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4-year-old is First Pediatric Patient in U.S. to Undergo Laser Cataract Removal
Date:11/25/2013

Springfield, MO (PRWEB) November 25, 2013

It was a simple walk, but her excitement over a flock of birds was extraordinary. It was at that moment Erin Crain realized his 4-year-old daughter Alyssa could finally see.

Just a few weeks before, she became the first pediatric patient in the United States to have cataracts removed using a femtosecond laser. Mercy Hospital Springfield invested in two lasers in spring 2013, beginning groundbreaking laser cataract surgery for all patients, with no additional charge.

Cataracts in children are rare but need to be treated quickly so the child’s brain can develop the ability to see. "I didn’t even realize kids can get cataracts," said Erin. "I took her to the eye doctor because she was stumbling over things and having trouble walking, so I suspected she needed glasses."

Their appointment with Mercy pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Scott Atkinson revealed Alyssa’s cataracts were so bad she couldn’t even see her father’s face. Her only chance at sight was surgery, but Erin was presented with a historic choice. His daughter could have traditional cataract surgery or for the first time ever outside of Europe, he could opt for laser precision.

Removing a cataract in a child is much more complicated than in an adult eye. "In children, the capsule of the cataract is like plastic wrap," said Mercy ophthalmologist Dr. Wendell Scott, who performed the surgery. "With the traditional technique, it’s like tearing the plastic wrap in two by stretching it until you pull it apart. The laser can make a perfectly round incision without pulling or tearing. Plus, there’s an additional step in kids. You have to remove a portion of the back of the lens as well, or it will begin to cloud up, obstructing vision all over again."

Mercy’s ophthalmology team knew from working with a colleague in Germany that the femtosecond laser could achieve
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