Sunday, January 18, 2009


I will be having eye surgery on my right eye at Jules Stein Eye Institute (UCLA) on January 20th at 11:30am. I will be participating in a compassionate study to have an artificial iris implanted during a cataract extraction and intraocular lens implantation surgery. “This implant (of this artificial iris) is designed to reduce the amount of light coming into the eye, like a natural iris, reducing symptoms of veiling glare and improving vision.”(Dr. Kevin Miller, Compassionate Study, UCLA) The artificial iris is not FDA approved, but has been allowed by the FDA when combined with a standardized eye surgery like cataract removal surgery. This artificial iris has been successfully used in Europe for about 19 years. The artificial iris is not covered by insurance.

I was born with what is called bilateral anaridia, which means I have no iris in either eye. I was also born with cataracts in both eyes. The iris is what dilates and contracts the pupil and is the also the color of the eye. The iris controls the amount of light let into the eye. Because something is missing in my eye the structure of my cornea is very fragile. Over the years my eyes have developed chronic corneal ulcerations thus causing me to lose my eyesight. I have been legally blind for about fourteen years (I am in my sixteenth and final year of homeschooling). The doctors have told me for most of my life that my cataracts are inoperable and that I did not qualify to get artificial irises. That is, until May 2008, when I went to Jules Stein Eye Institute.

Dr. Kevin Miller, who is performing the surgery, says that, “because the cornea is so clouded and heavily scarred, it will be very difficult to see the surgical site.” There is a chance that I will regain some eyesight (my cataract is very dense). Cataract surgery is the most common surgery in the world. My incision will be larger than ordinary cataract surgery, due to the iris implant. If all goes well in one year, I will have an artificial cornea implant done on my right eye. The doctor believes that my vision will then be greatly improved. The doctor will consider surgery for my left eye, if all goes well with the right eye.

How you can pray:

1. That the Lord would be honored and glorified in my surgery.

2. That I would never forget the many lessons the Lord has taught me in my blindness.

3. That the Lord would use me to minister and proclaim the gospel to those around me.

4. That the Lord would guide Dr. Miller and all who assist him.

5. That the lens capsule will remain intact for the duration of the surgery (this is where the intraocular lens and artificial iris ring will be placed and secured.)

6. That there will no complications. The most common complications are infection, bleeding, and retina detachment.

7. Pray that Plan B would not need to be implemented. Plan B is that if when Dr. Miller gets into the surgical site and finds that the supportive tissue surrounding where the intraocular lens and artificial iris ring are too stretched out (not very elastic), then Dr. Miller will only remove the cataract (the clouded natural lens) and close up without implanting the intraocular lens and the iris ring. Dr. Miller would have to do another surgery later to put in a different kind of intraocular lens that has an artificial iris built into it. This plan B surgery would involve a much larger incision and would not be as accurate location of iris.

8. That I will have a rapid recovery with little pain.

9. That things would go smoothly in homeschooling Craig while I recover.

The following link will take you to where you can watch a video of an iris ring being inserted on someone’s eye. I am not sure you would want to watch something like this, you choose. . . The is blood involved! I was brave and watched it. I feel more confident about the surgery after seeing it. My surgery will be done in reverse order. Dr. Miller will remove my cataract and then put in the intraocular lens and then implant the iris ring.

1. Click on OP Videos tab

2. Click on aniridia implants in the first column

3. Click on aniridia ring in second column

4. Click on Type 50C in third column

5. Scroll down and click “download video”

You can save this video to your computer if you wish. Bear in mind that this video was made back in 1997, improvements have been made and the doctor is putting in model 50F.

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