You should never have to give up your passions in life. For Norwalk native Carol Stoneham, retirement was spent on her farm enjoying her favorite pastimes, reading and knitting. At age 71, Carol also volunteers her time at Fisher-Titus Medical Center. Up until about five years ago, Carol lived life to the fullest and enjoyed spending time reading her latest novel or doing needlework.
But over time, she became increasingly sensitive to bright lights, which affected her ability to read road signs and drive at night. Her eyes were even making it difficult to do what she loved most, and she eventually gave up reading and knitting. Cataracts, a common condition in older adults, was beginning to take its toll on Carol.
According to the National Eye Institute, a cataract is the clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Over time, protein in the lens can clump together, forming a cloud in the lens. When cataracts cloud the lens, the images you see will be blurry.
“I stopped doing needlework and reading books because of the cataracts,” recalls Carol. “I just wasn’t enjoying them anymore.”
This prompted Carol to make an appointment with ophthalmologist Jonathan Zahler, a member of the Fisher-Titus Medical Staff and on the Fisher-Titus Surgical Services team. In Carol’s situation, it was not necessary to remove the cataracts immediately; Dr. Zahler told her she could decide how soon she wanted them removed. He explained the safe, laser-guided cataract surgery procedure performed at Fisher-Titus is customized for each patient.
Cataract surgery can be performed in a hospital or eye clinic and usually lasts less than one hour. Most patients opt to stay awake during the surgery. The nerves in and around the eye are numbed. In traditional cataract surgery, a handheld blade creates an incision where the cornea meets the sclera. In laser cataract surgery, the surgeon creates a small, circular opening to access and remove the cataract using a 3D image of the patient’s eye. The lens of the eye is then replaced with an artificial lens. Your doctor can help you determine what type of lens is best for your eye.
Carol felt comfortable knowing she could have a procedure like this done in a familiar location in her community. It was reassuring to know it was only minutes from home. Dr. Zahler eased her apprehensions, because, as Carol explained, “Cataract surgery is something you tend to put off because the thought of somebody working on your eye while you’re awake makes you a little hesitant.”
Last summer, Dr. Zahler performed the state-of-the-art procedure on one of Carol’s eyes and did the second eye three weeks later. By the second surgery, Carol’s uneasiness subsided and she couldn’t wait to have her sight restored. “It was painless and it took 20 minutes,” she said. “It was a great experience. I couldn’t wait to get my second eye done, and Dr. Zahler was as excited as I was that my outcome was so good.”
Now, Carol has 20/20 vision after selecting multifocal lens implants for the surgery. “For the first time since third grade, I don’t have to wear glasses at all,” she said, smiling.
She is back to her favorite activities, including driving at night, knitting and reading, and enjoying retirement to the fullest. “I am enjoying it all again,” Carol said. “I think we’re fortunate to have someone of Dr. Zahler’s quality in our community. He’s a great doctor!”
For more information about cataract treatment options, call 419-660-4300.