Using laser and lenses to clear foggy vision.
With severe astigmatism, Sherri Fox had difficulty seeing near, far, and everywhere in between, so she’s worn eyeglasses since she was in second grade. She visited an eye care professional regularly for prescription updates, but this year, she decided to have a specialist examine her eyes.
“In the past, I always went to an optician, but decided to go to an ophthalmologist,” describes Sherri. “I went for a normal check-up, not realizing I was having problems. Lo and behold, I find out I have glaucoma in one eye and cataracts in both eyes.
“Cataracts are sneaky,” offers Sherri. Hers came on so slowly that she didn’t realize how much impact they were having on her vision. She did notice one issue that stood out.
“My biggest difficulty was driving at night,” she explains. “I could still drive at night as long as it wasn’t raining, but if it was raining, the combination of that and the halos around the headlights of oncoming cars made it very difficult.
“Things were definitely not as sharp. It was almost like I was seeing everything through a foggy, tinted lens, which was exactly what was going on.”
The ophthalmologist who gave Sherri a thorough examination was Pooja Khator, MD, at Coastal Eye Institute. The only thing that impressed Sherri more than her diagnosis was the physician who gave it to her.
“Dr. Khator was very intelligent and very friendly,” notes Sherri. “She really listened to what my issues were and worked to make sure I was comfortable with what we were going to do about them, and that I fully understood everything.”
“Getting cataract surgery at Coastal Eye Institute is the best thing I ever did.” – Sherri Fox
Dr. Khator began treatment of Sherri’s glaucoma and recommended surgery to remove her cataracts. She also suggested using the latest technology, the femtosecond laser, and Toric replacement lenses to correct her astigmatism.
Dr. Khator is among the ophthalmic surgeons at Coastal Eye Institute who use the femtosecond laser to assist with cataract surgery, when appropriate. The femtosecond laser can perform some steps of the surgery more precisely than even experienced surgeons can do by hand.
“Some patients hear laser and mistakenly think the laser does the whole surgery; it does not,” clarifies Dr. Khator. “The laser does the first few steps of surgery. It makes the initial incision into the eye and the initial opening in the cataract. The laser then breaks up the cataract into several pieces. It can also be used to make incisions directly on the cornea to correct astigmatism.”
The surgeon still enters the eye, removes the cataract, and positions the intraocular lens.
The femtosecond laser is more precise, and its results are identical each time. The surgeon sets the laser’s parameters based on how large he or she needs the opening in the eye to be, which varies with the patient and the replacement lens chosen.
“Not everyone is a candidate for the laser,” emphasizes Dr. Khator. “If the patient’s pupil does not dilate well, using the laser is not a safe option. There are also other eye conditions that preclude the use of the laser.”
The doctor notes that it’s critical for the surgeon and patient to have an honest conversation about the patient’s goals for surgery. By doing this, Dr. Khator knew just how to manage Sherri’s procedure and which replacement lens to choose.
Dr. Khator and Sherri chose Toric
Toric lens implants are designed for patients with cataracts who also have astigmatism, an irregular, oval shape to the cornea. Using the femtosecond laser, along with a Toric lens, at the time of cataract surgery can correct the irregularity in the cornea without the need for additional surgery. This was a good option for Sherri.
“Sherri works on a computer, and she was having difficulty seeing it,” describes Dr. Khator. “After talking with her, it was clear that most of her visual needs were at intermediate and near distances, so I corrected her for near vision using the Toric lens, and she is thrilled with the results.”
Lots of Gain, No Pain
Cataract surgery is generally performed on one eye at a time, usually a few weeks apart. Dr. Khator operated on Sherri’s left eye first, and Sherri could immediately see a dramatic improvement in her vision.
“After the first surgery, everything was so clear, crisp, and fresh compared to the other eye,” comments Sherri. “I was shocked at the difference. I didn’t realize I had lost that much detail. I was very happy with the outcome.”
Several weeks later, the cataract in Sherri’s right eye was also removed. After her vision was fully corrected, Sherri was thrilled with the enhancement to her vision. She was impressed by the ease of the surgery itself, as well as the recovery.
“I’m amazed at how easy it was,” she reports. “I didn’t have any pain during the surgery, and I didn’t have any pain afterward. I took Tylenol® the day of the surgery after the procedure, and that was it. The experience was really comfortable. It gave me a whole new outlook, no pun intended.”
With the cataracts gone and her astigmatism corrected, Sherri can see her computer clearly to work. She has also gotten back on the road in the dark.
“I can drive at night again, and it’s great,” she says. “I don’t have any problems now. I’m very happy with the way
Dr. Khator corrected my vision. I’ve never had vision this good, ever. Getting cataract surgery at Coastal Eye Institute is the best thing I ever did.”