Curious About Cataract Surgery? Here’s One Couple’s Story

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When you help conservators restore artwork for a living, your eyes are valuable tools of the trade. But for someone with cataracts, dimming eyesight can prevent you from doing your job by dampening colors and blurring your vision.

Henry DePhillips learned this firsthand. As a chemist, he brought his insight to the art world by helping repair and refurbish priceless paintings. But it was his eyesight that brought this work to a halt — keeping him from doing what he loved and keeping his expertise from important restoration projects.

Henry’s cataracts made the lenses of his eyes progressively opaque, resulting in hazy vision and muted colors. He knew he needed help and started to learn about laser-assisted cataract surgery, a safe and common procedure often used by older adults whose vision problems are interfering with everyday life.

Henry was interested in the procedure because he was a longtime professor of chemistry at Trinity College in Hartford. Through his teaching and work as a scientist, he had worked with lasers for more than two decades and knew what they could do.

The procedure is painless and usually takes about a half hour to perform.

Henry had cataract surgery at Hartford Hospital’s Eye Surgery Center and was amazed with the results. Colors that used to blur together were now bright and clear; vivid shades of red, yellow and blue replaced the dull greys he had become accustomed to. He was able to see greater distance, allowing him to play tennis without glasses and see the ball better.

His experience at the Eye Surgery Center was so good that his wife, Shirley DePhillips, decided to plan the same procedure to address her own cataracts.

Shirley is an actor who performs in regional theater. While Henry experienced blurred vision and muted colors, Shirley’s cataracts prevented her from seeing detail — especially on stage.

After a successful procedure, Shirley now performs for local audiences without glasses, allowing her to get into character for any role. She notices the improved details everywhere she goes: from seeing the individual leaves on trees to seeing architectural details when she travels to Italy each year with Henry.

Henry and Shirley are grateful each day for their improved vision, saying their only regret is that they waited so long to do it.

Want to learn more about cataract surgery? Sign up for a free community education event here or visit



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