Cataracts are cloudy areas of an eye lens, which lead to poor vision.
“Cataracts are the number one cause of blindness worldwide,” said Darrell Williams, an ophthalmologist for Trinity Regional Eye Care. “And fortunately, we have tremendous technology to restore sight.”
Around 60,000 cataract procedures happen each day around the world, according to medical website Healio.
But it’s not every day that a man who helped invent a multifocal lens to correct it gets the surgery himself.
Bill Isaacson, a North Dakota native, developed the world’s first multifocal intraocular lens more than 30 years ago.
“I wrote a business plan and started on a track down vision care with a lens that was totally transparent to oxygen. It would breathe so you didn’t have to take it out and sterilize it at all,” he said.
His invention even helped his mother in 1989.
“One of my patients was his mother,” said Williams. “She was a watercolor artist. She could again see colors, helped her to read and drive. It gave her a lot of joy, so that was special for Bill. And it kind of comes full circle now, to be able to help him as well.”
On Thursday, Isaacson had cataract surgery on his right eye.
“I feel great, wonderful,” said Isaacson. “I didn’t feel a thing. And I know my vision is going to be as good as it was when I was young, I’m expecting it’ll be just fine. I’ll see 20/20. For the first time in my life, I will probably not be wearing glasses.”
Another cool thing for Isaacson is that he is the first patient in North Dakota to get the updated trifocal lens, with new materials and manufacturing process.
“This is like the great-great-grandson of the one that he designed,” said Williams. “It was revolutionary. It was truly a remarkable invention.”
Isaacson says he hoped he could do something that improved the quality of life for people — and he has. His lens has helped millions.
Isaacson will have cataract surgery on his left eye in about a month.