The video camera closes in on the eye of the patient, ready for surgery. The soothing voice of the doctor is heard as he makes sure the patient is relaxed, that the topical anesthesia has taken effect. A small instrument moves gently towards the iris, as a radical new surgical method is demonstrated by Richard Fichman, M.D.
Known in the U.S. and around the world for his innovations in ophthalmology, Dr. Fichman developed cataract surgery without needles, done in conjunction with another’s invention that dissolves the cataracts with sound waves. The patient remains awake, without pain, during the entire procedure. “Dr. Fichman is a pioneer in ophthalmic topical anesthesia,” said Dr. Robert H. Osher of Cincinnati, Ohio, who produced the video, entitled “International Advances in Phacoemulsification.” Says Dr. Fichman, a West Hartford, Connecticut resident who now heads the Fichman Eye Center in Manchester, Connecticut, “I have thousands of grateful patients who can see immediately after surgery.”
Fichman didn’t always plan to become a doctor. But classes he took at Tunxis Community College (now Tunxis Community College) in Farmington in spring 1974 marked his first step towards medical school, and ultimately to his career as an ophthalmologist.
“I’d already received my B.A. degree in history with a theatre minor from Central Connecticut State University (CCSU),” he remembered. “And I’d done all the course work towards a master’s in speech pathology at CCSU when I found I was still unsure what I wanted to do.” After a trip to Mt. Snow to clear his mind, Fichman came back with his decision. He would pursue a medical career.