About 6 years ago, my father and I were walking the halls of an eye care conference testing various ophthalmic equipment. One booth particularly caught our attention, a device that captured a high definition image of the retina and took an MRI-like image of the macula. While testing my father’s eyes, we noticed that he had small plaques scattered throughout his macula (called drusen), leading to a diagnosis of macular degeneration. I educated him on the importance of the risk factors: controlling blood pressure, wearing sunglasses, staying away from smokers, taking eye vitamins, etc. Since one of the risk factors for macular degeneration is hypertension, I checked his blood pressure and noticed it was significantly elevated. I immediately scheduled him an appointment to see a cardiologist. The cardiologist performed a few additional tests and discovered a 90% blockage in his coronary artery (aka the widow maker artery). This was particularly critical because my father was, up until this moment, quite active and healthy for most of his life. One of my fears was that he lived alone and would have a heart attack while swimming with no one present to rescue him. When he agreed to see a cardiothoracic surgeon, my family and I were relieved. The surgeon stressed the urgency and seriousness of having bypass surgery to prevent a pending heart attack.
Fast forward 5 years later, my father had the successful bypass surgery, he feels more alive than ever, and his macular degeneration is still stable and controlled. We continue to monitor his retinal digital photographs and MRI-like images of his macula in our office. In fact, we have diagnosed and managed various eye and health conditions from eye cancer to diabetes to retinal detachments to glaucoma. With our state of the art technologies and routine, advanced screenings techniques, we are able to prevent these sight and life threatening conditions with early detection even in healthy individuals.