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9 posts from October 2010

October 29, 2010

Beware of Cosmetic Contact Lenses for Halloween!

I got an e-mail from my son today.  His friend tried to get a pair of contact lenses on line for a party he is going to in South Beach.  Problem was he couldn't get the contact lenses without a Doctor's Rx!  He wanted to know if I could get him the lenses before the party...  This brings up an important point, contact lenses are not a costume, they are still medical devices that are applied to the eyes.  They need to be fit and cared for properly!  Unfortunately I needed more than a day's notice to get him the lenses, I guess a new costume in in the works..

It's good to know that he was unable to get his lenses without the Rx.  Several years ago, it would have been much easier, and riskier to get these lenses.  In fact I did an interview way back in 2004 with CBS News and Sapna Parikh (who is now on Fox.)  I love this interview.  Why?  Because my daughter Arielle and her friend Chelsea are both part of the story!  It is great to see them when they were so young, they are now 20!

Hope you all enjoy the story!


October 27, 2010

Vision Harvest 2010 A Huge Success: 24 Receive Free Cataract Surgery



Friday's Vision Harvest went off without a hitch.  24 people were able to have their vision improved with free cataract surgery.  These patients all suffered with cataracts, but were unable to seek the treatment they needed, as they had no insurance nor the means to pay for their cataract surgery.

I continue to be moved by so many of the stories I have heard since founding Vision Harvest last year.  I am also amazed at how far people have traveled to receive the surgery they so desperately need; last year from as far away as Indiana, this year, Tennessee!  It is so hard to believe there are so many people in need of medical care in our own country..

Here is a breakdown of this year's patients:

  • Most of these patients were relatively young to have visually significant cataracts.  They ranged in age from 27 to 78, averaging 58.
  • 6 were employed, 1 was a student, and 17 were unemployed
  • Geographically, 19 were from New Jersey, 1 from New York, 1 from Connecticut, 1 from Maryland, 1 from Virginia, and 1 from Tennessee.  Several of those from NJ were actually visiting family members from India, Phillipines, and Western Africa.

Getting drops prior to surgery.

Three patients had to be cancelled because they failed their free medical clearance which was performed on the day of surgery.  This points to another glaring problem, not only can't these people afford cataract surgery, they can't afford to take care of themselves, medically.  We will be referring them to an area clinic, and once stable, perform their cataract surgery at a later date.

I have downloaded many more pictures of the day's event onto flickr for your enjoyment.

Ilene and Jackson congratulated by me for winning dinners at Serenade Restaraunt.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those responsible for making Vision Harvest 2010 possible:

  • Keri Muli, Administrator, Barbara Kociuba, Refractive Surgery Coordinator, and the entire staff of EyeCare 20/20 for helping to organize and implement the program.
  • Nancy Lord, Administrator, Hadley Phillips, Medical Director, all the physician-owners, and the entire staff of River Drive Surgery Center for allowing us to treat these patients at the center free of charge.
  • Dr. Jay Tendler and Dr. Aruna Desai for providing free anesthesia to our patients.
  • Dr. Enas Tupo for providing free medical clearance to our patients.
  • Including me, the following surgeons provided free cataract surgery:

                Dr. Michael Farbowitz

                Dr. Ken Miller

                Dr. Scott Pomerantz

                Dr. Nahndi Williams

Setting up microscope for surgery.

  • The following doctors will be providing post op mamagement of these patients free of charge:

                Dr. Phillip Eichler of Eye Institute of Essex

                Dr. Steven A Koenig of Nashville, Tennessee

                Dr. Earl Kidwell of Parkville, Maryland

                Dr. Nichilas Xanthos of EyeCare 20/20

  • Gene Maresca and Steve Kramaritsch of Alcon Labs for supplying surgical packs, implants, and post op drops.
  • Sarah MacKay of Bausch & Lomb for supplying post op drops and bags, and providing lunch for the staff on the surgery day.
  • Pat Tobia of Hoya for supplying implants.
  • Greg Cardone of Ista for providing post op drops.
  • Mary Ann Hogue of MST for supplying surgical supplies.


We plan on continuing Vision Harvest again next year.  I have already received several inquiries from needy patients, and have begun a new list for next year's event.  If you, or someone you know is in need, please call our hotline at  


Other people have asked what they can do to help.  It is important to spread the word.  Please join our facebook fan page and share it with your friends.  Finally, I need to mention that although many people have volunteered their time and resources, Vision Harvest is NOT run without costs.  We can certainly use financial support to keep thing growing in the future.  Money raised will help defray hard costs, such as surgical center staffing, equipment, and supplies not donated by suppliers. We are currently in the process of applying for non-profit status, and therefore this cannot be considered a tax deductable donation at this time.  If you are so inclined, please support our efforts!  I thank you, and our patients thank you as well!!

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October 21, 2010

Vision Harvest 2010: From Tennessee to NJ With a Little Help From Her Friends..

