METROFOCUS: February 18, 2021

Encore: July 06, 2021

ADVANCEMENTS IN EYE CARE: FATHER-SON TEAM RESTORING SIGHT

At the height of the pandemic, across most medical specialties, doctors noted a sharp drop in care as patients curbed nonessential visits and procedures out of the fear that a medical appointment could lead to the coronavirus infection. But it wasn’t just dramatic specialties like cancer or heart care that saw collateral damage from COVID. Opthalmology was hit the hardest of all. According to recent data, eye doctors experienced a nearly 80% drop in visits. And for some, that delayed care threatened to leave patients in the dark. Visits for cataracts plummeted 97% and encounters for glaucoma, which can cause blindness, were down 88%. Tonight, our Medical Marvels series spotlights Advancements in Eye Care and the father-son team working diligently to reverse the statistics and restore sight. Dr.’s Richard and RJ Mackool take us into the operating room at the Mackool Eye Institute.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G.

PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION, AND BY JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

> GOOD EVENING.

AND WELCOME TO THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF 'METRO FOCUS.'

FROM THE VACCINE AND LIFE SAVING TREATMENTS, THIS PAST YEAR HAS TRULY BEEN AN EXTRAORDINARY ONE FOR SCIENTIFIC TREATMENT.

THIS FEATS CONTINUE TO RECEIVE PLENTY OF ATTENTION AND RIGHTFULLY SO AMID ALL THE HEART BREAK.

STILL, THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER MEDICAL MARVELS HAPPENING EVERY DAY THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO IN THE PAST.

TONIGHT AS PART OF OUR SERIES ON THESE HEALTH CARE BREAKTHROUGHS, WE'RE TAKING YOU BACK INSIDE THE OPERATING ROOM FOR A FIRSTHAND LOOK OF ONE OF THE HUMAN BODIES MORE EXCEPTIONAL FEATURES, OUR EYES.

IN JUST A MOMENT WE WILL DISCUSS MAJOR ADVANCEMENTS IN HOW WE CARE WITH OUR VISION.

A FATHER AND SON TEAM WHO HAVE PERFORMED TENS OF THOUSANDS OF SURGERIES RIGHT HERE IN NEW YORK.

BUT WE BEGIN AT THE EYE INSTITUTE AND LASER INSTITUTE THAT IS USING TECHNOLOGY TO CHANGE LIVES.

HERE'S DR. RICHARD McCOOL WITH HIS PATIENT THOMAS AND TOM'S MOTHER, DONNA.

AND JUST A WARNING, THE SURGICAL SCENES YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE ARE A BIT GRAPHIC AND WERE RECORDED PRIOR TO THE PANDEMIC.

THOMAS SUFFERS FROM DUSHANE'S MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY.

HE'S ONE OF THE OLDER BOYS WITH THE CONDITION.

HE'S 30 YEARS OLD.

HE'S BEEN ON STEROIDS FOR A LONG TIME, AS ARE USED FOR THE CONDITION, AND THAT'S CAUSED HIM TO DEVELOP SEVERE CATARACTS THAT HAVE GREATLY LIMITED HIS VISION AND ACTUALLY MAKING HIM LEGALLY BLIND.

HIS MOTHER, DONNA, HAS BEEN TOTALLY DEVOTED TO HIS CARE AND, THUS, TOM IS WITH US TODAY TO GET HIS VISION IMPROVED BY CATARACT SURGERY.

SO HOW ARE YOU DOING, TOM?

YOU UP FOR THIS?

YEAH, I'M READY.

A ONE WIN FOR THE GIPER, ARE WE?

YEAH.

TOM IS A BRAVE YOUNG BOY.

THERE WILL BE SOME IMPORTANT THINGS THAT WE HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION TO FOR PATIENTS WITH MEDICAL CONDITIONS SUCH AS THIS ONE.

THOMAS, FOR EXAMPLE, CAN'T LIE VERY FLAT FOR VERY LONG.

THAT'S A PROBLEM.

