Eye Drop Anesthesia for Cataract Surgery

After she moved to Vero Beach from central Florida, Mary Bodenheimer noticed it was harder for her to drive at night. It was difficult to see clearly in the dark, especially with glare from oncoming headlights.Mary Bodenheimer, a nurse, treated for cataracts by Dr. William J. Mallon at Center for Advanced Eye Care.

“I started noticing my night driving was so much worse, and I thought maybe the lighting was different from where I used to live,” shares Mary.

At age 65, Mary has been a nurse for more than three decades. She now works for hospice and is pursuing a Master’s degree in nursing. For many years, she was an emergency room nurse and also worked at an outpatient eye surgery center.

When her night vision diminished, Mary decided to find an ophthalmologist. She sought recommendations from her co-workers, and more than once, colleagues recommended William J. Mallon, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist at Center for Advanced Eye Care.

I asked nurses I was working with who they would suggest, and Dr. Mallon’s name came up three times in a row,” recalls Mary.

Classic Symptoms

Mary made an appointment at Center for Advanced Eye Care for an eye examination. She was eager to learn why she was having trouble with night vision and asked for the first appointment available.

“I didn’t see Dr. Mallon at the first visit because I saw another doctor. Right off the bat, my eye exam showed cataracts. I didn’t know I had them,” she remembers.

Mary’s problems with night driving were a classic symptom of cataracts. Nearly everyone develops cataracts as they age and the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy and darkens. At night, having cataracts can feel like trying to peer through a tinted window while wearing sunglasses.

Other symptoms include blurry vision and greater sensitivity to bright lights. People may need more light in order to read, and colors may appear muted or yellowed.

Fortunately, no one has to endure diminished vision from cataracts. Unobstructed vision and visual acuity can be restored through cataract surgery. During the surgery, the clouded lens is removed and replaced with a synthetic intraocular lens, or IOL.

Mary wanted Dr. Mallon, who specializes in cataract surgery, for the procedure. As a nurse, she was impressed during her first consultation with him.

“Dr. Mallon is just a joy to be around – he’s so professional, comforting and understanding,” she describes. “He spent a lot of time with me. Having been a nurse for thirty-three years, I appreciate a doctor who isn’t trying to rush you out the door, who sits down with you and makes good eye contact and explains everything thoroughly, even if you ask two or three times.”

Mary was surprised to learn she wouldn’t need sedation for the surgery. For nearly 20 years, Dr. Mallon has performed cataract surgery with numbing eye drops only.

“I had no idea that was possible,” says Mary. “I said, Wow, this is for me!

Dr. Mallon explains to patients why eye drop anesthesia is a better option for most people. No needles are involved, preoperative testing isn’t required and people can return to normal activities right away. During the procedure, there isn’t any discomfort because the eye is numb and patients see only a bright light.

“Cataract surgery is a safe procedure, but it’s even safer when the patient isn’t sedated,” notes Dr. Mallon.

From her background as an emergency room nurse, Mary agrees.

“The technique of using only eye drop anesthesia is absolutely stellar,” she enthuses. “You don’t have any problems that might arise from sedation. There is always a risk of complications like low blood pressure or confusion when patients are sedated.”

Preoperative Planning

Part of what sets Center for Advanced Eye Care apart is the dedication of its doctors to preoperative planning before cataract surgery.

“Our assessment includes the health of the eye,” explains Dr. Mallon. “We look at the refractive state, if a patient is nearsighted or farsighted. We consider if they are happy wearing glasses or are looking to get rid of glasses. All of these things are taken into account when we assess what a patient’s postoperative needs may be.”

Patients can choose from a variety of IOLs, including specialty lenses that eliminate or reduce the need for glasses after cataract surgery. Mary opted for standard monofocal lenses as the best choice for her.

“Dr. Mallon assured me that I wasn’t making a mistake by not choosing a specialty lens and that he could fine-tune the prescription for the standard lens very closely,” says Mary. “It was likely that I would only need reading glasses after the surgery.”

“It’s Totally Amazing!”

Mary had cataract surgery on each eye – scheduled two weeks apart – in the outpatient surgery suite at Center for Advanced Eye Care.Mary Bodenheimer, a nurse, treated for cataracts by Dr. William J. Mallon at Center for Advanced Eye Care.

“When I had the surgery, the pre-op nurses and the post-op nurses were the best and so was Dr. Mallon. The whole atmosphere was patient friendly,” she comments.

Once home after her first surgery, Mary noticed a renewed brightness in her kitchen cabinets.

“I said, Wow, my cabinets are bright white! The cabinets seemed to have a sepia tint when I looked at them through the eye that still had a cataract. I’d never realized that cataracts affected how I saw colors,” she stresses.

In another three days, Mary noticed vision in her eye with the new IOL was sharp and fully crisp. Her sight only improved when surgery on both eyes was complete.

“It’s mostly that everything is brighter now,” she reports. “And I hardly ever wear glasses, except for little cheaters when I’m doing a lot of reading or studying. I work twelve-hour shifts in my job without needing glasses. It’s totally amazing!”

The patient-centered care she received from Dr. Mallon and the staff at Center for Advanced Eye Care hasn’t stopped impressing her.

“As a nurse, I can say that Center for Advanced Eye Care is a fantastic operation. Every person you come in contact with, from the people at the front desk to the staff who test your eyes, they want to make sure you’re comfortable,” says Mary.

She has only praise for Dr. Mallon.

“I would send people from out of town to see Dr. Mallon if they ever needed cataract surgery,” confirms Mary. “I don’t think there is any doctor like him. Dr. Mallon is absolutely a gift to our community.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photos by Nerissa Johnson. Building photo courtesy of Center for Advanced Eye Care. mkb
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