Eye Surgeon Becomes Eye Surgery Patient
I have been blessed with excellent vision all of my life. I did not need glasses until I turned 45 when I got reading glasses. I have been an Eye Surgeon since 1981 and have performed thousands of eye surgeries, primarily cataracts, corneal transplants, and LASIK. I am 72 years old. Most people have at least a little cataract at this age. Although I was still seeing 20/20 in both eyes, I felt my vision through the surgical microscope might not be as clear in my left eye as it was in my right eye. If I were not an active surgeon, I might not have worried about it, but anything that could possibly affect my vision while I was doing surgery was intolerable to me.
I asked my partner Brant Carroll MD to examine me. He saw a cataract in my left eye, and he felt that surgery was reasonable. I have been operating at our Surgery Center at our Ballard location for a number of years, and I have great confidence in the Nurses and Staff there. I knew that I wanted to have my surgery at our Surgery Center, and I knew I wanted Dr. Carroll to be my surgeon.
After doing thousands of surgeries myself, I am well aware of possible complications that include the remote possibility of loss of all vision in the operative eye. If that happened to me, I would not be able to continue doing eye surgery. I wondered how nervous I would be heading into surgery and during surgery. I was surprised that I felt calm and comfortable during the entire process. I believe that was because of my confidence in Dr. Carroll, the Nurses, and the Staff at our Surgery Center.
I have been extremely interested in what my patients experience during surgery. When my patients ask me what they will experience during surgery I relate what my other patients have told me, but I was eager to find out for myself. What would I see during surgery? How did it feel? Did it hurt? I routinely ask my patients to look up at the “two bright spots of light” in the microscope (the filaments of the microscope light source) to center their eye for me in the microscope. Most patients have followed that direction, but what did they actually see? Finally, I would experience it all live. As it turned out, I tried to pay attention, but the intravenous sedation calmed me enough that I did not really pay attention to the details. Alas, I never clearly saw the “two bright spots of light” which I still ask my patients to find and look at. I can only report that I was comfortable throughout the surgery.
I remember more about the immediate post-op experience after my sedation wore off. My eye was very dilated, and it was a sunny day. I did not want to open my eye outside because of the extreme brightness. Indoors I could tell that my vision was OK. My eye never hurt, but it felt scratchy for several hours. The next morning my vision was clear, and I had no discomfort.
I am a little disappointed that I cannot give a more accurate blow by blow of my surgical experience. Still, having gone through the experience, I feel more confident counseling my patients about their procedure, and I think they appreciate the fact that I have actually experienced the entire process.
Brian McKillop MD