HE OBVIOUSLY DOESN'T HAVE CONTROL OVER ALL OF HIS MUSCULATURE, VERY LITTLE OF HIS MUSCULATURE, SO WE WILL BE PAYING ATTENTION TO THAT AS WELL.

ANESTHESIA, WE REALLY DON'T WANT TO SEDATE HIM, IF AT ALL, BECAUSE THAT INTERFERES WITH HIS RESPIRATORY FUNCTION.

THAT'S GOING TO BE THE GOALS, AND, SO, OFF WE GO TO GET THIS DONE FOR TOM.

HERE'S TOM IN THE OPERATING ROOM.

HE WEIGHS 60 POUNDS.

HIS MOM WEIGHS 90.

SHE'S PICKING HIM UP AND CARRYING HIM TO THE TABLE.

SHE KNOWS HOW TO CARRY HIM THE BEST.

NOW WE WILL GET HIM IN POSITION AND MAKE HIM COMFORTABLE BEFORE WE MAPARTIALLY RECLINE THE CHAI.

WE WILL COVER HIM LIKE WE DO EVERY PATIENT BUT TOM HAS SOME CLAUSTROPHOBIA.

BREATHING PROBLEMS WILL GIVE THAT TO PEOPLE.

WE ARE GOING TO ELEVATE THE DRAPES.

YOU CAN SEE THEY'RE ELEVATED HERE.

AS I'M PREPARING HIS EYE FOR THE SURGERY, PUTTING THE DRAPES ON.

SO YOU CAN SEE THE EXTREME DENSITY OF THE POSTERIOR TO PASSTY HERE.

WE WILL BE ABLE TO VISUALIZE THE ANTERIOR CAPSULE.

GOOD.

NICE AND STILL.

I'M GOING TO HOLD HIM AS STILL AS I CAN.

THEN I'LL MAKE THE SIDE PUT PUNCTURE, IN AND OUT QUICKLY.

SAME THING BACK TOWARD THE LIGHTS, TOM.

GOOD.

NICE AND STILL, JUST LIKE THAT.

OKAY.

NOW WE'LL STAIN HIS ANTERIOR CAPSULE.

THAT WAS A 2.4 MILLIMETER CAP TONE.

LET IT SIT FOR A FEW SECONDS.

OKAY, TOM.

TRY TO LOOK STRAIGHT AHEAD.

SLIP IN HERE.

SO I NOW HAVE THAT PIECE OF LENS MATERIAL THAT WAS SUB INCISIONAL.

I'M GOING TO PRESS THAT INTO THE PORT AND GET RID OF IT.

SO NOW WE WILL MOVE TO THE CORTEX.

SO NOW WE'RE GOING TO PUT THIS RESTORED 2.5 IOL DIRECTLY INTO THE CAPSULAR SACK AND TUCK IT IN THERE BEFORE IT UNFOLDS.

AND LAST OF ALL WE HAVE TO PUT THIS IN.

YOU WILL BE ABLE TO SEE BETTER IMMEDIATELY.

THAT IS ONE BIG CATARACT.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

SO WE'RE BACK HERE WITH TOM AND HIS MOTHER.

WE'RE NOW TWO MONTHS SINCE TOM HAS HAD HIS SURGICAL PROCEDURES TO CORRECT HIS VISION, AND THINGS HAVE GONE QUITE WELL.

LET TOM TELL US ALL ABOUT IT, BUT IT'S BEEN AN AWFULLY NICE THING FOR ALL OF US TO WATCH TOM.

TOM, HOW ARE THINGS FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE?

REALLY GOOD.

I CAN DJ AGAIN AND WATCH FOOTBALL ON TV, AND I COULD SEE MY CELL PHONE AND COMPUTER AND THE SIGNS AND THE CLOUDS, TRAFFIC CLOUDS, ALL THAT STUFF.

I COULD SEE PEOPLE MORE CLEARLY.

JOINING US NOW TO CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION ARE DR. RICHARD McCOOL WHO YOU JUST SAW.

