Meet a Specialist: Carolyn Kloek, MD
Dr. Carolyn Kloek, Clinical Director of Ophthalmology at Mass. Eye and Ear, Longwood, specializes in comprehensive ophthalmology and cataracts. She provides consultation and treatment for a wide range of ocular disorders, including glaucoma, macular degeneration, eye trauma, and dry eye. However, she is particularly fascinated by the treatment of cataracts. “Cataract surgery is incredibly satisfying,” she explains. “Even though I perform cataract surgery all the time, the feeling of being able to dramatically improve a patient’s quality of life is always wonderful.”
Her passion for her work dates back to her days as a Harvard Medical School student, when the experience of a family member prompted her to focus on ophthalmology. Her great uncle needed cataract surgery and, once he recovered, declared the treatment “amazing.”
“It was really life-changing for him,” Dr. Kloek recalls. “Activities that were once problematic for him – such as reading and driving – suddenly became a lot easier.” Seeing the transformation in his life was one of many factors that inspired Dr. Kloek to become an ophthalmologist. Today, much of her clinical practice at Mass. Eye and Ear is devoted to providing medical and surgical care to patients with cataracts.
According to Dr. Kloek, engaging patients in the decision-making process about their care is an essential part of treatment. This is particularly true when making decisions about the timing of cataract surgery, or even whether to proceed with surgery at all. Often, patients will opt to not have surgery if the cataracts are small and do not significantly impair vision or activity.
In some cases, however, a patient’s declining quality of life may necessitate moving forward. This was the case for one of Dr. Kloek's patients -- a man in his fifties, who was in the early stages of the disease. At first, he did not seem to need urgent cataract removal because his cataract was not advanced on examination and his vision was still good. But after the man explained that he was a pilot and required the best possible vision, Dr. Kloek and her patient decided to proceed with the surgery rather than wait. The patient was thrilled after cataract surgery and felt that having the surgery allowed him to continue flying.
In addition to providing top-notch patient care, Dr. Kloek is also passionately committed to teaching. As Director of the Harvard Medical School (HMS) Residency Training Program in Ophthalmology, she has significant involvement in shaping the curriculum and direction of ophthalmology education and training for HMS students and residents. She has served as a preceptor to medical students and teaches Mass. Eye and Ear ophthalmology residents in the clinic and the operating room. Watching students develop the requisite skill set under her tutelage is exciting, Dr. Kloek says. In 2008, she was awarded the department’s prestigious Teacher of the Year Award for her outstanding mentoring skills and contributions to medical education.
Not surprisingly, Dr. Kloek’s research is primarily focused on advancing the surgical training of medical students and residents. One recent innovation is the introduction of cataract surgery training earlier in the residency through a series of OR learning modules. Studies have already proven that this new approach increases both the competence and general skill level of ophthalmology residents.
As a devoted clinician and medical educator, Dr. Kloek is convinced that the focus on academic excellence for young physicians training at Mass. Eye and Ear enhances the quality of care for patients. “The teaching process makes for a more thoughtful treatment process,” she notes, “and that enables the best possible care for patients.”
Contact Dr. Kloek's office at 617-573-3202.
View Dr. Kloek's online bio for more information.