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ML: Tell us about yourself professionally and how you ended up in Monaco.
FAP: After international work placements in public hospitals – Royal Berkshire Eye Hospital in the UK and Spain’s Hospital Ramon Y Cajal – during my specialty studies I won an Erasmus Scholarship to complete my training in St Roch Hospital in Nice and Monaco’s CHPG, lead by Dr Betis.
Once I’d completed the Erasmus year I was offered a temporary contract at St Roch, a contract that in fact went on for ten years, which gave me the chance to meet local eye doctors. Then, four years ago, I had an opportunity to enter a private practice and I seized it. At the same time a position at CHPG became available and I decided that, as a Monaco resident, my practice plus CHPG would be an ideal combination, and would save me from commuting to Nice three days a week.
ML: What made you decide to specialise in eye and vision care as an ophthalmologist? What studies did you have to complete?
FAP: First of all, you need 6 years of medical school to become a doctor and surgeon. After a degree in medicine, you need to win a place in an ophthalmologist speciality school and this is really difficult, as places are very limited.
ML: Do you think people, in general, take good of their eyes?
FAP: Not enough, a consultation every year is strongly recommended. Eye problems are increasing, and yet people are more likely to dismiss symptoms of eye problems, and to delay seeking medical help — a “dangerous game” that may have serious health implications. The way that people perceive their symptoms and the point at which they are moved to seek medical help can vary widely, but too often patients arrive too late.
ML: What is the biggest mistake people make when choosing eye glasses?
FAP: When they look at the aesthetics of eyeglasses and not at the quality of the products, I believe this is a recurring problem with both men and women nowadays.
ML: Laser surgery today is very common. What are the risks involved and who is a good candidate?
FAP: Risks are minimal in particular if all the diagnostics and pre-operatory scan are correctly done. It’s an effective solution for a range of refractive disorders, including myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness) and astigmatism, provided that that you have a healthy eye and passed all the tests to confirm integrity and perfect health of the eye.
Laser eye surgery involves the use of a laser to vaporise parts of the cornea in order to reshape it and correct visual impairments. Every type of surgical procedure carries with it a number of risks. I have been carrying out laser eye surgery for ten years and the procedure has become safer and more effective over the years, and the technology behind it is constantly improving.
ML: We understand that you offer a procedure not found elsewhere locally. Can you explain?
FAP: Eye dryness or dry eye occurs when the quantity and/or quality of tears fails to keep the surface of the eye adequately lubricated. The risk of developing dry eye increases with advancing age and women have a higher prevalence of dry eye compared with men. Dry eye causes a scratchy sensation or the feeling that something is in the eye. Other symptoms include stinging or burning, episodes of excess tearing that follow periods of dryness, discharge, pain, and redness in the eye. People with dry eye may also feel as if their eyelids are heavy and may experience blurred vision, at my practice we have invested in machinery that cures dry eye and no other practice has currently this machinery in Southern France. I even have patients coming from Switzerland to get cured.
ML: What is the advantage of being a woman in business?
FAP: There is very little advantage in my view. Women have to add, by default, a ballast to their schedule as tradition and culture impose upon us to cook, to take care of the children and their homework, do the housework etc … in the end, if we succeed there is great reward and satisfaction.
ML: How do you organise your day?
FAP: It’s a military organisation with my husband that leaves little room for improvising. We have two kids who play tennis at the Monaco Tennis Club and Piatti Tennis Center in Bordighera, Italy. My son also plays forward on the USCA team. If you factor in training and tournaments and my time divided between the practice at the Alcazar, CHPG and eye laser surgery clinic, you end up with no room for error and planning becomes essential. A babysitter allows us to cope with our daily organisation and weekly schedule.
ML: How would you describe the female community in Monaco?
FAP: There are some very active and very successful women in Monaco, although personally I have little available time as you can see. We invest our time with our kids and family.
ML: What is your favourite event in Monaco?
FAP: My favourite event in Monaco is the Rose Ball in March at the Salle des Etoiles. I wish I could attend every year.
ML: As you celebrate your birthday today – Happy Birthday!, by the way – can you tell us where is your favourite place to have a coffee with a friend?
FAP: Definitely my favourite spot for coffee is the Monaco Yacht Club deck.
Article first published May 17, 2018.
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