Better Than Ever

Expertise proves critical during challenging cataract surgery.

Now that he’s retired from his dental practice, Dr. Henry A. Fischer plans to devote most of his time to a cause that has driven him since he was a young man: the education of children and young adults on the uniqueness of the Constitution of the United States.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Dr. Henry A. Fischer

“That’s my hobby,” says the 83-year-old, who is now in his 19th year as president of The American Security Council Foundation, a non-profit organization that has also developed programs and strategies included in US defense and foreign policy agendas.

“I joined the foundation in the 1970s after I read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s book, The Gulag Archipelago,” Dr. Fischer explains. “The book describes how the Russians treated the people they held in their forced-labor camps, which was absolutely awful.

“Ever since then, I’ve worked to stop the Soviet system from expanding and to help our young people understand how we have the most successful form of government ever created. The schools do a good job with that, but we try to help them a little bit.”

In addition to devoting time to his hobby, Dr. Fischer is also involved in some land development projects. Not long ago, just before he retired and began delving deeper into those endeavors, he detected some noticeable changes in his vision.

“My long-distance vision was fading,” he remembers. “I started having major problems with my up-close vision as well, but that wasn’t as much of an issue for me because I always wore strong, multi-magnitude glasses whenever I did any chair work as a dentist.

“Those problems had actually been coming on for a while, but I waited until the bitter end, until the street signs became too blurry to read and I needed more light to read anything up close, before I went to see someone about it.”

Like Father, Like Daughter

Dr. Fischer’s decision to address his vision problems prompted a visit to the Center for Advanced Eye Care in Vero Beach, where his eye doctor soon put him in the hands of Sarah S. Khodadadeh, MD, a Yale-trained glaucoma specialist and cataract surgeon.

“I considered it an honor to treat Dr. Fischer, because my father was a dentist,” Dr. Khodadadeh says. “Because of that, I have a great deal of appreciation for the detailed work that dentists do and the level of skill that’s required to do that work.

“I used to work with my father in his office while growing up and actually thought about going into dentistry at one point. I eventually went into ophthalmology, obviously, but the two are similar in that some of the instruments are the same and it’s all very delicate work.”

Dr. Khodadadeh began her work on Dr. Fischer in January, after a thorough examination revealed the cause of his failing vision was cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens that develops naturally as part of the aging process in people 55 and older.

That development is most often a result of either a breakdown of the eye’s lens fibers or a clumping of the eye’s proteins, or both. The breakdowns usually result in blurred vision, an increase in the eye’s sensitivity to light and or a reduction in the vibrancy of colors.

Though cataracts and their symptoms tend to develop quite slowly, they can be corrected quickly and easily through an outpatient procedure where the natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens, or IOL.

Standard IOLs correct a patient’s vision primarily for distance, meaning the patient may still need to wear glasses for reading. Patients can also have one eye fixed for distance vision while the other is corrected for reading, a process called monovision.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Dr. Fischer has served nearly two decades as president of The American Security Council Foundation.

A third IOL option is multifocal lenses that correct the eyes for both distance and up-close vision. The multifocal option, which works in much the same way that multifocal contact lenses do, is designed to leave the patient completely glasses free.

The IOL that will best suit the patient is decided upon during a consultation between the patient and the doctor, who will take into consideration the patient’s lifestyle goals before making a recommendation.

Complex Case Solved

Dr. Khodadadeh had just such a consultation with Dr. Fischer, but not before her examination revealed some challenges, not the least of which was an astigmatism, or irregular shaping, in his left eye.

Dr. Khodadadeh also found that Dr. Fischer had hyperopia, meaning he could not see images clearly either in the distance or up close. Further complicating matters was the fact Dr. Fischer suffered from a condition called intraoperative floppy iris syndrome.

Intraoperative floppy iris syndrome causes the iris, which is the colored part of the eye, to flop around unnaturally during a procedure such as cataract surgery. The unusual movement can make it difficult to dilate the eyes, which is required during the surgery.

To reduce the problems associated with Dr. Fischer’s intraoperative floppy iris syndrome, Dr. Khodadadeh used a special medication designed to limit the billowing of the iris during his surgery.

To correct the astigmatism, she implanted a uniquely shaped IOL called a toric lens in Dr. Fischer’s left eye that corrected his intermediate vision, meaning the distance at which he reads a menu or looks at a computer. She then fit him with a standard IOL implant in his right eye that perfected his distance vision.

The results, Dr. Fischer says, are amazing. He still wears glasses for reading, but the foggy view he once had of images far off in the distance or of anything that was arm’s length or further from his eyes is now crystal clear and bright.

“I’m seeing 20/20 now and have perfect vision,” he raves. “I am honestly seeing better than ever before. I can read street signs and drive without glasses, which is really a big improvement for me. I couldn’t be happier.

“And I can’t thank Dr. Khodadadeh enough for all she’s done for me. She did a great job, and I was very impressed with her. She’s very thorough and dedicated to taking the proper steps and going about things slowly, which I appreciate.

“I also like that she involved me in every step of the process. She’s a tremendous surgeon, very skilled and you could not have someone more pleasant, caring and compassionate helping you with a problem like this. I highly recommend her.”

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