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Moran Clinic Treats Eye Emergencies--Fast

Apr 16, 2007 6:00 PM

Most people with an eye emergency head to the local ER , call their primary care doctor or schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist. But sometimes, even the slightest delay in treatment can be critical, which is why the triage clinic at the John A. Moran Eye Center is such a valuable resource for the community.

"For many patients, the longer the delay in receiving care, the harder their condition is to treat," says Sudhakar V. Cherukuri, M.D., M.P.H., who along with Richard A. Aldous, M.D., runs the Val & Ann Browning Foundation Triage Clinic at the Moran Eye Center. "The challenge is that in the early stages a problem is not always obvious because it's not a full-fledged condition," says Cherukuri. "In order to catch things early, we have to be very vigilant to make sure we don't miss anything."

Cherukuri, assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the School of Medicine, says identifying a condition early enough to successfully treat it is the most rewarding part of his job. He remembers seeing a patient at the end of clinic one day, an elderly man who'd previously had eye surgery and developed a bacterial infection in his eye. "If he would have waited another day to come in, he might have lost all of his vision," says Cherukuri. But the man underwent surgery at Moran that evening, and his vision was restored to normal. "It's moments like those that I feel all of the hard work and training have come to fruition," says Cherukuri.

Cherukuri and Aldous, adjunct professor of ophthalmology, see at least 10 patients a day at the clinic, which is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Most of those visits are for serious emergencies, such as a chemical injury, foreign object in the eye, ruptured globe, retinal detachment, or infection. "Many patients come in with severe pain due to an abrasion or an infection," says Cherukuri. "When you sustain an injury, you're under a lot of trauma and stress. Just being able to treat the pain makes people feel better."

As with any emergency-care facility, the challenge is to figure out the right doctor to treat the problem. "It gives me great relief to know that for any particular condition I might see, there is a world-renowned specialist in the field just around the corner," says Cherukuri. "It's a privilege to work here."

He also enjoys practicing at a clinic where he sees such a variety of conditions and "helping people in their greatest time of need." "I like being able to reassure patients, make them comfortable, and convey to them that, in most cases, treatment is available," Cherukuri says.

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