Monday, February 17, 2014

A Personal Account of Quality Health Care in Mérida

Much has been written on blogs and discussed in forums on the issue of health care in Mexico and, specifically Yucatán. We all know that many people from the United States and Canada come to Mexico for quality and less expensive care. Until you experience it yourself, these testimonials really don't carry much weight. What is one person's good experience can be anothers nightmare. Let me tell you my story of disappointing results from a procedure a little over two years ago in Virginia. I don't usually like to discuss my personal health issues, but I believe that in this case it could help someone who might be having trust issues with the Mexican health care system.

On a routine eye exam, my optometrist discovered that the intra-ocular pressure in both eyes was too high. After monitoring this for a few months, with no change, he referred me to an ophthalmologist who specialized in this condition. I was given a prescription for eye drops to lower the intra-ocular pressure. The side effect was dilation of the pupil for a couple of hours in the morning and again at night. This interfered greatly with my work, which consisted of being in front of a computer for the better part of the day. After a few months of this, I was told that a solution would be to perform the same surgery for removing cataracts, although I did not have sufficient cataract advance to warrant the surgery at the time. However, it would be needed eventually and this surgery could (and I stress could) result in a lowering of the intra-ocular pressure. The surgery entailed removing the natural lenses and implanting artificial lenses, a very common and low risk procedure. I agreed and selected a newer type accommodating lens, which just means that one lens is for distance and the other for near vision. I was told that my vision would not be perfect, but that I would probably no longer need glasses except for reading fine print.

To make a long story shorter, I had the surgery and recovered well and quickly. I was told that it is common for this type surgery to produce scar tissue after a period of time. This will cause some blurred vision and can be remedied with a quick laser procedure. Sure enough, after about six months, my right eye (the one with the near vision lens) became blurry. I like my vision to be clear and sharp so I went in for the laser procedure. The blurriness improved a bit, but gradually returned and became even worse. I was told, simply, that the Cristalens brand that I had implanted was not yet perfected and that I would just have to live with the blurred vision, which seemed more like an oily film coating my eye.

Fast-forward to Mérida. I needed to have my eyes checked so I found an ophthalmologist, specializing in cataract and corneal transplant surgery, with an office at Alta Brisa. Dr. Alejandro Claros Bustamante, a young physician in practice with his father, provided a thorough examination and consultation. He even asked his father to take a look at my eyes. The opinion was that some vitreous humor was leaking and coating the lens, thus causing the blurriness. I was told that a quick procedure called a vitrectomy could be performed which would eliminate the problem.

Two weeks later, I had the surgery and have had amazing results. The blurriness is completely gone and I can see clearly for the first time in almost two years. I'm not sure why the doctors in Virginia never considered that this could be the problem. It seems that they have only about 5 minutes of time to consult with you after a technician has performed all the tests. You wait one to two hours past your appointment time, are served coffee and cookies to make up for this long wait, then rushed out with a polite handshake. This is the unfortunate state of health care in the United States.

I'm so happy I found my doctor in Mérida.

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