As many as 3.5 million Americans will have cataracts surgery this year. Most of the time, surgery fixes the problem, but for three-percent of the patients there is a surgical side effect that does not go away on its own. For those patients, eye surgeons at Washington University in St. Louis have devised a cutting-edge way to restore clear vision.
Thirty-nine-year-old Sarah Hickey is mom to two active little guys. She has no time right now to slow down. Eye trouble was the last thing she expected.
“Six or seven years ago I noticed that I was having a lot of trouble driving at night,” Hickey said.
Doctors diagnosed Hickey with cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye. She opted for surgery to remove them, but within a few days she noticed a problem in one of them.
“I almost immediately had a shadow that developed on the lower corner of my eye,” she said.
Dr. Arsham Sheybani is an eye specialist at Washington University in St. Louis. He says this side effect goes away for most patients, but not all.
“The way the light bends there casts a shadow on the retina, but then patients perceive this as a crescent shadow toward the side,” Sheybani said.
New glasses didn’t help Hickey. Neither did a repositioning of the lens. That’s when Dr. Sheybani devised a new procedure, he describes as an optic truncation. Using tiny instruments, he lifted the lens up.
“With very, very small scissors we cut the part of the lens that I thought was causing the light to bend abnormally,” Sheybani said.
Then surgeons put Hickey’s lens back into place. The entire procedure took ten minutes.
“When we took the patch off the next day, immediately there was no shadow,” Hickey said.
A quick fix for Hickey’s eye with long-lasting results.
Dr. Sheybani says he and his colleagues performed the shaving procedure over a year ago and Hickey has had no problem with her lens since that time — the shadow has not come back.