So tomorrow is our second annual Vision Harvest free cataract surgery day!  I saw our final patient pre operatively today, and its a great story!  Shirley lives in Tennessee, can't see because of her cataracts, and can't afford surgery as she has no insurance.  Last year her daughter, Amanda heard about our program, after the fact, while surfing the web.  She called our office and was placed on this year's list.

When Amanda got the call about this year's program, she had only 1 concern, how to get her mom to New Jersey to get the free cataract surgery.  Her solution, a facebook campaign to raise money for transportation and hotel during Shirley's stay.  The campaign worked, raising the $600 necessary to make the trip!

I saw Shirley today, she is a good cataract surgery candidate, and will surely benefit from tomorrow's procedure.  We were even able to arrange for her to have free post op care back home in Tennessee.

As I told Shirley in the following video, "She has a great daughter!!"


October 19, 2010

2 Things That Excited Me at This Year's AAO Meeting

2010-10-16 Chicago River Front

I was fortunate to spend this past weekend in Chicago at the Annual AAO Meeting.  It was great catching up with old friends and colleauges, having some awesome meals, and enjoying the beautiful city of Chicago.  I even had the time to spend a few hours enjoying one of my hobies:  taking some pictures of the city.

There was a lot to learn at this year's meeting, however, 2 things really excited me:

  1. The Visian ICL Toric.  I was able get certified in the implantation of this yet to be approved phakic lens.  I have been implanting the Visian ICL for several years and find that it affordes excellent vision to both high and moderate myopes.  If these patients also have astigmatism, I currently will do LASIK about 1 month after implantation of the ICL.  The Toric ICL will allow me to treat both the myopia and astigmatism in 1 sitting, I can't wait for its final approval
  2. The LenSx Laser.  I must start off by saying that I was a skeptic when I first heard about using the femtosecond laser to aid in cataract surgery.   I currently get excelent results using today's technology, my refractive cataract patients are able to read and drive without glasses or contact lenses.  I thought that the only thing this product would do would be to add cost to the procedure.  After seeing the laser in action, I realized that I was dead wrong!  "Designed to revolutionize key steps in the cataract procedure, the LenSx Laser now allows surgeons to deliver the benefits of precise femtosecond laser technology to even more of their patients. What exactly does that mean? Cataract surgery that is more precise, predictable, reproducible and safe."  The LenSx Laser will be able to produce uniform incisions, soften a cataract so less energy is used to remove it, provide uniform access to the cataract itself, and treat pre exisiting astigmatism, all in under 5 minutes.  This will translate into tighter outcomes and less complications.  Its cost will be high, so the laser will probably only be used on refractive cataract cases, where out of pocket payments will be required.  Our surgical center has already put our name on the list to hopefully be one of the first centers in the country to offer this exciting new technology!

This is what I love about ophthalmology, just when you think you know it all, just when you think you can do it all, something new comes along to make things better!

2010-10-17 Chicago Skyline in Reflection

October 18, 2010

4 More Days Until This Year's Vision Harvest Free Cataract Day!

We are coming down to the wire for Vision Harvest 2010 Free cataract surgery Day at River Drive Surgery Center.  As of today, 25 patients are scheduled to receive free cataract surgery on this Friday, October 22.  Patients have come from as far away as Virginia and up state New York to be evaluated for the Vision Harvest program.  We require very little:

  • Visually significant cataracts
  • No insurance
  • Unable to afford to pay for cataract surgery

Patients are not required to be from New Jersey, or to be citizens; we don't ask these questions!  What we have found is pretty amazing: 

  • Many of this year's patients are young with large cataracts
  • Many have lost their jobs and the insurance that came with it
  • Many are students
  • Many have jobs that do not offer insurance

Here is another story of Gary.  Gary is working, but does not receive health care benefits...


We continue to hear about health care reform.  The recent over haul has done and will continue to address the issues that couple health insurance with employment.  If our government is going to require health care coverage for all, it must uncouple employer sponsored health care..

I am very much looking forward to Friday's event.  I will be sure to take pictures, videos, and report back to you all next week!

We are currently applying for Tax Exempt status.  Anyone interested in making a donation can do so here.

October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day: Water (and LASIK)

Today is Blog Action Day, an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. The aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all.  By doing so on the same day, the blogging community effectively changes the conversation on the web and focuses audiences around the globe on that issue. 


Since I have already blogged about water through our See:Water initiative, I felt it was important to be a part of this world bloggining community initiative.  The premis of our See:Water campaign was to increase awareness: almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. That’s one in eight of us who are subject to preventable disease and even death because of something that many of us take for granted.  Access to clean water is not just a human rights issue. It’s an environmental issue. An animal welfare issue. A sustainability issue. Water is a global issue, and it affects all of us. 

We asked patients to contribute to the Charity:Water campaign, matched their donation, and rewarded them with a discount on their LASIK surgery!  Cause-related marketing is a win:  win:  win for all involved!  We raised over $5,000 for Charity:Water... 

