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Successful Mission Trip to Belize City

Dr. Michael Wong and Annice Bacsik just returned from another successful mission trip to Belize City, this time joined by Wills Eye resident, and future Princeton Eye Group physician, Dr. Michele Markovitz! The trio worked with compassion from sunrise till sunset. Together they performed some of the world’s most challenging cataract surgeries, restoring sight to their grateful patients. The Princeton Eye Group is now celebrating their safe return home with gratitude.

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In the News: 4 Princeton doctors at The Princeton Eye Group were named among New Jersey’s Top Doctors for 2019​ by Healthy Living Magazine

Congratulations to Doctors Epstein, Jadico, Reynolds, and Wong for being named among New Jersey’s Top Doctors by Healthy Living Magazine, as recently reported by Patch.

Healthy Living Magazine, provided by NJTopDocs.com, considers itself a “trusted and exclusive healthcare resource” featuring only reviewed and approved top doctors and dentists. The magazine says it only reviews and approves providers based on merit after they have been extensively vetted.


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We are thrilled to welcome our new Ophthalmologist, Dr. Peter Murr!

We are thrilled to welcome our new Ophthalmologist, Dr. Peter Murr! Dr. Murr provides comprehensive ophthalmology services, cataract surgery, in-office laser and minor procedures, speaks intermediate Mandarin, and is bilingual English/Spanish. In his free time, he enjoys reading, soccer, and tennis.

Please be sure to welcome Dr. Murr the next time you’re in the office!

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Mission Work in Belize

Dr. Michael Wong and Annice Bacsik are back on the mission wagon. They traveled last week to Belize City, Belize, and worked with compassion from sunrise till sunset. Together they removed dozens of the world’s most difficult cataracts, restoring sight to their grateful patients. The Princeton Eye Group is now celebrating their safe return home with gratitude.

From Dr. Wong: 

“It was wonderful to go to Belize City to take care of their indigent who needed cataract surgery. What made this trip extra special was that we brought along Lucas Bonafede, a senior resident from Wills Eye Hospital, the nation’s no. 1 residency program, to teach him the “low tech” ways which were required to help them using the rudimentary equipment they have. But of course, what matters most is that we truly cured blindness in 45 patients. These patients’ cases were as bad as I’ve ever seen. Completely blind. All did well.”

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Eye Trivia and Interesting Eye Facts

While putting together our new redesigned site, we asked our doctors for facts and trivia about eyes. You’ll find them scattered all around the site, but here are a few extra ones you may find interesting.

The average person blinks 12 times per minute – about 10,000 blinks in an average day.

Only 1/6th of the eyeball is exposed to the outside world.

Eyelashes have an average life span of 5 months.

About half of our brain is involved in the seeing process. Humans are very much visual animals.

The external muscles that move the eyes are the strongest muscles in the human body for the job that they have to do. They are 100 times more powerful than they need to be.

The eyeball of a human weighs approximately 28 grams, or one ounce.

Ophthalmologists are graduates of a medical school, whereas optometrists are not.

Cataract formation is a normal aging phenomenon, and so all animals in the kingdom that see will get cataracts if they live long enough.

In Lasik, the accuracy is measured in microns. A micron is one-millioneth of a meter.

On a dark night, a human eye can see a candle flickering 30 miles away.

You see with your brain. ​ The eyes sense light and is connected to the brain by over a million nerve fibers.

Theodore Roosevelt is the only president who lost an eye while still in office.

The word “eyeball” was coined by William Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The giant squid has the largest eye.

At any given point, your eyeballs are moving 70 to 100 times per second all over.

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

Babies cry but don’t produce tears until one to three months after birth.

Of all the muscles in our body, the eye muscles are the most active.

All babies no matter what nationality or race, have blue eyes in the womb.

The shark cornea has been used in eye surgery, since its cornea is similar to a human cornea.

The most common injury caused by cosmetics is to the eye by a mascara wand.

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Dr. Stephen Felton: “I feel very lucky.”

stephen felton bookDr. Stephen Felton began what would become Princeton Eye Group in 1980.

As he enters the twilight of his career, recently limiting his practice to three days a week, Dr. Felton has begun reflecting on an incredible life and career that nearly never occurred. For Stephen was born, two months premature, in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. His mother Eva Feldsztein would escape the Holocaust and Nazi tyranny with her ‘miracle’ baby, but not before experiencing and enduring unspeakable tragedy and atrocity.

Eva and Stephen survived the war with the help of the Matacz’s, a Polish Christian family, only to learn later of the extermination of Stephen’s father Victor and step-brother Stasio in the Auschwitz death camp.

This is not a subject that Eva would ever be comfortable speaking about. In fact, she never did until recording her memoirs prior to her death in 1992. Those words would later be published in I Shall Lead You Through The Nights-The Holocaust Memoir of Eva Feldsztein (ComteqPublishing.com).

