7. Skip the techno-babble
When you describe options, it’s important to communicate in a way that is understandable. Most patients don’t even understand the concept of astigmatism, so if you start throwing around terms like “intraoperative aberrometry,” “multifocality,” and “femtosecond laser,” you will likely lose them. I use simpler terminology and focus on the outcomes rather than the technology.
Here’s a script of what I say:
“Look, there are two ways to do cataract surgery: There is the traditional way, and it works great, but most people still need glasses. You have the opportunity when you have cataract surgery to use more modern technology—what we call ‘laser-assisted surgery.’ That term encompasses a lot of different technology that I’m not going to go into in detail, but let’s call it the ‘fancy cataract surgery.’ Basically, it allows you to minimize your need for glasses and gives you better uncorrected vision so when you wake up in the morning, you are seeing better because you don’t need the glasses as much.”
If a patient is interested (and is also a candidate for a presbyopia-correcting IOL), I go on to explain further:
“And there are two options with the laser-assisted surgery: We can focus only on distance, where you’ll still need reading glasses for everything within arm’s reach. Or we can give you more of a range, so you can see well at a distance, like for driving and watching TV, but also be able to see the computer and cell phone and read medium-sized print (12- to 14-point font, Fig 7). Our goal with that second option would be that for most of your day you wouldn’t really need readers at all.”
It’s a quick and simple explanation that focuses on what patients care about most.