March 8, 2017

Anita I. Miedziak, M.D. of the Princeton Eye Group Specializes in Cornea, Cataract and LASIK Surgery

EXPERT EYE CARE: “The advances in ophthalmology are amazing, The spread of inventions and the technology continue all the time. There are so many new ways we can treat eye diseases today and help people improve their vision.” Dr. Anita I. Miedziak is Director of Cornea and Contact Lens Services at the Princeton Eye Group.

If indeed, the eyes are the “window of the soul,” Dr. Anita I. Miedziak is doing all she can to keep that “window” as clear and unobstructed as possible.

A specialist in cornea, cataract, and LASIK surgery, she is a board-certified ophthalmologist as well as a fellowship-trained cornea and refractive surgery specialist.

After having earned her medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania, Dr. Miedziak continued ophthalmology training at Wills Eye Hospital of Thomas Jefferson Medical College and subspecialty training in cornea and refractive surgery at both Wells Eye Hospital and Johns Hopkins University’s Wilmer Institute. She has also studied LASIK at the Barraquer Institute in Colombia. In 1999, Dr. Miedziak joined the Princeton Eye Group.

Her medical journey began well before her arrival in Princeton and her study at these prestigious universities and training centers. Born and reared in Poland, she began her medical studies at the Medical School of Lublin, where she spent five years taking pre-med and basic science courses.

Tour Guide

She had the opportunity to visit the United States in 1986, upon invitation from her friends at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania, whom she had originally met when she was a student tour guide in Poland. “In the 1980s, Lock Haven University offered a semester abroad to students studying economics and political science so they could experience socialism in Poland first hand,“ recalls Dr. Miedziak.

“I spent the summer of 1986 in the U.S., and during this time, I was in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I stayed with friends in Kingston for a month, and I had an opportunity to volunteer at Princeton Hospital, which was so different from Polish hospitals. One day, a friend asked me to fill in as a baby sitter, and it happened to be for the child of the New Jersey Health Commissioner, who together with his wife, became wonderful friends and advisers. These experiences and knowing these people made me want to study medicine in America.”

By 1989, after passing the TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language) and National Medical Boards, she was able to transfer to the Medical College of Pennsylvania. This was an important time in many ways, points out Dr. Miedziak. “1989 was a pivotal year. Thanks to the Polish Solidarity movement, the Berlin Wall was coming down, and so much was happening in the world. For the first time in the Medical College of Pennsylvania’s history, students from Eastern Europe were allowed to transfer and study within its walls. I knew medicine was my calling, and I knew I wanted to be a surgeon, but I didn’t know in what specialty yet.”

Before graduation in 1993, she investigated possibilities with the head of the University’s surgical department, and determined that ophthalmology was the right choice for her.

Detailed Work

“In fact, my uncle was an ophthalmologist, and many of my family members were involved in very detailed work that required careful precision. In ophthalmology, you need to have an affinity for microscopic surgery.”

Dr. Miedziak’s arrival at Princeton Eye Group in 1999 was partly through the efforts of Dr. R. David Reynolds, she explains. “I met him when he was a resident at the Wills Eye Center, and he was an instructor there. He was — and is — an oculoplastics specialist at the Princeton Eye Group, and he became my mentor. And, I truly knew that the Princeton Eye Group was a perfect fit for me when I learned that the founder of the group, Dr. Stephen Felton, was born in Lublin, my home town.”

Currently, Dr. Miedziak focuses on LASIK, cataract, and cornea surgery. She has two decades of operating room experience, including thousands of procedures. Her work specializes in treating and rebuilding the front part of the eye. She commonly performs corneal transplantation, iris reconstruction, primary and secondary lens implantation as well as LASIK and other refractive laser procedures.

Dr. Miedziak is an expert and a pioneer in a recently FDA-approved, revolutionary new procedure known as cornea collagen cross-linking, a breakthrough non-surgical procedure for conditions known as keratoconus and corneal ectasia.

