Meet a Specialist: Kristine Tan Lo, M.D.
Dr. Kristine Lo is a member of Mass. Eye and Ear’s Comprehensive Ophthalmology and Cataract Consultation Service. Originally from the Philippines, she traces her first memory about ophthalmology to fifth grade, when she began wearing glasses.
“Whenever we went to see the eye doctor, I was always so curious,” she says. “I remember seeing a cataract surgery pamphlet in my doctor’s office, and wondering, ‘How do they do that?’”
To satisfy her curiosity, Dr. Lo trained to become an ophthalmologist and now practices at Mass. Eye and Ear’s main campus on Charles Street. In addition to providing routine eye care for her patients, she evaluates patients’ eyes, provides medical and surgical treatment of cataracts, and cares for patients with glaucoma, blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), conjunctivitis, and dry eye.
Dr. Lo enjoys being able to provide her patients with the best possible care, no matter what vision problem has brought them to Mass. Eye and Ear.
“Comprehensive Ophthalmology is the first stop for new patients,” Dr. Lo explains. “We provide treatment for a variety of ophthalmic issues. If a patient needs more specialized care, we refer him or her to specialists at Mass. Eye and Ear. With glaucoma, for example, we provide screening and medical treatment. If a patient needs surgery, we refer them to the Glaucoma Service.”
Dr. Lo completed her undergraduate education in the Philippines and earned her medical degree at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, where she completed a residency in Ophthalmology.
After completing a Cornea and External Disease fellowship in the Philippines, Dr. Lo gained additional surgical experience in ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery though a clinical fellowship at Mass. Eye and Ear. Subsequently, she graduated from the Harvard Medical School Ophthalmology Residency Training Program.
Dr. Lo says educating patients about their eye conditions is one of her top priorities. “If a patient understands what’s going on with his or her eyes, they are more likely to follow their recommended treatment regimen. Explaining things in detail takes more time, but it’s very important.”
One of her patients had poor vision for years without understanding why. “She was a young Filipino woman,” Dr. Lo recalls, “and she really appreciated that we could speak the same language. During the exam, I discovered that she had previously never had eye care. I also saw that she had corneal dystrophy, which can require a corneal transplant. Fortunately, I referred her to our Cornea Service so she could get the care that she needed.”
Not every case is so straightforward, Dr. Lo says. “When a patient has cataracts, the decision to perform surgery depends on how functionally impaired the patient’s vision has become. If you can’t read or watch TV, it’s probably time for cataract surgery. But some people’s activities don’t require perfect vision. It’s important to get to know each patient before making a decision to operate.”
For some patients, the decision to perform cataract surgery is an obvious one. For example, a veteran came to see Dr. Lo in a wheelchair. He had bad cataracts in both eyes and only had enough vision to detect motion. He was unable to care for himself and lived in a nursing home. This was a clear case where the benefits outweighed the risks, and the patient decided to move forward with the surgery. Radically changed by the cataract surgery, the veteran regained some of his vision the day after surgery. “A week later, he walked into the clinic with a haircut and new clothes,” Dr. Lo recalls. “He was so happy. Eventually, he had 20/20 vision.”
In addition to seeing patients, Dr. Lo is involved in the training of residents in the clinic and OR. Having previously conducted research on topics related to corneal disease and oculoplastics, she is now working on projects focused on comprehensive ophthalmology and cataract surgery.
Contact Dr. Lo’s office at 617-573-3202
View Dr. Lo’s online bio for more information.
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