Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Eye doctors donate 100 cataract surgeries to needy patients

Caroline LaBonte was scheduled to have cataract surgery three years ago, but a combination of nerves and money worries caused her to cancel.

Since then, the 80-year-old Clearwater resident's eyesight has grown steadily worse.

"Now I can't see unless I'm very close," LaBonte said. "Everything is fuzzy, not like it used to be."

All of that changed Wednesday morning, thanks to a nationwide program aimed at restoring the vision of 100 needy patients.

LaBonte was selected to participate in "Changing 100 Lives in 100 Minutes," in which 100 patients received free cataract surgery.

LaBonte considered it nothing short of a miracle.

The event was initiated by Bausch & Lomb, which manufactures an innovative intraocular implant for cataracts patients. The company invited 100 eye surgeons to select patients to have cataracts removed at no cost. Surgeons agreed to perform the surgery without a fee and Bausch & Lomb donated 100 pairs of implants. The 100 minutes began at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.

LaBonte's surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Weinstock at the Eye Institute of West Florida in Largo.

"We were looking for a needy person that was very active and had a lot of living to do, no matter what their age," said Beverly Schroder, surgery coordinator at the institute. "Caroline LaBonte fit the bill."

By allowing the media into the operating room, Weinstock was able to demonstrate the advances in cataract surgery.

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging. Cataracts are very common in older people, and by age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery, according to the National Eye Institute.

"Years ago, patients were immobilized after surgery with sandbags placed on each side of the head to prevent movement," Weinstock said. "Today they are sitting up, eating and drinking within minutes of the surgery."

Weinstock's operating room features a high-definition, 3-D projection system which allows him to operate while wearing 3-D glasses and watching a monitor.

Modern cataract surgery involves such tiny incisions that there are generally no stitches, no bandages and no blood. LaBonte was only mildly sedated and remained able to respond to Weinstock for the entire procedure.

Weinstock used ultrasonic waves to break up the cataract clouding LaBonte's vision. A small suction device removed the debris. Soon a clear eye appeared on the screen.

With practiced moves, Weinstock slipped the new lens in place. In just a few minutes, LaBonte's vision went from cloudy to clear.

Ten minutes after surgery, LaBonte was sipping coffee, eating a cookie and answering questions. As part of the program, the cataract on her opposite eye will be removed next week.

"I couldn't believe how easy it was," LaBonte said. "I just lay there and relaxed. Now I'm not at all worried about the second eye surgery."

Eye doctors donate 100 cataract surgeries to needy patients 04/12/08 [Last modified: Saturday, April 12, 2008 4:32am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits

    Colleges

    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  2. Quiet college dropout turned bomber: Who was Salman Abedi?

    World

    LONDON — He was quiet and withdrawn, a college dropout who liked soccer — and, some say, showed alarming signs of being radicalized years before he walked into a pop concert at Britain's Manchester Arena and detonated a powerful bomb, killing himself and 22 others.

    Salman Abedi was identified by British authorities as the man behind Monday’s attack.
  3. Soldiers launch attacks in besieged Philippine city

    World

    MARAWI, Philippines — Backed by tanks and rocket-firing helicopters, Philippine troops launched "precision attacks" Thursday to clear extremists linked to the Islamic State group from a city that has been under siege since a raid that failed to capture one of Asia's most-wanted militants.

    Soldiers fire at enemy positions Thursday while trying to clear the city of Marawi, Philippines, of armed militants.
  4. Back to .500, Rays feel ready to roll (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Who wants to be mediocre? Middling? Average? Run-of-the-mill?

    Rays catcher Jesus Sucre tags out the Angels’ Mike Trout trying to score from second base after a perfect peg from rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. in the first inning.
  5. Seminole man accused of fracturing 8-month-old baby's leg

    Crime

    Deputies arrested a Seminole man Thursday after he fractured an 8-month-old baby's bones, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

    Gary G. Gibeault of Seminole was arrested on a charge of aggravated child abuse.