In Ophthalmology, we assess the patient’s visual acuity by first using the Snellen Chart, which most of you are likely familiar with. (If not, let me remind you of your P200 medical fee for a driver’s license.)
If a patient couldn’t read even the biggest letter at a distance of 20 feet, he is brought nearer until he can do so. If not, we check if the patient can count fingers, detect hand movement, or identify a light source. Only if he fails these tests will he be declared to have a negative vision, an absolute eye, or basically – be blind.
When it comes to problems of the eye of any nature — whether serious or benign — most patients are very frightened of the possibility of going blind.
However, as I have observed, a lot of people attribute their declining vision to aging, and therefore do not do anything about it.
I was once the clerk-in-charge of a 66 year old cataract patient. Before her operation, she could only identify a light source, and everything else was blurred. After her 30-minute microsurgery, she was already able to detect hand movement.
This made her SMILE a big, goofy smile.
When was the last time I thought about my perfectly workable (though not 20/20) vision and gave a big, goofy smile?
This short encounter gave me an unforgettable glimpse of how regaining one’s vision has a profound impact on regaining one’s quality of life – and ophthalmologists get to play a big role in making that happen.
Who Wants To Be An Ophthalmologist?
Ophthalmology is one of the few specialties wherein the full spectrum of care is included in the practice.
There’s preventive medicine when a diabetic patient is asked to return annually to monitor for neovascularization. This requires co-management with the patient’s internist for the control of the systemic condition.
There’s medical management when a teenage boy presents with thick, purulent, and explosively profuse eye discharge. (Personal/social history will confirm that it was sexually transmitted.)
And of course there is time-in at the operating room, where surgical management is usually cleaner, quicker, and visibly life-changing. Examples of which are refractive surgery (LASIK) and phacoemulsification (cataract removal and lens replacement).
Add to that the fact that ophthalmologists are skilled to use special diagnostic equipment on a daily basis. Ophtalmoscopes and slit lamps are SO hard to figure out! I kind of give up on those. I need more practice.
Needless to say, I enjoyed every bit of my rotation and will not cross it off so easily in my future choices. 🙂