HE'S THE FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF THE McCOOL EYE INSTITUTE AND CENTER IN QUEENS.

HE IS ALSO AN INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED EXPERT ON SURGERY OF THE EYES.

HI THERE, JENNA.

NICE TO BE WITH YOU TODAY.

SO NICE TO BE WITH YOU.

I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO WELCOME DR.

RJ McCOOL, THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR.

HE'S ALSO AN EXPERT IN SEVERAL FIELD RELATED TO OUR SITE AND AN ATTENDING SURGEON AT BOTH THE NEW YORK EYE AND EAR INFIRMARY OF MT. SINAI AND NYU MEDICAL CENTER.

WELCOME DR. RJ McCOOL.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

IT IS GREAT TO BE HERE.

THANK YOU BOTH SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

FIRST I WANT TO START OFF BY SAYING THAT THE VIDEO THAT YOU SAW WAS OBVIOUSLY REMARKABLE AND EMPHASIS ON THE BOARD OBVIOUSLY.

WE SAW A GENTLEMAN GO FROM BEING LEGALLY BLIND TO HAVING ESSENTIALLY 2020 VISION.

AND I'M WONDERING JUST AS DOCTORS, AS MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS, WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE ABLE TO GIVE SOMEONE THEIR SIGHT BACK.

DOCTOR, I'LL START WITH YOU.

IT'S ALMOST INDESCRIBABLE.

I HAVE TO TELL YOU.

EVEN AS I SEE THESE PATIENTS AFTER THE SURGERY AND I GAZE INTO THEIR EYES, THE EYE IS ONE INCH LONG, AND I LOOK AT IT AND I SEE WHAT WE'VE DONE AND I SAY, DID I DO THAT?

MY GOODNESS.

AND THE SMILES, THE INCREDIBLE HUMANITY OF IT ALL, IT JUST KEEPS YOU GOING.

YOU KNOW, WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH SO MUCH RECENTLY.

ONE DOESN'T HAVE TO DWELL ON IT.

AND WHEN YOU ARE ABLE TO FIND THIS KIND OF PLEASURE, YOU JUST COUNT YOURSELF LUCKY.

TOM AND HIS MOTHER, DONNA, ARE JUST SUCH WONDERFUL PEOPLE.

AND THE STRUGGLE, IMAGINE WHAT SHE'S HAD TO DO TO KEEP THIS YOUNG MAN NOT JUST FUNCTIONAL, ALIVE.

HERE HE IS.

HE'S SMART.

HE'S ACTIVE.

HE'S A DJ.

I MEAN, COME ON.

TOTALLY PARALYZED.

AND HE CAN'T HANDLE GLASSES, BY THE WAY.

OF COURSE.

HE'S PARALYZED.

SO WE USED IMPLANTS THAT LET HIM SEE DISTANCE AND UP CLOSE AND, WOW, YEAH.

OKAY.

I'M BLOWN AWAY.

WELL, I MEAN, THAT'S REALLY, REALLY AMAZING, TO NOT ONLY KNOW IT'S POSSIBLE BUT I'M SURE TO BE ABLE TO ACTUALLY DO YOURSELF.

AND, SO, DR. RJ McCOOL, WHAT IS IT?

SO MANY OF US KNOW ABOUT OUR EYES DON'T TOUCH THEM AND THAT'S ABOUT THE EXTENT OF IT.

BUT WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MAJOR MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGHS THAT HAVE HAPPENED IN EYE CARE IN THE LAST DECADE THAT WE MIGHT NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND.

WE HAVE MADE SEVERAL ADVANCEMENTS.

GLAUCOMA ESPECIALLY IS TREATED IN A MUCH MORE EFFICIENT WAY THAN IT USED TO.

OUR OLD SURGERIES WERE OUTDATED AND YOU NEEDED TO MAKE A WHOLE IN THE EYE TO LET THE FLUID DRAIN OUT.

IT WAS AN UNCONTROLLED PROCEDURE.

