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Cataract Surgery from the Patient Perspective

posted Feb 12, 2014, 3:41 PM by Jen Weigel   [ updated Mar 26, 2014, 4:58 PM ]
On Monday, Joan and I made the quick jog over to Bowie, MD, where she had cataract surgery performed on her right eye by Dr. Jonathan Solomon.  Dr. Solomon has been working with TLC Tysons Corner on a number of different clinical and surgical programs, most notably our corneal crosslinking study, introducing ICLs to our TLC Tysons Corner practice, and now offering cataract surgery options to patients through his own private practice, Solomon Eye Physicians.

Joan has been preparing for this day for quite a long time, actually.  She's had multiple corneal refractive procedures on her right eye ... two PRKs and one CK procedure.  Joan had her initial PRK surgery in Canada before it was even an approved procedure in the US.  When I first reviewed her chart, I looked at Joan with great disappointment, and I said, "Joan!  They didn't even document what kind of procedure you were having!"  She laughed, noting very kindly that they didn't need to document it because PRK was the ONLY option back then!  Whoa!

Because of the multiple corneal procedures, it took at a lot of preparation - both on the OD and the MD ends - to get Joan ready for prime time.  We did tons of contact lens trials to pin down the best modified monovision targets possible to give good distance vision but preserving the near vision that was Joan's priority.  (After all, she is on the computer all the time communicating with her favorite Affiliates!)  We also spent a great deal of time trying to perfect the corneal surface and boost her tear layer performance.  

For Dr. Solomon, he naturally wanted the best visual outcome for Joan, as would we all.  That would be a tricky endeavor for anyone with multiple refractive procedures in their ocular history.  In his Bowie surgical center, he utilized femtosecond technology (similar to our LASIK IntraLase laser for flap creation) and intraoperative abberometry (similar to our Wavescan wavefront abberometer or a super awesome autorefractor) to ensure the most gentle and accurate procedure possible for Joan.

There were two take-home messages for me in this journey.  One, I had to constantly remind myself that Joan was a patient, not a staff member.  I can't tell you how many times I would quickly rush through something thinking that she knew what what was going on only to realize that I needed to explain what I was doing like I would with any "regular" patient.  I see her all the time, so it was hard for me to remember that she spends more time out in the field vs in the clinic.  Two, I realized the importance of calmly teaching patients.  Because we know things from repeating the same set of instructions all day long and from our educational backgrounds, it can seem like we are conveying easy instructions or details to patients, but it's good to keep perspective.  This is the patient's FIRST experience with surgery, and we should remember to respect what they are going through.  Sometimes when you are a little bit anxious about surgery, it's hard to listen and comprehend at lightening fast speed.  Slowing it down on the educational side can be a good benefit for our patients.

I did take a picture of Joan as she was in recovery, but I think that I will hold it hostage for now.  You know, like in case I want to bribe Joan later on or get some valuable insider information from her.  But, for now, she's too dear to me to post a pic of her while she was still high on her anesthesia "martini".  - jw
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