Mohan is an educated well-read 65-year-old gentleman. He can strike an intelligent conversation with anyone irrespective of the age or the background. I still remember the first time he had come for his eye check-up, a few years ago, he chatted with me regarding mechanism of vision and involvement of brain. I was very impressed by the depth and breadth of his knowledge. Without fail every year he would come for his eye check-up. On his last visit I noticed that the lens inside the eye was cataractous and was slightly swollen and was compressing the angles of the eye. I gave him the option to do a laser-based procedure called YAG PI or to go for early cataract surgery to prevent development of high pressure in his eye. He decided to go ahead with the surgery after a month as he had some urgent matter to settle.
Soon after Corona pandemic took hold and lockdown was announced. Luckily for him no adverse event occurred, and he restricted himself to his home on the earnest request of his children. After a month he developed an episode of pain and redness in the affected eye. He contacted me through a tele-consult. I realized that the lens may be pressing on the angle and his eye pressure may have shot up. I prescribed a few drops to reduce the eye pressure but asked him to come to the hospital for an immediate assessment. After a few days, his pain and redness settled down and he decided to postpone the visit to the hospital and carried on with his regular activities. One day he realized that the vision in that eye has dropped significantly. He again took a tele-consult with me. This time I insisted again and requested him to come to the hospital. Finally, after a lot of urging, he came to the hospital. Under all precautions, we performed a detailed eye check-up. His cataract had increased, and the angles of the eye were completely blocked, cornea (the front transparent part of the eye) was slightly oedematous and the nerve of the eye was also damaged. So, basically the delay in performing the surgery led to high pressure which caused the damage to the cornea and the nerve of the eye. We immediately prescribed medicines to reduce the eye pressure. Post that a combined cataract and glaucoma surgery was performed. Unfortunately for him there was a permanent reduction of vision in that eye due to an irreversible damage to the nerve of the eye.
Episodes like this are painful not just for the patients but for doctors alike! We could have prevented this from happening. I wished he had paid more heed to my advice! I can understand that the fear of the corona pandemic is causing many people to delay their treatments. And I think to some extent this mind set may be correct. We all need to reduce the unnecessary interaction with hospitals especially the ones where Corona patients are also being treated. I have written earlier about how to choose the right eye hospital for your eye treatment. Please read it here
It is important for us to understand that often seemingly minor health issues may lead to long standing problems. It is a good idea that even for minor persisting issues, we all get the opinion from the right doctor. A lot of issues can be sorted through tele-consults. As a first step if we fear going to the hospital, we can just do a tele-consult with our eye doctor. If the eye doctor is unable to conclusively ascertain the problem, he/she may ask you to come for an in-person evaluation. Seldom you may be advised an eye surgery as well.
I personally feel that if an eye surgery is required then it is better to discuss with your eye doctor in more detail about the pros and cons of doing it now versus after a few months. But the question is, Will the situation improve after a few months?
I have done some eye surgeries during this time and with the precautions and protocols we follow, none of my patients, my staff or me personally have developed any problem at all. We all have been safe and healthy. In fact some of my patients have commented that it was the perfect time for them as there was no crowding, no waiting in the hospital, doctor had more time, staff was more patient and caring, their children had more time to take care of them and they could adhere to precautions better as they were not actively venturing out of the house. Yes, sometimes even the dark clouds have silver lining in them!
If you really need to plan an eye surgery like cataract surgery, retinal detachment, injections for retinal oedema, glaucoma lasers , here are some of the things to know and understand
- Ascertain that your eye doctor and the staff at the eye hospital are following strict protocols, to ensure safety.
- There is no over crowding in any area of the eye hospital.
- Avoid hospitals where COVID positive patients are admitted.
- Go for day care eye surgery, where you are out of the hospital soon after completing your eye surgery.
- Ensure that you are also adhering to all the precautions like good quality face mask, hand sanitization, and social distancing.
- If we all adhere to the right protocols and take precautions, then none of us need to postpone essential surgeries. For all we know, it may be a prefect time to get rid of your eye problems and get a new vision!