Innovative Eye Surgery Helps Patients Step Out From Behind the Lens

“When you wear glasses, you always feel like you’re inside something, like you’re looking out a window all the time,” says Cindy Cromwell, 59, of Clarksburg, who had been wearing glasses nearly all her life.

In her 40s, Cromwell began to develop cataracts. “I had to turn on all the lights in the house because everything looked dark, colors weren’t vibrant,” she says.

“As people age, the eye’s natural lens begins to cloud,” explains Natasha Herz, M.D., ophthalmologist with Washington Adventist Hospital. “Once this clouding impairs your vision to the point that it’s interfering with your life, it’s time for cataract surgery.”

It’s common for one eye to be affected by cataracts earlier than the other, and in 2008 Cromwell underwent surgery at Washington Adventist Hospital to fix the cataract in her left eye. By 2011, she and Dr. Herz decided it was time to fix the right eye.

“Dr. Herz explained that eyes get to a certain point where contacts or glasses won’t correct the problem anymore,” Cromwell says. “This was my window of opportunity.”

“We needed to remove Cindy’s cataract, but we were also dealing with astigmatism in her right eye, which causes blurred vision,” Dr. Herz says.

Dr. Herz decided to use an innovative implantable lens, known as the AcrySof Toric lens. The lens, which has been available for several years, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011 to correct severe instances of astigmatism.

“To help her regain high-quality distance vision after surgery and give her freedom from eyeglasses,” Dr. Herz says, “we decided to use this implantable lens that makes it possible to treat the cataract and correct the astigmatism at the same time.”

Cromwell says the improvement in her vision after surgery was immediate. “On the car ride home, I could tell that blues were bluer and greens were greener,” she says. “I didn’t realize what I had been missing.”

With the new implant, for the first time since she was 8 years old, Cromwell no longer needed glasses. “I must have given away about 22 pairs! I just didn’t need them anymore,” she says. “It’s freeing, and I owe it to Dr. Herz. She works miracles!”