August 18, 2008

Risk of Allergic Reaction Exists After Eye Surgery


Dear Dr. Gott: My eye specialist recently told me that I need cataract surgery. My reaction was negative because I have always been allergic to anything and everything in or around my eyes. I have never even been able to wear any kind of makeup. I can't wear contact lenses because it was found I was allergic to the lenses themselves. I tried twice but not through this doctor.

Dear Reader: A cataract is the clouding of the eye's natural lens, situated behind the iris and pupil. The condition is common in the elderly and affects about 70 percent of those over 75 years of age.

Allergies of the eye are no different than allergies affecting the lungs, nose and sinuses. In the case of cataract surgery, adverse reactions to eye-numbing injections can cause hypersensitivity either from the compound itself or from the mechanical manipulation of the needle. Reactions are uncommon but do happen.

Because you appear to be a likely candidate for an allergic reaction, I recommend you discuss the issue with your ophthalmologist. He or she can tell you what injection are normally used, whether there are options and, based on your history, whether you should have the surgery.

I don't mean to skirt the problem and refer you back to your surgeon, but he or she knows your eyes, medical history and whether the benefits will outweigh the risks. Perhaps a three-way conversation with your primary-care physician might provide the answers you need.

To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "An Informed Approach to Surgery." Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed, stamped, No. 10 envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

Write Dr. Gott c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave. 4th floor, New York, NY 10016.

Originally published by PETER GOTT Newspaper Enterprise Association.

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