For example, cataracts, which are described as a natural clouding of the eye lens, are fairly common, but if left untreated, can lead to blindness. Wende Cappetta, SYVCH Vice-President states, “We highly recommend that everyone, especially those ages 40 and older, schedule an eye appointment and get a complete, dilated eye exam as the best strategy to protect their vision.”

According to PBA, today more than 22 million Americans age 40 and older have cataracts; and according to the National Eye Institute, by age 80, more than half of all Americans will either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. There are no known medications or treatment options besides surgery to correct cataracts. Harold Ridley, MD, implanted the first intraocular lens in 1949; and Charles Kelman, MD, removed a cataract using ultrasonic energy in 1967 with a self-designed instrument named the phacoemulsifier. These two innovations laid the ground work for today’s small incision cataract surgery.

SYVCH has kept pace with advancements in cataract surgical technology and offers state-of-the-art equipment that corrects cataracts and can reduce or eliminate the need for eye glasses. The procedure is done by using the new INFINITI® Vision System by Alcon. The surgeon makes a tiny incision on the side of the cornea, removes the eye’s clouded natural lens (using a procedure known as phacoemulsification), and then replaces it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). Because the incision is less than an eighth of an inch, stitches are not typically required and the eye heals quickly.

Denise Holmes, RN, Surgical Services Manager at SYVCH, has been overseeing the department for 17 years noted, “Fortunately, modern cataract surgical procedures are outpatient, lasting only 15 to 30 minutes, and cause little to no pain. About 95 percent of patients are able to restore their full pre-cataract distance vision after undergoing the standard intraocular lens (IOL) procedure. Our Surgical Services team is present during the entire procedure to keep the patient comfortable.”

Steven D. Zelko, MD, has been practicing ophthalmology for 22 years and remarked, “I enjoy performing cataract surgeries at Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital. Having the new advanced Alcon INFINITI System and an exceptional staff at a small hospital is ideal for my patients who need cataract surgery.”

Robert W. Poulin, MD, has been practicing ophthalmology for 29 years and uses the INFINITI Vision System at SYVCH stated, “Working at Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital allows patients to have surgery and post-care in the Valley. There is superior care right here in your backyard.”

For more information on scheduling an eye examination and having cataract surgery at Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital, contact board certified ophthalmologists practicing at SYVCH: Dr. Steven Zelko or Dr. Robert Poulin at 805-688-6612.

Founded in 1964, the not-for-profit Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital (SYVCH) provides high quality outpatient surgical services, inpatient care, comprehensive imaging (including MRI, CT, digital mammography, ultrasound, X-ray), on-site laboratory, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, physicians’ specialty clinic and 24/7 emergency services to the community. Located at 2050 Viborg Road in Solvang, SYVCH is part of the Cottage Health System family, which includes Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, Cottage Children’s Hospital, Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital and Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital. For more information call 805-688-6431 or visit their website.


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