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Ophthalmology

Joann's Story

Better than she envisioned

joanneCataracts lead one Danville resident to Geisinger, where physicians offered her better eyesight than she imagined possible—without eyeglasses.

Joann, 66, used to rely on several pairs of eyeglasses. She needed them to correct her vision for a range of activities, from sewing intricate quilt squares to making long-distance road trips with friends. Using some of the latest technology, ophthalmologists at Geisinger helped this active Danville grandmother to leave all those eyeglasses behind.

Three pairs and counting

Without eyeglasses, Joann’s cataracts caused things to appear fuzzy at a distance, and farsightedness made it difficult for her to see well for other activities. 

“I kept a pair of glasses at my computer, one at my sewing machine, and another near the TV. I spent a lot of time looking for them,” she jokes. 

These many pairs traveled with her during frequent camping trips with her husband, John, when vacationing with friends, or when visiting their five grandchildren.

Opthalmology - Joann's Story

Kendal Dobbins, MD, explains the range of eye surgery available at Geisinger and describes how patient Joann's quality of life improved following her procedure.

Eyeglasses no longer effective

In the spring of 2008, Joann was preparing for a two-week, 2,000 mile trip with friends. On the itinerary was a conference in Joplin, Missouri, plus a fun side trip to Branson. “We planned to drive two days out and two days back, and I’d hoped to do most of the driving,” she says. 

However, during a regular eye exam a month before their departure, Joann’s ophthalmologist at Geisinger expressed concerns about her vision. Her cataracts had grown so bad that eyeglasses could no longer correct her vision. Removing them was the only way she could maintain her busy lifestyle—and go on that trip. 

Unexpected benefits

During traditional cataract surgery, physicians implant a plastic lens to replace the clouded natural lens. This new lens corrects only the fuzzy vision, not any near- or farsightedness a person might also have.

Joann’s physicians offered another option, however. Specialists at Geisinger can implant a contact-type lens that corrects farsightedness and nearsightedness.

Not only would this clear her cloudy vision, Joann’s eyeglasses could become a thing of the past, as well.

“I didn’t know much about these lenses before speaking to my doctors at Geisinger,” Joann says, “but I was excited to think they could correct my vision at the same time they remove my cataracts.”

Confidence in her medical team

A longtime Danville resident, Joann knows and trusts the hospital staff, she says, and her experiences with this new implant procedure confirmed her impressions. “I’ve lived here since 1962, so I know the people at Geisinger,” she says. “Everyone was super-professional the whole time. They were absolutely fantastic.”

Joann recalls the extreme thoroughness of her preparation in the weeks before the procedure. “I went through extensive testing before surgery to make sure they had just the right prescription for my eyes, so the lenses would be correct for all the things I do.”

So in March 2008, just a few weeks from her trip to the Midwest, Joann’s physicians implanted the new corrective lenses, during procedures two weeks apart. The one-day surgeries went very well.

“Like many people, I’m somewhat sensitive about my eyes, but the whole procedure was a piece of cake,” she says. 

Down to just a pair of sunglasses

Weeks later, leaving her eyeglasses behind, Joann drove her carload of friends across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Missouri during that 2,300-mile tour.

Today, she no longer needs to search for the right pair of eyeglasses at her computer or sewing machine. And during camping trips, she is often the first to spot the deer and occasional bear who wander into camp after dusk.

“I can see everything without glasses, now. It’s been terrific,” she says. “I can’t say enough about this procedure and the staff at Geisinger.” 

Joann still wears sunglasses, of course, to protect her eyes. But that’s the only pair she owns.

“I’ve donated all the rest to the local Lion’s Club,” she happily reports.