BUT THROUGH MEDICAL INNOVATION, WE CAN DO THINGS LIKE GOING TO THE ACTUAL DRAINAGE CANAL OF THE EYE AND CLEAN IT OUT.

IT IS CALLED A CANALOPLASTY.

WE ALSO HAVE LITTLE IMPLANTS THAT WE CAN PUT IN THE ANGLE OF THE EYE TO TREAT GLAUCOMA.

THAT HAS SAVED VISION IN COUNTLESS OF PATIENTS.

MANY OF OUR PATIENTS ARE OLDER.

THEY'RE IN THEIR 80s, AND IT'S VERY DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO HAVE A VERY STRENUOUS PROCEDURE WHERE THEY GO IN AND OUT OF THE OFFICE WEEKS IN AND OUT.

THEY ARE USUALLY DONE AT THE TIME OF CATARACT SURGERY AND TAKE THE PLACE OF THESE MORE DIFFICULT PROCEDURES WE HAD TO DO.

I WAS INVOLVED IN THE FDA STUDY FOR THAT SO THAT PEOPLE WHO HAD TRAUMATIC EYE CAN HAVE VISION.

I LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY THAT WE CAN AUTO FOCUS WITH THE CAMERA.

THAT WILL HAVE TO BE DONE EVE EVENTUALLY.

SPEAKING OF THE FUTURE, WHAT ROLE DOES THE DEVELOPMENT OF AI PLAY IN ANY OF THIS?

IT SEEMS LIKE WITH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE THE SKY IS THE LIMIT.

AND, YEAH, DR. McCOOL SENIOR, YOUR THOUGHTS?

SO AI CERTAINLY HOLDS GREAT PROMISE FOR RESEARCH AND EDUCATION AND THE SPREADING OF INFORMATION.

WHAT WE ARE SEEING IN THE OPERATING ROOM OVER THE PAST -- IT'S BEEN A 30, 40-YEAR PROGRESSION IS FIRST WE DEVELOP THE ABILITY TO SEE TINY STRUCTURES BECAUSE YOU CAN'T OPERATE ON THEM IF YOU CAN'T SEE THEM.

THAT MEANT USING A MICROSCOPE TO OPPOSITE.

MOST PEOPLE THINK YOU USE IN A LABORATORY TO LOOK AT BLOOD CELLS.

CAN YOU IMAGINE USING ONE TO OPERATE.

IN THAT VIDEO, THE MAGNIFICATION WAS 20, 30, 40 TIMES TO SEE TINY LITTLE DETAILS.

WE'RE OPERATING IN A SPACE INSIDE THE HUMAN EYE THAT'S EQUIVALENT TO TWO OR THREE DROPS OF WATER, DROPS.

OUR MARGIN FOR ERROR IS 150th OF AN INCH, AND THAT EYE IS COLLAPSIBLE.

SO WE USE SCANNING LASERS TO MONITOR THE PRESSURE IN THE EYE, AND WE USE INCREDIBLY RAPID RESPONSE SOFTWARE TO MAINTAIN THAT PRESSURE IN THE NORMAL LEVELS.

OTHERWISE, TWO OR THREE DROPS CAN BECOME ONE DROP IN THE EYE.

AND ONE DROP IS CALAMITOUS TRAUMA.

SO WE HAVE A MARGIN FOR ERROR OF ABOUT ZERO.

AND HUMANS COULDN'T PUT A MAN ON THE MOON, BUT SOFTWARE COULD.

AND HUMANS, YES, WE'RE REQUIRED TO DO THIS PROCEDURE, BUT WITHOUT THE TECHNOLOGY, FORGET IT.

WE COULDN'T DO IT.

SO THE MARRIAGE, IF YOU WILL, OF THE TECHNOLOGY AND THE COMPANIES THAT HAVE INVESTED HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN IT AND THE SKILL SETS AND JUST MADE THIS PROCEDURE NOT A WEEK IN THE HOSPITAL AND AN HOUR OF SURGERY.

MINUTES OF SURGERY.

IMMEDIATELY YOU LEAVE WITHOUT A BANDAGE AND YOU SEE THERE, NOT BAD.

