HealthWatch: Cataract Surgery 2.0

Local News

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — As many as three and a half million Americans will have cataract surgery this year. Most of the time, surgery fixes the problem, but for three percent of the patients there is a surgical side effect that does not go away on its own. For those patients, eye surgeons at Washington University in St. Louis have devised a cutting-edge way to restore clear vision. 

Thirty-nine-year-old Sarah Hickey is mom to two active little guys. She has no time right now to slow down. Eye trouble was the last thing she expected.

“Six or seven years ago I noticed that I was having a lot of trouble driving at night,” Hickey told Ivanhoe.

Doctors diagnosed Hickey with cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye. Hickey opted for surgery to remove them, but within a few days she noticed a problem in one of them.

“I almost immediately had a shadow that developed on the lower corner of my eye,” said Hickey.

Arsham Sheybani, M.D., an ophthalmologist at Washington University in St. Louis. He said this side effect goes away for most patients, but not all.

Dr. Sheybani explained, “The way the light bends there casts a shadow on the retina, but then patients perceive this as a crescent shadow toward the side.” 

New glasses didn’t help Hickey. Neither did a repositioning of the lens. That’s when Dr. Sheybani devised a new procedure, he describes as an optic truncation.

Using tiny instruments, Dr. Sheybani lifted the lens up.

“With very, very small scissors we cut the part of the lens that I thought was causing the light to bend abnormally,” detailed Sheybani.

Then surgeons put Hickey’s lens back into place. The entire procedure took ten minutes.

Hickey said, “When we took the patch off the next day, immediately there was no shadow.”

Dr. Sheybani said he and his colleagues performed the shaving procedure over a year ago and Hickey has had no problem with her lens since that time; the shadow has not come back. 

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.



TOPIC:       Cataract Surgery 2.0

REPORT:   MB #4229

BACKGROUND: A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s natural lens. The clouded vision cataracts cause can create difficulty when driving (especially at night), reading, or seeing people’s faces. Cataracts won’t disturb the eyesight at the beginning since they develop slowly, but over time they can lead to complete blindness. The three types of cataracts that exist are:

* Subcapsular cataract, which occurs in the back of the lens

* Nuclear cataract, that forms in the deep in the central zone of the lens, and

* Cortical cataract, characterized by starting in the periphery of the lens and working their way to the center

This condition affects more than 22 million Americans over the age of 40. It is the most common cause of vision loss in the U.S., and the principal cause of blindness in the world. 

(Source: & 

CAUSES & TREATMENTS:  Cataracts occur due to the buildup of protein in the lens of the eye. Most of the time, cataracts can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses, but if the prescription doesn’t lead to any results, cataract surgery may be recommended. Cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure in the U.S. with more than 3 million Americans receiving it each year. 

(Source:, & Dr. Arsham Sheybani)

OPTIC TRUNCATION: Cataract surgery can fix the sight impairment for most patients, but 3 percent of those patients suffer from a side effect that may not go away on its own. This side effect is normal even if the surgery is performed correctly, causing a shadow on the retina that is perceived by the patient as a crescent toward the side of the eye.  With the use of very small instruments, the lens of the eye is lifted out of the bag the normal lens sits in. Without disturbing the orientation of the natural lens, the surgical lens is cut in order to remove the abnormality that was causing the light to bend. The entire procedure takes around 10 minutes and the results are seen immediately.  

(Source: Dr. Arsham Sheybani &–cataract-surgery-2015) 


Washington University Eye Clinic


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

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