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Innovations | May 2012

5 Questions With Elisabeth Patsoura, MD, MRCOphth

1. What attracted you to the field of ophthalmology?

At the time I was choosing my specialty, ophthalmology was experiencing a great evolution. Small-incision cataract surgery and phacoemulsification superseded extracapsular cataract extraction by providing patients with faster visual rehabilitation. In corneal refractive surgery, the excimer laser and LASIK were gaining ground. As a clinician in ophthalmology, I cherish the values of classical medicine, meaning a structured clinical diagnostic approach, but I also have access to superior technology to guide my decision-making process and help me manage patients. I have always found eye surgery fascinating and delicate. With the development of new advances comes the challenge of learning new techniques. Ophthalmology is an exciting medical field; I never stagnate or feel bored.

2. What surgical cases do you find most enjoyable to perform and rewarding once successfully completed?

Difficult cataract cases that challenge my surgical skills and go as planned are always rewarding. Another group of interesting cases are patients with prior corneal refractive surgery. These individuals can have rather unpredictable outcomes after cataract surgery. In these eyes, meticulous preoperative assessment is necessary. I use a combination of various formulas and online tools to calculate IOL power as accurately as possible. Avoiding a refractive surprise is a true reward.

3. How would you describe your approach to treating patients and to medicine in general?

I always aim for a warm but professional approach, and I treat my patients the way I would like to be treated. Spending extra chair time is the key to appropriate management and is also important for establishing trust between the patient and doctor. Patients need to be involved in making decisions. As a rule, I do not overtreat patients or overwhelm them with tests unless such tests are indicated. It is crucial to respect the patient’s quality of life. I find it helpful to follow the important advances in specialties related to ophthalmology so that I can have a better understanding of the patient as a whole person.

4. How do you manage patients’ rising expectations?

I do this by keeping up to date with the latest innovations, by acquiring new skills, and by improving existing ones. I embrace new techniques and technologies once there is good evidence regarding their safety and efficacy. Continual professional education is necessary to optimally consult patients and guide them toward the best choices for their vision. Not every patient is suitable to receive premium technology, despite his or her wish to do so.

5. How do you balance your personal and professional responsibilities?

This is something I achieve with a lot of effort. I prioritize tasks and organize my time so that I can fit many things in a day. Professional commitments occupy most of my working day, but I have quality time with my family too. Weekends are mainly dedicated to my children. They are still young, and spending time with them is refreshing and inspiring. When energy levels run low, seaside escapes remain my all-time favorite way to recharge my battery.