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A red, black and white ink drawing of an operating room with a pediatric ophthalmologist and his assistants garbed in surgical gowns that are dark with the side lighting of the bulb and the lightning of the laser. A patient lies on the operating table receiving the laser treatment to prevent blindness

'Laser Procedure to Prevent Blindness'
(ink drawing with tempera, 36' x 43')
©May H. Lesser


The red glow of the only bulb and the green flashes from the 800 taps of the foot pedal of the laser beam gave a Rembrandt chiaroscuro to the operating room. The pediatric ophthalmologist and his assistants are actually garbed in surgical gowns very much like the 17th Century ones and are dark with the side lighting of the bulb and the lightning of the laser. The patient is a premature of 26 weeks whose lungs and brain are not well developed and the blood vessels in the retina have not disappeared. The procedure is to burn off the area around the blood cells so that they cannot grow and pull the retina off, causing blindness. The laser beam goes directly from the head piece of the surgeon through the lens he holds at the eye, to the retina, "inside out," an advance over the cryon beam which freezes a larger area than necessary. It is precise and tedious work. Afterwards the surgeon walked with me to the female locker room and proceeded to tell me about his wife and sons and daughter and where they were at college, what they majored in, one in film directorship, another in computers, and I wondered why he was spending so much time with me. We were both so tired; it had been a pitiful afternoon. We never said anything out loud, but it surely would occur to anyone in that O.R. that this was all a mistake! It was a powerful argument for the pre-natal care for teen-aged mothers, and this one had taken crack. The physician had needed time to "change gears," so to speak before he could come down to the level of parking garages and traffic home. An ounce of prevention, yes. But, there is no lifetime of cure for this baby.