When things appear to be serious, a qualified second opinion is critically important.
One item on my "medical monitoring list" is an annual eye exam.
This year, due to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona withdrawing from the ACA plans in Maricopa County, I had to select a different Health Insurance company - Ambetter from HealthNet - and it turned out that my Opthamologist was not "In Network" - so - time for a new opthamologist.
I did my due diligence, independently identified an "In Network" provider, and found that they were also a provider that my previous provider referred patients to.
I hadn't noticed any change in my vision - still 20/30 or thereabouts in each eye.
So - all was good - or was it??!!
I attended my annual eye exam on May 11th, 2017.
The intake process was "perfunctory", and that's being generous.
Optical Coherence Tomography scans of both eyes were taken.
After a couple of minutes with the "Doctor" he announced that he saw something there in the right eye, and I needed a Fluorescein Angiography OCT.
I went back over to imaging to complete that - then returned to the "chair".
"OK - you have Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration and I will be giving you an injection directly into your eye today, then once a month thereafter."
"I'll pass on that for today - I need to consult with my quarterback (Primary Care Physician) who has helped me successfully navigate the sea of medical decisions these past three years".
"Don't wait too long - if you're not back here within a week for an injection you will GO BLIND!"
I did consult with my PCP, and another provider, and both advised to seek an in depth consult with the "Eye Doctor" - or identify a new candidate.
The response from the "Eye Doctor", through his office staff:
"Sorry - I only do 15 minute appointments and that includes an injection. Fax me your questions and I'll reply within 1 business day."
Needless to say - I sent the fax - and never heard another thing from him or his office.
I attended an appointment with him some 4 weeks after the appointment with the "other Eye Doctor".
I brought image files from the "other Eye Doctor" (obtaining those was like pulling teeth - but I prevailed).
Definitely NOT Wet AMD!
The reason I hadn't noticed anything? It was so far away from the area that could affect "central vision" that it was no no impact on that area.
Something that often resolves on it's own without aggressive treatment (that has a significant chance of resulting in infection of the eye).
The images looked like it had improved between the two appointments!
"Let's monitor it closely and take it from there".
At my followup appointment last Friday, Dr. Gordon entered the room with a smile on his face, and said:
"I'm very pleased to advise you that the issue has resolved itself - no fluid anymore. See me in early November for another followup".
If you visit their home page - the very first thing you see is:
"Our focus is always on the person. Our team is never in a hurry to rush you through appointments or pressure you to make a treatment decision for which you aren’t ready. We want to make sure you fully understand your vision challenges and your options for treatment."
The difference between the two practices is like night and day.
No wonder that Associated Retina Consultants is entrusted with hundreds of clinical trials.
So - the moral of this story is - a second opinion is critically important when faced with startling and unexpected news - due your due diligence before embarking on risky and aggressive treatment - particularly if it's uncalled for due to a mis-diagnosis!
About the Authors - Updated 2017
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Tony and Suzanne Marriott