Maj. Dr. Nuthida Wongwirawat, Ophthalmologist – Pediatric Ophthalmology
After graduating from the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Dr. Nuthida did further studies in ophthalmology at Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University. She then received a sub-board certificate in Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus from George Washington University, USA. After that, she served as a government officer in the military. At present, besides working full-time at Bumrungrad Hospital, she is also a special lecturer and consultant at Phramongkutklao Hospital.
Q: What are your reasons for choosing pediatric ophthalmology?
A: During my medical practice I met many children with serious eye problems. I saw families try very hard to adjust to the visual condition of their loved ones. Moreover, I knew that there were still, very few pediatric ophthalmologists in Thailand, most likely because eye examination in children is especially complicated. I saw it as a challenge and that’s why I decided to study pediatric ophthalmology.
Q: What are your views on giving treatment?
A: When I practiced at the Army Medical School, one of my patients came from a family with a history of cataracts that caused his mother to go blind. The boy was about eight years old and already suffered from the disease. If left untreated, he would have gone blind as well.
He was already studying Braille at a school for the blind when I met him. After the surgery, he could see much better and his mother was able to transfer him to a regular school. As with any medical condition, the earlier it gets detected and properly treated, the higher the chance of a better future for a child. I was so happy that I played a part in changing his path in life.
Q: What are your work principles?
A: Work from the heart and place high importance on communication. We have to put ourselves in our patients’ shoes. No one wants to go to see a doctor if it is not necessary. Patients need an answer, so I have to answer in the clearest way. In the case of sick children, I have to communicate clearly to the young patients and their parents, so that everybody understands thoroughly.
Dr. Maytinee Sirimaharaj, Ophthalmologist – Retinal Surgery
Dr. Maytinee is a retina specialist who has performed retina surgery on thousands of patients. She graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, followed by specialty studies in Ophthalmology at Ramathibodi Hospital and undertook fellowship training in retinal medicine at Sydney Eye Hospital in Australia. She worked in government service as an ophthalmologist for 17 years before joining Bumrungrad.
Q: How do you like working at Bumrungrad?
A: The strength here is the holistic care. Doctors from all branches work together as a team. We care for our patients entirely—not just the eyes—because most of the patients with retinal diseases are elderly and also have diabetes, high blood pressure, and hyperlipidemia. To be able to consult with doctors in other branches before making a decision on treatment facilitates all the difficult cases.
Q: How do you feel about the changes in treatment technology?
A: The technology for retinal diseases has changed considerably in the past 10 years, along with the devices for preoperative assessment and surgical tools. Nowadays, we spend less time in surgery, with better accuracy and success rates. We can perform laser treatment faster with less pain. Medicines are also more efficient, such as drug injections to the eye for age-related macular degeneration, which used to be untreatable. I consider myself lucky to work with such advanced medical technology in this field.
Q: What is your work philosophy?
A: When I was a teacher, I always told junior ophthalmologists that it’s very important for a medical professional to have both ability and virtue. Cold-hearted, but skillful doctors or kind-hearted, but unskillful doctors can be harmful to patients and colleagues—and themselves. Therefore, do whatever you can to make yourself a competent and compassionate doctor at all times. Keeping up to date with advancements in technology and knowledge is also a must.
Dr. Pinita Wanumkarng, Ophthalmologist – Glaucoma & Cataracts
Specializing in glaucoma, Dr. Pinita graduated as a Doctor of Medicine from Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, before she undertook further studies in Ophthalmology at Phramongkutklao College of Medicine, with a sub-board in glaucoma studies at Ramathibodi Hospital.
Q: What was your reason to specialize in glaucoma?
A: Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness, after cataracts. Surgery can cure cataract blindness but there is no cure for glaucoma. It is a severe disease that afflicts four percent of the Thai population. It’s a challenging disease, and I want to help prevent patients from going blind.
Q: What are the challenges in working in Ophthalmology?
A: The eye is a complex organ with many parts, susceptible to many possible diseases. Explaining its complexity to patients is quite difficult. In the past, I would draw diagrams for them, but it was still hard for them to understand. Now, we can use technology to help explain and visualize it better.
Taking care of patients with only one working eye is also a challenge. Many come in for treatment from abroad. We must do our best to help them feel as comfortable as possible, in addition to treating them. Accurate communication is vital. We use interpreters to ensure that international patients understand their doctors clearly – in their native languages. I communicate in English to the international patients, but I intend to learn new languages, so I can explain the treatments to all my patients myself.
Q: What are your work principles?
A: Apart from treating patients, we also have to monitor them – especially patients with glaucoma, because they must live with it for the rest of their lives. But if we detect it early on, we can immediately start slowing its progression. Patients might seemingly be in good health when they come in for an eye check-up. But I always remind myself (as they are placing their chins on the rest) that I have to check for every single possibility of an abnormality, despite their assurances that they see just fine. This is because, if I find an abnormality, we can start treatment before it’s too late.
Dr. Keerati Pungpapong, Ophthalmologist – Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and Cataract Surgery
Dr. Keerati is one of the most renowned specialists in Oculoplastic and Cataract Surgery, having received a fellowship in Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery from Chulalongkorn University Hospital and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, USA. He has also been a part-time instructor at Chulalongkorn University Hospital, Ramathibodi Hospital, and Thammasat University Hospital for over five years, before joining Bumrungrad.
Q: Why are you interested in the field of Oculoplastic Surgery?
A: During my residency training, I had the opportunity to experience this specific field and was deeply impressed with the challenging work and special expertise that was required. Furthermore, there were not many people who were well-trained in this specialty. I thought it would greatly benefit many patients if I become a doctor in this field.
Q: Which are the most challenging cases you have encountered during your practice?
A: The most challenging cases I have encountered are the cases which deal with malignant tumors in the eye sockets, as those cases require a multi-specialty approach. This means that many specialists from different fields have to work together in order to effectively treat those cases.
Q: What is the most memorable case you have encountered during your practice?
A: When I was in ophthalmology residency training, I did surgery on an elderly woman in her 90s, who had a very dense cataract. She went from barely being able to see anything to regaining her full, complete eyesight. After the surgery, she was extremely thankful and had tears in her eyes, saying that she was very grateful, as she was then able to see her newborn great grandson for the very first time. It wasn’t a very difficult case, but the most memorable one I’ve ever had.
Q: What are your thoughts on working at Bumrungrad?
A: I highly appreciate the experienced personnel, the advanced technological equipment and the safety and quality in providing treatment to patients. Many patients come to Bumrungrad with difficult and complex diseases. Working here offers me many opportunities to challenge myself.