Combating cataracts

Nurse Jan Faber can remember when patients in the 1960s had cataract surgery they would have to keep their heads still for days by using sandbags on each side.

Oh, how things have changed through the years with surgery at Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center. One thing that hasn’t changed is Faber, an employee at the hospital since 1958.

“I’ve just stayed in surgery and I’ve loved it,” Faber said.

The latest equipment Faber operates is a Centurion Phacomulsification System for cataract surgery. MMSC is the only hospital in Iowa to have this type of machine and just received it earlier this month.

Ophthamology Dr. Jim Davison said this machine is the latest in cataract surgery and he said works as if it were taking the candy out of the middle of an M&M without damaging the shell- if the inside of the shell was the nucleus of the lens of the eye.

Since Faber was around for the first phaco machine at MMSC in 1972, her career has now spanned the operation of seven different phaco machines.

“I guarantee you nobody else in the world has used all seven,” Davison said of Faber’s machine knowledge. “That’s pretty remarkable. I can’t say enough good things about Jan.”

Davison is also a seasoned staff member at MMSC with more than 30 years at the hospital.

“Jan’s trained me over the last 33 years,” he said.

Those days of people staying several days in the hospital are over as they now come in the morning, have the cataract surgery, and go home.

“It’s just like going to the grocery story or filling your car with gas,” Faber said. “They can have surgery and go about their business.”

Faber recalls incisions formerly were 180 mm long when they started doing cataracts and now they can do the surgery with 2 to 3 mm incisions.

Faber has renewed her medical license for three more years, which means her remarkable 65-year career will continue into the near future.

The phaco machines were originally brought to Iowa by Wolfe Eye Clinic and the clinic remains a partner with MMSC in their operation.