Virginia Gov. Charles S. Robb, long troubled by cataracts that have sharply limited his vision, is scheduled to undergo surgery on one of his eyes Tuesday, state government sources said today.
The sources said the surgery is to be performed at 7:30 a.m. at the Medical College of Virginia in downtown Richmond by Dr. Robert S. Weinberg, the teaching hospital's chief ophthalmologist.
Weinberg will extract the cataract-clouded lens from one of Robb's eyes -- it was unclear which one -- and implant a plastic lens, a procedure called an intraocular implant. The governor is expected to regain most if not all of his sight in the eye, the sources said.
Robb, 46, will be allowed to go home later in the day. Surgery on his other eye is to be scheduled later.
The sources said the recuperation period is minimal, but Robb will have to limit extreme physical activity for an undetermined period of time.
Robb's office, which did not release a normally routine press schedule this week, declined to confirm that the operation will be performed.
"The governor has no public appointments Tuesday . The governor has asked that we leave it at that," said David A. McCloud, Robb's chief of staff.
Officials indicated privately Robb wanted to avoid a "media circus" over the event, which has been expected for some time.
The sources said Robb is being treated under an alias, Johnny Allspice, which Robb has used during previous hospitalizations, as when he enters a hospital for a physical examination.
Robb, who frequently has joked that he is both "blind and vain," has only in the last year begun to wear glasses in public to relieve his eye problems. In public appearances, he requires podiums that reach his chest level in order to read speeches or notes.
He is an avid golfer, and has had to enlist security aides, one of whom always travels with him, to help follow the path of the ball. Robb said recently that to line up putts on the green he must leave the flag in the hole.
At a recent reception for one of his departing staffers, Robb extended his arm and said he couldn't see much farther than that.
Robb has said his mother underwent eye surgery for cataracts when she was in her teens, years before the implant operation had been devised. The procedure used in that day is considered much more dangerous than the one the governor is scheduled to undergo.
Robb had put off the surgery because of a hectic schedule over the last few months, including preparing the state's next two-year budget as well as campaigning in the state's recent elections.