WHICH, AGAIN, IS JUST ABSOLUTELY MIND BLOWING, AT LEAST TO A LAYPERSON, A LAY MEDICAL PERSON LIKE MYSELF.

DR. RJ McCOOL, ONE OF THE OTHER THINGS THAT I WAS INTERESTED IN WAS WHAT WE SAW WITH THE YOUNG MAN, TOM, IN THE VIDEO IN THE BEGINNING.

WAS THAT AN OUTLIER CASE, OR IS THERE MORE POSSIBILITIES FOR PEOPLE WITH LOW VISION TO HAVE THAT VISION EXPANDED OR RETURNED TO ESSENTIALLY 20/20?

IT'S A WORLDWIDE PROBLEM.

YOU KNOW, THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM NEEDLESS BLINDLESS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.

WE'RE PRIVILEGED TO BE IN A COUNTRY WHERE WE CAN TREAT DISEASES SO SEVERE.

BUT PEOPLE WALK AROUND AND DON'T REALIZE THEY COULD HAVE THEIR SIGHT RESTORED.

WE HAD PATIENTS WITH TRAUMATIC INJURIES TO THE EYE.

RECENTLY I HAD A YOUNG WOMAN WITH AN AIR BAG INJURY WORKING WITH VERY LOW VISION IN HER EYE.

BUT THROUGH A FULL RECONSTRUCTION, I WOULD OFFER HER VISION IN THAT EYE AGAIN.

EVERY YEAR WE GET BETTER AT WHAT WE DO.

AND I THINK IT'S STRIVING TO GET BETTER AT WHAT WE DO IS REALLY THE LIFE BLOOD OF THE FIELD.

YOU KNOW, TRYING TO MAKE IT BETTER EVERY YEAR AND ALSO TRYING TO EDUCATE PEOPLE NOT ONLY IN THIS COUNTRY BUT OTHER COUNTRIES WITH OUR TECHNIQUES THAT WE DEVELOP RAPIDLY AND EFFICIENTLY.

YOU KNOW.

SO I THINK WORLDWIDE OPT THAT MOLG IS BECOMING BETTER AND BETTER.

I SEE HUGE ADVANCES EVERY SEVERAL MONTHS EVEN.

WELL, WITH ALL OF THESE ADVANCEMENTS THAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT, ARE WE POTENTIALLY HEADED INTO A WORLD WHERE BLINDLESS, AT LEAST AS WE KNEW IT, MIGHT BE A THING OF THE PAST, THAT IT MIGHT BE A CURABLE CONDITION OR COULD IT BE SOMETHING THAT COULD BE PREVENTED TO BEGIN WITH?

I THINK MUCH OF THE RESEARCH IS IN THE GENETICS.

MACKULAR DEGENERATION IS EXTREMELY HARD TO CURE.

SO I'D SAY THAT FOR SURGICAL TRAUMA, FOR INJURIES OR CATARACT SURGERY, WE'RE REACHING A LEVEL WHERE, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE DON'T HAVE TO SUFFER FROM BLINDLESS.

BUT RETINAL DISEASE IS EXTREMELY COMPLEX.

THAT IS AN AREA THAT WE'RE STILL WORKING VERY HARD ON.

TWO PLUS YEARS AGO, WE LAUNCHED THREE DIMENSIONAL ONLINE SURGICAL TRAINING, THREE DIMENSIONAL.

FIRST TIME IT'S EVER BEEN DONE SO THAT ANYBODY WITH A PC ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD CAN LOG ON TO A SITE CALLED McCOOL ONLINE 3D, CME, CONTINUING MEDICAL EDUCATION, AND WITH A SIMPLE PAIR OF 3D GOGGLES CAN GET THE SAME EXACT VIEW OF THE EYE THAT WE HAD WHEN WE DID THE SURGERY.

SO WE NOW CAN TRAIN PEOPLE REMOTELY, REMOTE TRAINING.