This was so successful that we decided to partner with the Women’s Cancer Programs of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF)  this month which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

So, Since I need to blog about water today, here are some interesting tidbits from the Blog Action Day Blog:

  • Bottled Water: Even though people in the US have access to clean water from their taps, they drink an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled. More Info »
  • Uninhabitable Rivers: Today, 40% of America’s rivers and 46% of America’s lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life. That’s not surprising considering the fact that 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, storm water, and industrial waste are discharged into US waters annually. More Info »
  • Fashion Footprint: That cotton t-shirt you’re wearing right now took 400 gallons of water to produce, and your jeans required an extra 1800 gallons. Not wearing cotton? The dyes and synthetic fibers used to make your clothes create waste that’s among the many contributors to water pollution. More Info »

OK, time to get involved, if nothing else, sign the following petition:


Change.org|Start Petition

October 14, 2010

Chicago, Here I Come!

Just getting ready to pack my bags for a working weekend in Chicago.  I will be attending the annual AAO (American Academy of Ophthalmology) meeting.  This meeting, along with the ASCRS (American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons) meeting in the spring, are the two "big" eye meetings of the year.

Personally, I plan on getting certified in using the Toric ICL by Staar, looking for new equipment, checking out EMR (Electronic Medical Record) systems, and reconnecting with old friends and colleauges.  If anything intersting crops up, I will either blog or tweet about it.  @aao_ophth has asked me to use #aaochi10 hashtag on twitter to follow tweets and pearls live at the conference!    

October 05, 2010

After 22 Years FDA Continues to Drop the Ball on Eye Drop Packaging Mix Ups

22 Years ago I had a letter published in the Archives of Ophthalmology titled:  Corneal Abrasion From Accidental Instillation of Cyanoacrylate Into the Eye.  This letter described a 38-year-old woman was referred from a local emergency department to my office after accidentally putting instant nail glue into her left eye.  She had been taking gentamicin sulfate (antibiotics) drops to treat conjunctivitis, and had inadvertently mixed up the bottles, which looked similar to her.  I also stated that: There have been many accounts of accidental ocular instillation of cyanoacrylate adhesives. In 1982, a similarity in packaging of ophthalmic medications and the adhesive containers was noted to be a consumer safety problem. This case will illustrate that, five years later, this consumer safety problem still exists.

Well, this been 22 years since that letter, and the problem still exists today!  MyFox Phoenix did a story yesterday titled:   Woman Mistakes Superglue for Eye drops FDA to investigate medical mishap

She reached for eyedrops and instead used superglue -- and it happens a lot more often than you might think.

Irmgard Holm had cataract surgery last year. She mistakenly reached for what she thought was one of her half dozen eyedrop medications -- but the burning sensation that followed let her know something was seriously wrong.

It was superglue.

"The bottles are identical and I am not young anymore, but I am not senile," says Holm.

I guess the FDA is more concerned with the likes of Morris Waxler and his "LASIK-Bashing" than to concern itself with a true safety issue.  Its not too difficult to prohibit the bottling of substances toxic to the eye in similar containers! 

FDA, get with the program!!

October 04, 2010

The LASIK Debate Continues on CNN

Last week's LASIK debate aired on CNN.  It pitted ophthalmologist Stephen Slade vs former FDA official Morris Waxler.  While Dr. Slade did a great job in defending LASIK's clinical track record, I don't think he addressed some of Waxler's false claims adequately, including:

  • "only 60 percent can get rid of their glasses and contact lenses"
  • "There's -- the failure rate if you calculate a failure rate based on FDA data, and you can se it from the charts I sent to CNN, the failure rate is over 50 percent."
  • "18 percent or more suffer from glare halo, dry eyes and similar problems."
  • "some of the ophthalmologists who have been responsible for the military adopting these issues have a side business in which they conduct -- they perform Lasik surgery. So, they've profited mightily by this."
These statistics are simply wrong.  They need to be addressed and discredited!  Here are some of the statistics that I have previously quoted from USAEyes CORE survey:
  • 99% report quality of life as expected, better, or much better
  • 98% day vision as expected, better, or much better
  • 98% no complications or issues are seldom problematic
  • 98% would recommend surgery to family and friends.
  • 97% would have surgery again, knowing what they know now
  • 96% wear corrective lenses as often as expected, less, or much less than expected
  • 96% report post op vision without lenses as expected, better, or much better than expected when compared to preop vision with lenses
  • 96% report overall quality of vision as expected, better, or much better than expected
  • 91% no complications at any time
  • 91% night vision as expected, better, or much better
  • 7% complications seldom problematic
    – yet 91% of these same patients would have surgery again
  • 2% complications frequent or always problematic
    – yet 22% of f these same patients would have surgery again

LASIK is too successful a procedure to be tarnished by false claims.  Granted, theree are complications with LASIK, as there are with any surgical procedure, however, we need to dispute Waxler's claims and not let them go unchecked.  We also need to know what motives fuel Waxler's false accusations!

Here is a copy of the CNN transcript for those interested: Download Rethinking The Safety of LASIK