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TODAY news for Thursday, March 31, 2008

Loma Linda University Medical Center news

Premium implant lenses help patients with cataracts

A new breed of premium implant lenses is bringing better vision to the cataract patients of Loma Linda University healthcare ophthalmology without the need for glasses, and a Redlands lady says she’s living proof.

“Patients who use these new lenses are experiencing excellent quality of vision for both reading and distance vision without glasses,” says Michael Rauser, an ophthalmologist with the group.

Dr. Rauser insists that the new technology implants—known as Restor and Toric Intraocular lenses—enhance the quality of life for patients by reducing their need for eyeglasses after cataract surgery.

“This is the most effective treatment for cataracts,” Dr. Rauser contends, “and one of the safest and most common surgical procedures. The use of premium lens implants continues to grow at Loma Linda ophthalmology, driven by the high level of satisfaction reported by our patients who use them.”

One of those patients, Dixie Watkins, agreed to share her story in hopes that readers might enjoy hearing from a patient who had them implanted. Ms. Watkins says she’s seeing much better now than before doctors implanted the Restor lenses in her eyes in January 2008. “I had them done three weeks apart from each other,” she notes.

Did the new lenses make a difference in her vision? “I’ll put it this way—the world now looks like the day after a rain when the sun comes out. Before the operation, I couldn’t drive into the sun and now I can.”

While Ms. Watkins admits she doesn’t know what her eyesight was before she got the new lenses, she remembers that “the world was just cloudy, and glare was a huge problem. But now, I have 20/20 vision in one eye and 20/15 in the other.”

The new lenses enable Ms. Watkins to enjoy golf again. “I had to have help finding my ball on the golf course,” she recalls, “but now I can find it myself.” They also allow her to drive to Palm Springs in harsh morning light without any concerns about excessive glare.

Dr. Rauser says the new intraocular lenses represent a breakthrough in visual technology. “The majority of patients who undergo cataract surgery receive monofocal lenses. The problem is that monofocals require patients to use reading glasses or bifocals following surgery. But with the new intraocular lenses, they can read just fine without glasses.” 

Ms. Watkins says she felt “absolutely no pain” at any time during or after the 15-minute surgery. “Ten minutes after it was over, I walked out and went home. Of course, they want you to wear those big, funky sunglasses to protect your eyes after the operation, but I went out and bought some nice-looking glasses instead.”

Ms. Watkins, a mother of four and grandmother of five, is a long-time supporter of Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital. In 1999 she became the founding president of the Big Hearts for Little Hearts Guild, an organization that hosts a large variety of special programs designed to enhance the quality of life for hospitalized children. Two of her sons, Greg and Barry, are doctors at LLU Medical Center. Greg is an interventional radiologist, and Barry is a hand surgeon. A daughter-in-law, Ai-Mae Watkins, is a gynecologist at the Medical Center as well.

Are there any drawbacks to the new lenses? Dixie says she can read without glasses, but it takes a bit of adjustment. “The doctor says it will be a few more months before my eyes learn to work together for reading,” she notes. “Right now, I can read, but I have to find the focal point.”

Ms. Watkins also says she sees halos around lights at night. “I did ask around before I had the procedure,” Ms. Watkins discloses, “and some of the people I talked to said the same thing. But it’s no big deal.”

Readers who would like to contact Dixie Watkins about how the new implant lenses have improved her vision and life are invited to e-mail her at dixiegram@excite.com. Readers who want to discuss the new procedure with a doctor are invited to call Loma Linda University healthcare ophthalmology at (909) 558-2000.

By James Ponder

TODAY news for Thursday, March 31, 2008