I MEAN, THE ONLY THING BETTER IS IF YOU HAD A ROBOT THAT YOU COULD SEND OUT THERE AND DO IT.

SO THEY GET TO SEE IN 3D THE EXACT PROCEDURE BECAUSE TRYING TO TRAIN PEOPLE, FIRST AT A DISTANCE AND SECOND USING TWO-DIMENSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY IS A LARGE STEP BELOW PROVIDING 3D.

I'M WONDERING.

YOU SPOKE A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE DELICACY OF THE TYPE OF SURGERIES THAT YOU DO, MICRO SURGERY.

AND I'M ALSO WONDERING, IS THIS BECOMING -- IS THIS STILL A VERY SMALL AND SPECIALIZED FIELD OR IS THIS SOMETHING YOU SEE GROWING MORE?

IN THE UNITED STATES, WE'RE FORTUNATE TO HAVE ENOUGH OF THE SPECIALISTS TO DELIVER EVEN THE, I'LL CALL IT TERTIARY CARE, WHICH MEANS EXTREMELY ADVANCED MICROSURGICAL PROCEDURES.

THERE ARE COUNTRIES THAT HAVE VERY, VERY LIMBED FACILITIES TO DO THIS.

AND WE NEED MORE TRAINING.

WE DO.

THERE IS A WORLDWIDE SHORTAGE OF HIGHLY SKILLED PHYSICIANS IN MANY, MANY SPECIALTIES.

WE HAVE PATIENTS TRAVELS TO NEW YORK FROM VIRTUALLY EVERY CONFIDENT TO UNDERGO PROCEDURES THAT WE PERFORM.

AND IT'S BEEN THAT WAY FOR DECADES.

I THINK CERTAIN PARTS OF THE WORLD ARE CAUGHT UP OR ARE CERTAINLY CATCHING UP AND OTHERS WHERE THEY'RE MORE FINANCIAL PROBLEMS THEY'RE JUST NOT DOING AS WELL.

BUT WE'RE NOW, AS I DISCUSSED EARLIER, WE'RE SPREADING THE EDUCATION.

I MEAN, THAT'S REALLY THE BASIS HERE.

YOU KNOW, WE HAVE THE TOOLS.

WE'VE GOT THE TECHNOLOGY.

WE HAVE THE KNOW HOW.

WE NEED TO SPREAD IT.

WE NEED TO GET IT OUT THERE.

AND THAT'S WHY, I DON'T KNOW, I CALL IT A LEGACY, BUT I'M AWFULLY PROUD OF WHAT WE HAVE ACCOMPLISHED OVER THE INTERNET TO TEACH THIS TO PEOPLE.

AND WE HAVE THOUSANDS OF OPTHALMOLOGISTS EVERY MONTH THROUGHOUT THE WORLD THAT WATCH THESE.

AND USE THEM AS A MAJOR PART OF THEIR TRAINING FOR THEIR SURGEONS IN TRAINING.

I'M WONDERING FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE, SINCE WE'RE STILL LEARNING SO MUCH ABOUT HOW THIS VIRUS INTERACTS WITH THE BODY, DO WE KNOW IF IT HAS ANY SORT OF AFFECTS ON OUR EYES OR OUR VISION SINCE IT SEEMS TO TOUCH JUST ABOUT EVERY OTHER SENSE?

YEAH.

LUCKILY, IT DOESN'T SEEM TO DO WITH ANY SIGNIFICANT INCIDENCE DAMAGE TO THE HUMAN EYES.

THERE IS SOME EVIDENCE THAT IT MIGHT BE POSSIBLE TO SPREAD IT THROUGH HUMAN TEARS, BUT THAT SEEMS TO OCCUR EXTREMELY RARELY.

SO THE EYES, WHILE THEY DON'T REMAIN UNSCATHED FROM MANY DISEASES, SEEM TO DO WELL IN THE ERA OF COVID, THANK GOODNESS.

WELL, I MEAN, AGAIN, I THINK IT IS THE LITTLE THINGS THAT WE HAVE LEARNED TO BE THANKFUL FOR.

