All aspects of comprehensive ophthalmology appeal to Dr. Sapna Desai, a board-certified ophthalmologist who joined Eye Consultants of Atlanta in 2019. Cataract surgery, however, rises to the top as a specialty she finds extremely rewarding.
Unlike many ailments in medicine that can’t be remedied, cataracts can be cured. “We can eliminate it completely,” Dr. Desai explains. “It makes you feel so good every time you hear someone say, ‘I haven’t been able to drive for over a year, and I drove myself to this appointment.’”
Dr. Desai sees great value in nurturing communication with patients and empowering them to take the driver’s seat when it comes to their eye health. This dynamic is especially relevant regarding cataract treatment, she says.
Instead of simply diving into surgery after a cataract diagnosis, Dr. Desai says she not only thoroughly assesses the situation but engages in a deep discussion with the patient in terms of options and next steps.
“It’s important to take the time to understand exactly what their symptoms are and figure out what is going to make them happy,” she explains. “Are they actually willing or motivated to have surgery? Are they a little hesitant about surgery and want to explore other options? Understanding their goals and issues really goes a long way.”
This includes having a good comprehension of a patient’s daily routine and overall wants and needs. These goals, she says, can range from the desire to drive or read without glasses to being best equipped to spend a large amount of time on a computer.
“Having the answers to these types of questions helps make sure you’re providing them with the right kind of lens and the right kind of choices,” she says.
A recent patient’s experience shows the impact of Dr. Desai’s specific approach. The patient came to the practice with severe medical issues, including advanced cataract in both eyes, extremely impaired vision, and an ongoing battle with cancer. His vision loss limited his independence, hindering his ability to carry out daily tasks.
During their initial consultation, Dr. Desai worked closely with the patient to craft a care plan that aligned with his medical goals. Due to the patient’s medical complications, Dr. Desai and the patient modified the plan to proceed with the surgery safely. After receiving medical clearance, Dr. Desai performed two successful surgeries to restore the patient’s vision. Even before completing the second surgery, the patient noticed a tremendous improvement in his vision, which allowed him to drive again.
“With cataract surgery, we can quickly improve someone’s quality of life, and that’s incredibly gratifying,” says Dr. Desai.