Meet a Specialist: Alice Lorch, M.D.
A member of the Comprehensive Ophthalmology and Cataract Consultation Service, Dr. Lorch is based at Mass. Eye and Ear, Longwood, where she provides routine eye care and surgical treatment, particularly for patients with cataracts. For patients who require more specialized care, Dr. Lorch provides referrals to other Mass. Eye and Ear eye care providers.
“Being part of the Comprehensive Ophthalmology team is analogous to being a primary care doctor, only for your eyes,” she says. “I treat patients of all ages, and I truly enjoy being in a setting where I can develop long-term relationships with many of my patients.”
Prior to joining the service, Dr. Lorch served as Chief Resident and Director of Mass. Eye and Ear’s Trauma Service.
“As Chief Resident, I provided care for patients as well as trained and mentored our 24 Ophthalmology residents,” she explains. “Also, I oversaw Mass. Eye and Ear’s Trauma Unit, which provides surgical treatment for severe eye injuries for patients throughout the New England area. It was a big responsibility, and I was honored to serve in that position.”
Dr. Lorch recalls one early morning in the OR, 3:00 am to be precise, when she and her surgical team treated an elderly man who had fallen and hit his eye on the corner of a table. “In the Trauma Unit, many people come in injured from car accidents or violent situations,” she explains. “This man, like many of our patients, was confused and scared. But, we were able to assuage his fears and help him in a very tangible way.”
Given her Trauma Unit expertise, Dr. Lorch’s clinical focus at Mass. Eye and Ear, Longwood includes surgical treatment for complex cataracts, which can be a result of ophthalmic trauma. “A lot of complex cataracts arise in the context of trauma,” she says. “For example, if a patient gets hit in the eye, the force of the blow can loosen the lens in his or her eye. If the lens is jostled, it may settle in the wrong position. So instead of that being a routine cataract surgery, it becomes more complicated because of trauma.”
Early symptoms of cataracts include halos, glare, blurred vision, and double-vision. If cataracts are diagnosed early, and without trauma, a routine surgery is all that is needed. “We’re lucky enough to have good eye care in the United States, so when cataracts arise, we can remove them early.” Advanced cataracts – which typically present with marked vision loss and a visible, white, milky spot on the lens – are rather rare in the U.S., Dr. Lorch explains. “But there are lots of people – like many of my international patients – whose cataracts have hardened, like a rock, because they’ve never had access to routine eye care.”
Dr. Lorch, who also speaks Spanish, has worked overseas, making her particularly well-prepared to care for patients who may have had limited access to expert health care, including ophthalmic care. She spent two months helping to conduct research in Guatemala at a small rural hospital. Later she spent six months in Santiago, Chile as part of a project aimed at improving pediatric health outcomes. She has also worked at a small university hospital in Thailand on a World Health Organization-supported effort to reduce prescription errors for ophthalmology patients.
A graduate of Yale University, Dr. Lorch completed her MD and Ophthalmology residency at Harvard Medical School. Passionate about international health care and Ophthalmology, Dr. Lorch notes that “there’s a huge international need for ophthalmologists, especially cataract specialists, because cataracts remain one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide,” adding, “I’m glad to be an ophthalmologist who can help people both in the United States and worldwide.”
Contact Dr. Lorch’s office at 617-573-3202.
View Dr. Lorch’s online bio for more information.
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