As she explains, “Collagen cross-linking is a treatment that utilizes ultra violet (UV) light and vitamin B12 (riboflavin) to strengthen collagen in the human cornea. The aim of the treatment is to arrest the progression of these conditions in an attempt to prevent profound loss of vision or the need for reconstructive surgery such as a corneal transplantation. In keratoconus, the cornea progressively stretches, resulting in deteriorating vision which cannot be corrected with glasses and usually requires correction with custom hard contact lenses or surgery.

“The procedure works by exposing the cornea to a specific wave length of UV light, following the application of vitamin B-12 eye drops. The light interacts with the vitamin B-12 and cornea collagen fibrils, making it stronger and less flexible.”

Out-Patient Facility

This treatment is performed to preserve vision and prevent future need for a corneal transplant, and is much less invasive, points out Dr. Miedziak. “It is done in an out-patient facility, and there is no cutting, no knife. It is blade-free. It takes an hour and a half, and the patient is awake and very comfortable. Recovery time is usually a week to 10 days, with physical activity restrictions for a month. Afterward, the patient can go back to wearing glasses. It has been proven successful in arresting keratoconus in 90 to 95 percent of cases.”

Collagen cross-linking has been performed in Europe since 1998, and has been a standard of care for keratoconus and corneal ectasia in both Europe and Canada for a decade. In 2011, the U.S. began FDA collagen cross-linking trials. Dr. Miedziak was one of only two surgeons in New Jersey to participate in the trials, which led to FDA approval in 2016.

“This is one of the true breakthroughs, a very well-researched, safe procedure, which simplifies how we treat a very serious cornea condition,” reports Dr. Miedziak. “Over the next few decades this procedure alone will make cornea transplants for keratonconus obsolete and improve the quality of life for millions of people worldwide.

“Cornea cross-linking can stop the progression of the disease, and it preserves your own tissue. Corneal transplant, which is an organ transplant, introduces someone else’s tissue, increasing a life-long risk of rejection and other serious complications. Since this disease often begins in the teens or early 20s, prompt treatment can make a drastic difference in a person’s life.

The FDA-approved procedure is now performed at 80 centers across the U.S., and Dr. Miedziak is one of only two surgeons to perform it in New Jersey.

She continues to be amazed at the advances in ophthalmology. “Every six months to a year, something new is introduced that can potentially be very helpful. Just think of the advances in cataract procedures. Years ago, after the surgery, people had to spend three weeks in the hospital, lying on their back with sandbags immobilizing their heads so their retina would not detach since their lenses (cataracts) were removed and not replaced. That is why they needed very thick glasses after the surgery. The intra-ocular lens implants were not widely accepted until the late 1960s. Now, many intra-ocular lens choices are available for patients, and recovery time is very quick.”

Patient Interaction

In addition to her work at the Princeton Eye Group and Wills Vision Center, Dr. Miedziak is an attending physician at both the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro and the Cornea Department of Wills Hospital. A sought-after lecturer, she is fluent in English, Polish, and Russian, and is also the author of many articles and publications.

Dr. Miedziak enjoys her practice because of its variety and the interaction with patients, she says. “It is not just one thing. Every patient is different, regarding both personalities and eyes, so the treatment needs to be different as well. I want to help people keep and improve their vision, and I am so glad when their vision improves, and they can do more than before or regain their independence. It’s very individual. I don’t think in terms of 20-20, but 20-happy! Everyone has different needs.

“I have two daughters, and I tell them that I don’t care what career they pursue. I just want them to be productive members of society.

“Personally I have been very fortunate,” she continues. “People I’ve met along the way have made such a difference in my life. Most of them, I’ve met randomly, a chance encounter. Four or five chance events changed my life. People who showed interest in me and my possibilities. They told me the sky’s the limit! And assured me that I should never think that I wouldn’t be able to achieve what I dreamed of. The opportunities presented themselves. It took hard work and drive, but I met them.

“And, today, I come to work with a smile on my face!”

For more information or to contact Dr. Miedziak, call the Princeton Eye Group at (609) 921-9437. Website: