The Ottumwa Courier


March 29, 2007

What to expect if you need cataract surgery

Heartland Eye Care helps Ottumwa writer

OTTUMWA — As I stood at the church podium on the first Sunday in January to read the liturgy, I realized that I could not see the Bible verses despite the light from the front of the podium.

I moved things around and was able to read a few lines, then again stumbled. I finally turned away from the podium and was able to finish the reading. Later, the pastor asked me if the print was too small or if the lighting was too dim. I did not know.

It was one of many small incidents where I had trouble reading in the past year. At times I had to use a magnifying glass to see numbers in the new telephone book.

A month later, I had my annual eye appointment. The ophthalmologist dilated my eyes and did several eye exams which I seemed to fail dismally. I discussed the church incident with the doctor. He then turned a light on my eyes while asking me to read a line through the machine. That showed me what probably happened when I faced the glare of the podium light. With the light on my eyes, I also could not read anything on the chart. “Why is that?” I asked.

“You have fast growing cataracts in each eye which are called cortical vacules. When the light from the podium caused a glare, you were unable to see through the cataracts,” Dr. Norman Hutchison explained.

I was eager to learn if there was a solution.

Since my cataracts were about equal in both eyes, the doctor said he could not do any further correction of my eyes with glasses. He said that the cataracts could be removed surgically, one eye at a time, and an intraocular lens (IOL) implanted in each eye.

Hutchison has been in private practice as an ophthalmologist since 1983, and estimated that he has performed 10,000 cataract surgeries. He explained the surgery, gave me reading material and asked what I wanted to do.

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