DR. RJ McCOOL, I'M WONDERING IF THE PANDEMIC HAS HAD ANY EFFECT ON PATIENTS THAT YOU'RE ABLE TO ACTUALLY SEE AND WORK ON.

WE KNOW THAT THERE WAS A PERIOD WHERE PEOPLE WERE HESITANT TO TRY TO GET ANY MEDICAL CARE BECAUSE THERE WAS A FEAR OF BEING IN A MEDICAL SPACE GIVEN THE PANDEMIC.

AND NOW THAT SEEMS TO HAVE SUBSIDED A BIT.

I'M WONDERING IF, I GUESS, IS THERE A LONGER WAIT FOR PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO GET THE KIND OF EYE CARE THAT THEY NEED OR HAVE THINGS RETURNED AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE BACK TO NORMAL?

WELL, WHEN THE EPIDEMIC FIRST STARTED, IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT.

MOST OF OUR PATIENTS ARE AT LEAST 70 YEARS.

THEY'RE FEARFUL OF ANY ILLNESS, INCLUDING THE SIMPLE COMMON COLD.

AND, YOU KNOW, THEY DIDN'T WANT TO COME INTO THE OFFICE.

AND RIGHTFULLY SO.

IN FACT, I MYSELF WAS NOT A -- I WAS AFRAID FOR MYSELF.

I WAS AFRAID I WOULD SPREAD IT TO MY PATIENTS AND WE WOULD HAVE A HUGE PROBLEM.

SO, YOU KNOW, WITHIN THE FIRST FEW MONTHS YOU SAW PATIENTS THAT WERE VERY HESITANT TO COME IN.

THEY WOULD HAVE GLAUCOMA AND THEY WOULD NOT COME IN THE OFFICE FOR THEIR CHECKUPS AND SLOWLY RETURNED TO NORMAL.

NOW PATIENTS HAVE RETURNED TO THE DOCTOR'S OFFICE.

I THINK THROUGHOUT THE NEW YORK AREA TO A MUCH GREATER EXTENT.

THERE ARE STILL SOME PEOPLE THAT DON'T WANT TO COME IN, BUT THE ONES THAT REALLY NEED TO SEE THEIR DOCTOR ARE COMING IN TO BE SEEN.

YOU KNOW, THE DIFFICULTIES WE EXPERIENCED, THE REALLY SUBSTANTIAL AND SHOULD NOT BE UNDERESTIMATED.

EYE CHECKUPS ON AVERAGE, FOR THE AVERAGE PERSON ARE NOT NECESSARILY.

BUT FOR OTHER PEOPLE IT IS CRITICAL.

WITH THE VACCINATIONS TICKING UP, WE'RE SEEING PEOPLE GET BACK INTO THE OFFICE.

OF COURSE WITH THE PANDEMIC, WE ARE ALL LIKE WE ARE NOW INTERACTING MORE WITH OTHER PEOPLE THROUGH COMPUTERS.

AND THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF CONCERN ABOUT THE EFFECT OF LONG-TERM EXPOSURE TO A COMPUTER SCREEN ON YOUR EYES.

SO FROM YOUR PROFESSIONAL OPINION, WHAT WOULD YOU, I GUESS, RECOMMEND TO THE AVERAGE PERSON WHO MIGHT FIND THEMSELVES SPENDING NOW SIX HOURS, SEVEN MAYBE EVEN EIGHT IF YOU TRY TO TALK TO YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS A DAY STARING AT A COMPUTER SCREEN.

AND DR. RICHARD McCOOL, YOU FIRST?

SO THE GOOD NEWS THERE, WHEN COMPUTERS FIRST CAME OUT, EVERYBODY WAS TERRIFIED THAT IT WAS GOING TO CAUSE EVERY DISEASE KNOWN TO MAN FROM EYE DISEASE TO BRAIN TUMORS.

THE GOOD NEWS IS THEY DON'T.

BUT THEY'RE GREAT TOOLS FOR EDUCATION, BUT THEY DON'T CAUSE DISEASE.

