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Tag: Over-treatment

Guess Who Has Been Over-Treated For More Than Twenty Five Years?

When I was in my twenties, I was diagnosed with glaucoma. At the time, I didn’t worry about it. I was twenty-something, busy teaching, having babies, writing a book—and, with glasses, my eyesight was 20/20.

It was only when I moved to Manhattan twenty-five years ago that I began to take the disease seriously. A friend recommended an ophthalmologist who, I was told, was one of the best in the city. He regularly turned up on lists of New York’s star specialists, had an office on Park Avenue, and didn’t take insurance of any kind. Twenty-five years ago, this was unusual. But, my employer’s insurance was generous and paid most of his very high fee.

At my first appointment, I mentioned the early diagnosis of glaucoma. After examining my eyes, Dr. X told me that that I must begin using eye drops immediately. I also should begin making appointments to see him every four months so that he could check the “pressure” on my optic nerve. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. There is no cure, but usually it can be controlled with eye drops. “It must be watched carefully,” said Dr. X.

Over a period of years, I saw Dr. X regularly, and continued to use the eye drops, morning and night. At least once a year he prescribed a “field vision test” to check whether my peripheral vision was degenerating. Meanwhile, an appointment with Dr. X killed an afternoon. He kept his waiting room full. And while he had many minions (young assistants who seemed afraid of him), he was a solo practitioner, so the line moved slowly. He once explained to me that he preferred solo practice because, “I don’t want anyone looking over my shoulder.”Continue reading…