Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

October 2, 2013

HRH employs high tech laser for cataract surgery

By Steven Penn steven.penn@flyergroup.com
Hendricks County Flyer

---- — AVON — Ophthalmologist Daniel Whipple, M.D., from the Whipple Eye Center, 8244 E. U.S. 36, Suite 200, Avon, has been helping cataract patients see better by using a high tech bladeless laser technique.

The LenSx Laser technology is computer guided, which allows the incision into the cornea to be more precise.

Hendricks Regional Health is currently the only central Indiana hospital system currently utilizing the technology.

Plainfield resident Fran Strickler, who suffered from monovision and cataracts, underwent the procedure in July and said it was literally and figuratively a painless process.

“I have honestly been to the dentist and had fillings that were worse than this,” she said. “Probably the most irritating thing was this dam they put in your eye to hold your eye open.”

Strickler said she was aware of her surroundings the entire time as the procedure doesn’t require any anesthesia, just a valium to calm patients down.

“I could hear them talking, they were playing music and we were talking about the Jack Johnson song they were playing — there was nothing to it,” she said. “That day my husband and I went to lunch when we left here and my eye watered that day, but when I got home I just shut all the shades and the next day I was fine. It was the same way with the other eye (when they did it a week later); there was just nothing to it. After the surgery, it was that same day, they stuck something up and I could already see it.”

Whipple acknowledged that the laser is a “phenomenal technological advance.”

“It’s a femto second laser. A femto second is one quadrillionth of a second,” Whipple said. “Can you imagine something that would be that quick, a quadrillionth of a second? It’s run by a computer so you can just imagine the accuracy and precision you can get, versus the traditional way we do surgery, just manually, which works really well, and we’ve done it for years, but with this laser it’s just awesome what we can do.”

He said not only does the procedure remove the cataracts, but it also improves the overall prescription.

“It’s kind of combining cataract surgery with LASIK surgery to give as good of a prescription afterwards as possible,” he said.

He added that cataract surgery has come a long way and used to be tough to go through, but he makes sure his patients know this is an option for them. Whipple conceded that the biggest downside of the procedure is that it’s not covered by insurance.

“I’m proud of the fact, here in Avon, Indiana, you can get as advanced technology as anywhere in the world,” he said. “I tell patients all the time, ‘You can’t go to New York or Chicago or Los Angeles and get anything more technologically advanced than what we offer here.’ Does that mean you have to do it? No, but it’s nice to know it’s available to those that want to do it.”

Strickler said she would definitely recommend the procedure to anyone who needs it.

“I would tell them to do it,” she said. “There’s no question at all. It’s not the least bit debilitating. My eye watered for a while and so I shut the shades in the afternoon and the next day I could have gone to work, I could have done anything. I would just take that opportunity and tell everyone to take advantage of having cataracts (and take advantage of the procedure).”

Whipple added that he would never try to talk someone into a procedure they don’t need.

“If somebody isn’t bothered by their vision, don’t do anything,” he said. “If you’re bothered, why put it off? It’s going to last forever and you might as well take advantage of it sooner rather than later. All of us, hopefully, will live long enough to get cataracts. They’re like grey hairs; they’re a natural aging change. Usually by the late 50s early 60s, everyone has at least the beginnings of cataracts.”

For more information, call the Whipple Eye Center at 272-2020 or visit the website at www.whippleeyecenter.com.