her side.

Mr Kelly asked her to give him a thumbs-up if she could hear him. She did more than that. She slowly raised her left arm. By the end of the week, she had moved her legs and arms.

Ms Giffords and 18 others were shot when a gunman opened fire at a meet-and-greet she was hosting outside a supermarket in her own hometown. Six people died.

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