It is completely normal to experience a form of anticipatory anxiety or nervousness when considering any type of surgery. After all, there is a consent process that explains that there is no surgical procedure that is completely risk free. But even traveling to the doctor’s office includes some risk. Notice I used the term consent process and not consent form. The form is signed piece of paper but serves as only one aspect of the process that should really be called informed “choice.” After all, a diagnosis is followed by patient education includes. This includes counseling about the nature of the condition, therapeutic or treatment options, analysis of risk /benefits/limitations/likely outcomes and arriving at a treatment plan that maximizes treatment outcome while minimizing risk and unnecessary expense. Cataract and Refractive (LASIK) surgery are representative of examples of procedures that can be particularly anxiety producing as expectations continue to increase resulting from advancements in both safety and technology. Unfortunately, complications still occur and they can be severe. Furthermore, the eye and eyesight have a special “value” to patients. Fortunately, patients are becoming much better educated even before they arrive at the doctor’s office. They do their “homework” researching their options and selecting not only a surgeon but also the facility and staff along with technology that reduces their risk of having a complication while also being in the best place should a problem occur. Patients are more sensitive to the patient “mill” environment that may appear to trivialize the procedure or be too pushy in promoting more expensive intraocular lenses (IOLs) which are still relatively new and frequently evolving and are not universally accepted as the best option. On the other hand there are several patients who are ideally suited for these newer lenses and it is incumbent upon the physician and staff to sort this out with the patient and the referring doctor. One of the key ingredients to success for Alan N. Carlson, M.D., Professor of Ophthalmology and Chief of the Corneal and Refractive Surgery Service at the Duke Eye Center in Durham, NC is the process of active engagement that includes the patient in choosing the procedure, timing, technique, equipment, and lens. One size does NOT fit all. Each patient is different and unique. Also, communicating with the patient that for most cases, an experienced eye surgeon recognizes that it is the patient who actually has the hard job because they are doing something they have not done before or perhaps only one time previously on the first eye. Fortunately, for the busy and successful surgeon like Dr. Carlson, cataract surgery is performed safely and effectively several times per day, several days per week.
“Telling it like it is” at Duke – Floyd from South Carolina is a terrific example of an individual openly anxious about cataract surgery who meticulously reviews his decision-making process and experience at the Duke Eye Center under Dr. Carlson along with his terrifically experienced and qualified staff: