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Virtua physicians see eye to eye on vision correction

Bookmark and Share "I knew that I needed glasses to see things at a distance," explains Lemuel Ariaratnam, MD, radiation oncologist with the Fox Chase Virtua Health Cancer Program. "But this was a different feeling — blurry and uncomfortable. I felt like I was straining all the time." What Dr. Ariaratnam is describing is something that millions suffer from every year — a cataract. A cataract occurs when the center of the eye lens, which is normally soft and clear, hardens and becomes opaque or cloudy. This hardening may also distort colors. Dr. Ariaratnam's vision is vital to his work and his personal life. He provides sophisticated radiation treatment for people with cancer and he is very active outside of work, playing tennis and golf. Without better vision, it was clear that Dr. Ariaratnam wouldn't be able to continue enjoying these activities. After doing some research, Dr. Ariaratnam decided to see Virtua ophthalmologist, Varunan Sivalingam, MD. Dr. Sivalingam went over all of the treatment options. These included cataract treatment that uses a monofocal lens to increase distance vision and clarity, as well as a treatment that uses a multifocal lens to provide improved up-close and distance vision, but nothing in between. However, he recommended treatment with a newly FDA-approved lens — Crystalens — for many reasons. "Dr. Ariaratnam had prior corrective surgery, so simply implanting another multifocal lens could still leave him without a full range of vision," explains Dr. Sivalingam. "The Crystalens would correct this problem, providing him with the ability to see up-close, far away, and in between." After weighing the many advantages of this type of lens, Dr. Ariaratnam agreed to have it implanted. "Crystalens is the first type of lens designed to act like the eye's natural lens," states Dr. Sivalingam. "It corrects the cataract as well as refractive problems, reducing dependency on glasses." Dr. Sivalingam was the first ophthalmologist in South Jersey to implant this type of lens in spring of 2004. Since that time, he has performed more than 100 procedures using this new lens. "The procedure went very smoothly — I was back to work the next day," says Dr. Ariaratnam, who was thrilled with the results. Dr. Sivalingam also shared his satisfaction with the procedure: "It was so rewarding that we not only met his expectations, we exceeded them." Today, Dr. Ariaratnam's cataract is no longer a problem, nor is his general vision, which had previously required him to wear glasses. "It really is amazing," states Dr. Ariaratnam. "Not only is the blurriness gone, but after 50 years of wearing glasses, I no longer have to." The signs of a cataract
* Increasing difficulty with distance vision
* "Streaking" effect when focusing on lights
* Color distortion
* Discomfort with sunlight
Types of cataracts
Nuclear cataract: This is most common type of cataract and is part of the natural aging process.
Cortical cataract: This type of cataract is seen mostly in people with diabetes and causes glare and loss of contrast.
Subcapsular cataract: This type of cataract is most common in those with diabetes and those who are nearsighted. It can also be seen in people who take cortisone. It causes extreme light sensitivity and blurring. Physician profile
Varunan Sivalingam, MD, board-certified ophthalmologist, specializes in laser vision correction, glaucoma and cataract treatment. Dr. Sivalingam has performed thousands of LASIK surgeries and is one of only seven physicians in South Jersey and one of approximately 350 throughout the country who are trained to perform Crystalens procedures. Dr. Sivalingam received his medical degree from UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He completed a residency in ophthalmology at Penn State Medical Center.