SO WHAT DOES CAUSE A LOT OF PREVENTABLE ILLNESS IS SOME REALLY SIMPLE STUFF.

THE TWO MOST COMMON WOULD BE TREATING HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND UNTREATED DIABETES.

AND THE DIAGNOSIS OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, MOST OF US IN OUR LIFETIME WILL HAVE -- MOST OF US WILL DEVELOP SOME HIGH PRESSURE.

THAT'S AN AMAZING STATEMENT.

AND AT LEAST HALF OF US WON'T BE PROPERLY TREATED FOR IT.

IT'S HUGE.

SO HOW DO YOU PROTECT YOURSELF?

YOU KNOW WHAT HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE DAMAGES?

EVERYTHING.

YOUR BRAIN, YOUR EYES, YOUR KIDNEYS, YOU NAME IT.

IT INCREASES YOUR RISK FOR ALZHEIMER'S.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE, FOLKS.

HERE'S HOW YOU DO THAT.

BUY YOURSELF A BLOOD PRESSURE CUFF.

TAKE IT AT HOME AND WRITE IT DOWN MORNING, AFTERNOON AND NIGHT.

A LOT OF US ARE SITTING AROUND AT HOME LOOKING FOR THINGS TO DO.

WRITE IT DOWN.

BRING THAT BOOK TO YOUR DOCTOR WHEN YOU GO FOR YOUR CHECKUP BECAUSE JUST GOING IN AND HAVING YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE MEASURED ONCE A YEAR, THAT'S REALLY NOT VERY MEANINGFUL.

BLOOD PRESSURE CAN JUMP UP AND DOWN IN SECONDS.

YOU BRING THAT IN, GET PROPERLY CARED FOR WITH YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE, THAT WILL PROBABLY DO MORE FOR YOUR OVERALL GENERAL HEALTH, LONGEVITY AND QUALITY ALIKE THAN ANYTHING ELSE I CAN TELL YOU.

DOCTOR R.J. McCOOL, WE HAVE ABOUT 60 SECONDS LEFT.

BUT, YEAH, ANY ADVICE FOR JUST BASIC CARE?

I DO THINK ONE THING ABOUT SCREEN TIME THAT IS IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE.

CHILDREN ARE SPENDING A LOT OF TIME STARING AT FILMS, SCREENS.

THERE IS AN EPIDEMIC OF MYOPIA, SPECIFICALLY IN ASIA.

WE HAVE DONE INVESTIGATIVE WORK ON IT AND PART OF IT THEY THINK IS POTENTIALLY THE FACT THERE IS NOT ENOUGH EXPOSURE TO SUNLIGHT.

BUT THE OTHER PART IS STARING AT SCREENS.

I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOUR CHILDREN TO GET THEM AWAY FROM THE SCREENS.

THEY SHOULD KNOW TO TAKE A BREAK, TO LOOK OUTSIDE THE WINDOW, TO DO SOMETHING ELSE FOR A FEW MOMENTS AND NOT JUST STARE AT THEIR PHONE OR SCREENS ON END.

THAT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT.

FOR ADULTS IT DOESN'T MATTER.

YOUR EYES ARE WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO BE.

FOR PEOPLE OF DEVELOPMENTAL AGE, WE WANT DOING SOMETHING OTHER THAN STARING AT THAT SCREEN NONSTOP FOR HOURS AT END.

I THINK THAT IS EXCELLENT ADVICE AND PROBABLY CHALLENGING ADVICE AT THE SAME TIME FOR PARENTS AT THIS PARTICULAR MOMENT.

I WANT TO THANK BOTH OF MY GUESTS.

BOTH OPTHALMOLOGISTS, BOTH LEADERS IN THE FIELD OF EYE CARE AND SURGERIES OF THE HUMAN EYE.

THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US AND EXPLAINING SOME OF THE WHAT THE NEW ADVANCEMENTS ARE IN THE FIELD.

THANKS VERY MUCH.

IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G.

PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION, AND BY JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

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