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President Won’t Need Eye Drops After All, Doctors Decide

April 26, 1990

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush can discontinue twice-daily treatment with eye drops even though he has a mild form of glaucoma, the White House says after getting a second opinion on the president’s eyes.

Dr. Burton Lee, the White House physician, made the announcement after Bush was examined by two glaucoma specialists during an hour-long visit to Bethesda Naval Medical Center on Wednesday.

Lee said the examination confirmed the finding, made by other doctors during Bush’s annual checkup at the hospital April 12, that the president has ″one type of early glaucoma.″

″Extensive testing of the eye including detailed photographs once again revealed no abnormalities and no visual loss,″ the White House doctor said. ″It was decided to stop the Betagan eye drops and follow him closely for now, on no treatment.″

After the physical exam, Bush began using the medicine every 12 hours. His doctors said he would need to take it for the rest of his life.

The examination Wednesday was conducted by Dr. Richard Brubaker of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and Dr. Harry Quigley of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

″It was the experts’ opinion that the medication was not warranted,″ said Stephen Hart, a deputy White House press secretary. He said Bush had suffered no side effects from the medication.

Hart said the decision to take the president off the medication was ″just simply a difference of opinion″ with the other doctors. ″There is no progression or regression″ in the glaucoma, he said. ″There is no change in his eyes.″

Bush wore dark glasses as he emerged from the hospital, and flashed a thumbs-up sign to reporters as he was driven past them in his limousine.

Lee’s statement said, ″The physical findings were reviewed by the consultants and the diagnosis of exfoliation syndrome was confirmed with slightly increased intra-ocular pressure noted again in the left eye, one type of early glaucoma.″

The April 12 examination was conducted by Lee, assisted by several staff doctors at Bethesda, including Capt. Ralph Sawyer, an ophthalmologist.

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