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An Option for Dropless Cataracts

Eye Center, Southwest Health

After any surgery, it is essential to carefully follow the instructions given to you by your surgeon and care team. This helps with your recovery and ability to get back to regular life while increasing your rate of optimal outcomes. Diligent patient compliance with taking prescribed medications as part of your treatment plan is a significant component, especially after a cataract surgery that traditionally has several steps to recovery.

Cataract surgery is a common procedure that corrects constant blurry vision and glare, improving quality of life. According to Harvard Medical School, patients who undergo corrective cataract surgery live longer than those who continue to have vision problems.

Aging is the most common cause of cataracts, but they may also be the result of trauma, radiation or sun exposure, and other causes. Risk factors include diabetes, smoking, exposure to sunlight, and alcohol consumption. While cataracts are not proven to be preventable, the process can potentially be slowed by wearing sunglasses and not smoking.

Symptoms of cataracts include blurring of vision, increased amounts of glare around bright lights, frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription, and a worsening of night vision, making activities such as reading or driving more difficult.

Early on with cataracts, one’s vision may be improved with eyeglasses. When this is no longer enough, surgery is necessary to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens. Surgery typically results in a vast improvement in the clarity of your vision. You may still need to wear glasses to help correct your other existing eye conditions.

After cataract surgery, a patient has typically been prescribed eye drops, adding an additional step to recovery. These drops must be used multiple times daily to decrease the risk of infection and inflammation after surgery. The burden of putting drops into your own eyes can weigh heavily on cataract patients, especially if people have other conditions like arthritis that can make it difficult to squeeze the small bottle.

The good news is there is now the option for dropless cataract surgery.

During dropless cataract surgery, the ophthalmologist injects the necessary antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications into and around the eye. These medications mean that 90-95% of patients don’t have to put a single eye drop into their eye after cataract surgery.

Not only does dropless cataract surgery make the post-operative care for surgery easier, but it can benefit the patient financially. The medications administered during the surgery are free of charge to the patient, saving the patient the $50 to $100 they typically pay for eye drops after the surgery.

The decision for surgery and the surgical technique used are tailored to each patient. Ask your surgeon if they feel dropless cataract surgery is the best option for you when considering cataract surgery.

Ultimately, patients appreciate these options for reducing the number of eye drops and medication-associated expenses. The Eye Center at Southwest Health has two ophthalmologists performing dropless cataract surgery, Dr. Mary Jo Oyen and Dr. Christopher Pruet.

Dr. Oyen is a native of Platteville, Wisconsin, and graduated from UW-Platteville with a degree in mechanical engineering. She worked for six years as an engineer before returning to medical school at UW-Madison. Her internal medicine internship and ophthalmology residency were all completed there as well. She has served on the flying hospital – Operation Blessing in the Philippines and Brazil- and the Mercy Ships in Belize and completed medical missions to India, Kosovo, and Kenya. “Doing and teaching cataract surgery in other countries is both challenging and rewarding.” Says Dr. Oyen.

Dr. Oyen has been a board-certified ophthalmologist serving southwest Wisconsin since 1998, where she provides comprehensive care. Specifically, she specializes in cataract surgery, offering various options tailored to each patient’s needs. She also does several types of glaucoma surgery, including minimally invasive glaucoma surgeries and a variety of oculoplastic surgeries (correcting droopy eyelids and eyelids that turn inward or outward). Dr. Oyen feels it is a privilege to live and work in the community where she grew up. “I have had the opportunity to serve many people who have taught me or I have known for years.”

If you have any questions about your eye health or think you may have cataracts, please do not hesitate to contact the Eye Center at Southwest Health at (608) 342-2020. Platteville has two convenient Eye Center locations, both at our hospital and McGregor Plaza, as well as two locations in Darlington and Lancaster, ready to serve you.

Your health, including eye health, is essential, and putting off care will only make your symptoms more complicated. If you haven’t had an eye exam since the pandemic started and now you think too much time has passed to catch up, it’s not too late! Your provider can help you each step of the way and get back on track towards better health.