Among the thousands of patients that Dr. Felton has touched in 35 years, few if any are aware of his story. He is well known in Princeton and throughout the area as an accomplished and trusted ophthalmologist and surgeon. While never comfortable talking about the past, he recently reflected, “I have always been driven to help others. I never wanted to be wealthy, just comfortable. Inside I had a fatalistic view of life knowing bad things could happen at any moment, knowing it can all disappear in a day. I wanted to be a nice person and have a good family. In that respect I feel very lucky.”

Stephen arrived in the United States in 1947, settling in Brooklyn, New York with his mother and new stepfather. His role model would become his Uncle Joe, who he would later follow into the chemical business. Stephen would earn his Ph.D in Chemistry before going to medical school at age 30. He wanted to improve people’s lives.

Today, he feels Holocaust education is critical. “People need to know how bad things can be. How can one person, like Hitler, generate that kind of hatred? How does humanity allow that to happen?”

He spoke publicly on the subject for the first time at the Princeton Jewish Center. It was a cathartic experience. “Even my close friends didn’t know my story. It was time. My mother was nothing short of an amazing, brave and kind person. I feel very lucky.”

Eva Feldzstein’s spirit and legacy lives on in Stephen, his family, his colleagues and the thousands of patients and lives that he has helped to improve.

Dr. Felton is most proud of his partners and colleagues and all that they have contributed to the community. He has performed over 10,000 cataract procedures over 35 years. And he has helped Princeton Eye Group become the most popular and respected practice in the area. “We conduct business as true partners. Through discussion and consensus we have made almost all of our important business decisions. Our collective training and caring of patients is what has bonded us together all of these years.”

Stephen and his family were reunited with the Matacz family in Poland. They were recognized in 2012 with the title Righteous Among Nations by Yad Vashem and the Israeli government for having hidden Eva and Stephen from the Nazis.

Stephen plans to travel and play more golf with his newfound ‘spare’ time.

I Shall Lead You Through The Nights is used today at colleges and universities as part of their Holocaust education programs.

Update: read more about Dr. Felton’s story in Princeton’s Town Topics.

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Teaching at Wills is Its Own Reward For Dr. Epstein

Dr. Epstein has been teaching ophthalmology residents at Wills Eye Hospital for the past 10 years. Spending time in the Wills Cataract and Primary Eye Care Clinic and the operating room teaching cataract surgery is his way of giving back to his alma mater. Dr. Epstein derives great pride in knowing that his efforts ensure the next generation of cataract surgeons are as talented as the current one.

“It is such an honor and a privilege to teach at one of the top eye hospitals in the world” says Dr. Epstein of Wills. “The residents are so bright and eager and are sponges for knowledge. They constantly ask questions and listen intently. It forces me to be at the top of my game. Seeing their progression from pupils to star cataract surgeons is extremely rewarding.”

It is not always easy though. “Performing cataract surgery and teaching are two different skills but one reinforces the other,” according to Dr. Epstein. “I love the challenge of explaining how to do something that comes naturally – breaking it down into its component parts and simplifying it so it can be repeated.” Advanced technology used in cataract surgery is constantly changing and a surgeon needs to be able to adapt to these new technologies in order to offer the best care for their patients. “My job is not just to teach the residents how to use the currently available methods but to build a foundation of skills in order to continuously improve and utilize new technology as it becomes available.”

Asked why he would give up the equivalent of two weeks vacation a year to teach at Wills, the answer is readily available. “Ultimately, doctors go into medicine to help people. In a surgeon’s career, he or she will have the opportunity to restore vision and improve the lives of tens of thousands of patients. By educating the residents, I can amplify that impact to hundreds of thousands of patients. It’s a way I can maximize my positive impact on society.”

Teaching has another unexpected benefit. According to Dr. Epstein, “Teaching fundamental and advanced techniques makes you a better surgeon by forcing you to constantly re-evaluate your own mechanics and skills.” All of the doctors at Princeton Eye Group help to teach residents, medical and college students from Wills Eye Hospital, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Princeton University.

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The ‘Wong Way’ Leads to Innovators Award for Dr. Michael Wong

parts of the eyeDr. Michael Wong, a pioneer in minimally invasive cataract surgery, is the distinguished recipient of the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame’s Innovator’s Award. This recognition honors lifetime achievement, invention and innovation among outstanding, New Jersey-based scientists, engineers and researchers.

Dr. Wong is the first clinical physician to be honored as an innovator by the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame. His surgical procedures to correct cataracts, the most common and treatable form of blindness, reduce the rate of post-operative infection and promote faster healing. The technique he developed, known as the ‘Wong Way,’ is now used world-wide. For three decades Dr. Wong has been in the vanguard in refractive surgery in central New Jersey, introducing radial keratotomy in the 80’s and LASIK surgery in the 90’s. He has also been recognized with the Distinguished Physicians Humanitarian Award by the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro for charitable work performed locally, as well as overseas in Africa and South America.

The New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame was established in 1987 to honor individuals and corporations who have made New Jersey ‘The Invention State.’ Previous Innovator Award recipients include Lyman Spitzer, Jr. for distinguished achievements in stellar dynamics, plasma physics, thermonuclear fusion and space astronomy; Frank B. Gilbreth, who pioneered the field of scientific workforce management, positively affecting engineering, education and personnel

procedures; and John von Neumann, who established the mathematical architecture of computer logic and concept of internally stored programs.

