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  • Cataract Surgery: A Life-Changing Decision

    May. 16, 2016

    Having worn thick glasses since childhood, Michael Sargent woke up the day after having cataract surgery to what seemed like a miracle.

    “You can’t imagine what it’s like to look at the clock in the morning and be able to tell the time,” said Sargent, a 53-year-old from Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

    Although always poor, Sargent’s vision started getting even worse in his 40s. Eventually, he couldn’t make out shapes or colors right in front of him without his glasses.

    He couldn’t enjoy his favorite hobbies, including photography, model building and watching movies. He had to get so close while working on his model tanks and planes that he got glue on his glasses. Frustrated, Sargent made an appointment with his ophthalmologist, Ravi D. Goel, MD.

    Cataract Vision Simulator
    Cataract simulator: what you might see if you have cataracts.

    Dr. Goel diagnosed cataracts, a clouding of the natural lens of the eye. He recommended surgery.

    “Cataracts occur naturally as we get older, but Michael’s progressed faster,” Dr. Goel said. “He couldn’t read clearly from four inches away.”

    During the surgery, the cataracts are removed and the natural eye lens is replaced with a thin, permanent artificial lens, called an intraocular lens. There are several types of IOLs, each with various benefits and costs.

    For Sargent, Dr. Goel used monofocal lenses, with one IOL set for distance vision and the other for near vision. The brain synthesizes the information from each eye to provide vision at intermediate distances.

    Sargent was surprised by the immediate improvement in his vision.

    “It was like being reborn,” said Sargent, who now needs glasses only for reading. “It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. It felt strange not to have to wear glasses all the time. I can look outside and see a couple hundred feet away, including details that I could never see even with glasses, from leaves on the tree to birds’ nests.”

    "I can look outside and see a couple hundred feet away, including details that I could never see even with glasses," Michael Sargent, 53

    Sargent has always enjoyed traveling and reading about history, from World War I to the presidents. He relishes going out to eat and seeing movies with his girlfriend. It’s even more enjoyable now that he can see so clearly.

    “Having the surgery was life-changing,” he said.