Upon being informed of the award, Dr. Wong said, “I am honored to keep company with these distinguished past recipients and the other awardees.”

After winning the award, Dr. Wong was elected to serve as the Selection Committee Chairman for the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame, a position he currently holds. He admits, “It’s fun having the opportunity to read all sorts of science and review patents.”

According to an article in The Archives of Oph­thalmology, researchers have estimated that 20.5 million Americans over the age of 40 have a cat­aract in at least one eye, and women are nearly 40 percent more likely to develop them than men.

In the elderly, cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss. Cataracts are the clouding over of the clear, crystalline lens inside the eye. This cloudiness scatters light, reducing contrast and causing glare, especially in bright light or while driving at night.

The common treatment for cataracts involves removing the cloudy lens with ultrasound that liquifies the cataract, and then restoring vision with an intraocular lens transplant.

Dr. Michael Wong has developed a technique to improve the sealing effect for sutureless clear corneal cataract incisions. He creates a supraincisional stromal pocket just before making the clear corneal incision. This pocket is hydrated at the end of the procedure to increase a downward pressure to oppose the upward force of the intra­ocular pressure. This compresses the clear corneal incision, improving its seal to speed healing and reduces the chance of infection. This ‘no-stitch, minimally invasive technique’ is used world-wide, and has been featured in the most prominent medical journals.

Dr. Wong has contributed his method to a major ophthalmology textbook titled Mastering Refractive IOLs: The Art and Science, edited by David Chang.

Congratulations Dr. Wong!

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Third World Cataract Mission Trips

Dr. Michael Wong has been fortunate to have a strong support system both in his associates at the Princeton Eye Group and his family, that allow him time to help those in need.

“I simply see the work I do overseas as an extension of what I do here locally. There are no borders to humanity,” explains Dr. Wong. His many international contacts through organizations such as Surgical Eye Expeditions and Vision Outreach International helps tremendously in the logistical planning. He plans on making annual missions in the future in addition to the significant amount of charity provided locally by the doctors of the Princeton Eye Group.

You coordinated an “eye camp in Oshakati, Namibia. Tell us about it.

Surgical Eye Expeditions connects a host ophthalmologist from a needy country with a willing volunteer such as me. Namibia is fortunate to have a dedicated “Blindness Secretariat” by the name of Helena Ndume. After a brief correspondence, I gathered my son Matthew, age 16 at the time, and hauled surgical supplies along with a caravan of Red Cross volunteers and nurses, to this impoverished area of Namibia near the Angolan border. This area had been ravaged by a civil war and drought. Those in need of eye surgery basically wait, years at a time, until an “eye camp” can be set-up, and only hope that they make it on the list. There was more work than expected, but undaunted, we worked 16 hour days and actually took care of every last person who had come, some from hundreds of miles away, many by foot. The medical situation was challenging, but the people couldn’t have been nicer or more appreciative.

Twice you’ve gone to remote villages in the Andes mountains of Peru under difficult circumstances. You performed 75 cataract surgeries and 25 surgeries for individuals with crossed eyes in Juliaca and repeated that program in Huamachuco. Describe those trips.

It was a compelling story, one to which I had to respond. The indigenous Indians of Juliaca, descendants of the Incans, are amongst the most impoverished in South America, caught between neglect and civil war. At nearly 14,000 feet elevation, the extreme UV light has caused an epidemic of cataracts. Without supplies, the local ophthalmologist was hamstrung. This adventure included my son Scott, and the two of us completed the first cataract surgeries done in that region in decades. Unprepared for the elevation and freezing temperatures, this was the most difficult trip for me from a physical point-of-view. I suffered the worst headaches of my life and developed asthma. Still worth my going, nevertheless.

The Huamachuco trip presented other challenges. Arriving at this site, the entire country of Peru underwent a general strike. The town services shut down, including the nurses at the hospital. So I “deputized” the handful of teenagers who volunteered for the trip, taught them operative technique and transformed them into operating nurses. My daughter Julia, 16 at the time, who came along thinking she would be doing some paperwork and taking pictures, was “first scrub-assistant” for the very first modern-day cataract operation in Huamachuco. I learned how much youthful exuberance and enthusiasm can do when push comes to shove.

You’ve included your family in some of your service trips. Tell us about that.

It’s more fun when you can share and learn, and never better than with your family. All three of my children have been on overseas missions with me, and they did so eagerly and have not been disappointed. My wife, an R.N., switched gears and went from being a cardiac nurse to an ophthalmic nurse so that she can come on these missions with me. It has become a family affair and an enriching one at that. I learn from these trips: about humanity, about other peoples, about myself. What the kids learn is different, as they come from a different perspective, but learning they do. Not sure what, but the experience is so different from the book learning in Princeton. I encourage young people to explore in these directions. Many say it’s life-transforming.

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