A Whole New World

Cataract surgery leads to crisper, clearer vision.

Lynda Lovell can attest to the fact that, unlike wine, whiskey and some allergies, eyesight does not get better with age. As Lynda drew closer and closer to retirement a few years back, she noticed her vision was growing progressively worse.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Lynda Lovell

“My vision just became very, very poor,” Lynda relates. “I could no longer see things as far off in the distance as I once did, and it was getting harder and harder for me to read numbers or any fine print. The words and numbers would just kind of blur together.”
Lynda first attacked the problem by doing the same thing anyone else with fading vision would do. She visited an optometrist. Later, after the new eyeglass prescription she was given failed to solve the problem, she visited another.
Finally, after the second optometrist prescribed yet another set of new prescription lenses that also failed to significantly improve her vision, Lynda decided to see if there was anything the doctors at Pasadena Eye Center could do for her.
“I pass by their office all the time when I’m driving, and I happened to have a good friend who had been to see them as well,” Lynda explains. “My friend said she really liked Dr. David Hall, so I decided to make an appointment with him.”
David Hall, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist, quickly found the root cause of Lynda’s ever-deteriorating vision. Unfortunately for Lynda, the problem was no longer one that could be solved by simply prescribing a stronger set of eyeglasses.
“She had cataracts,” Dr. Hall reveals, “and sometimes, in the early stages of cataract development, in addition to the lens getting cloudy, the way the lens focuses also changes. That’s why a simple change in eyeglass prescription can sometimes be helpful.
“But that change will only let you get by for a little while. There’s a limit to how far you can go making those changes because eventually the vision just gets too cloudy. That’s where Lynda was when I first checked her vision.”
Dr. Hall’s initial examination of Lynda’s eyes included a test to determine whether she was suffering from macular degeneration, a retinal disease that can also cause blurred vision, particularly in people over 50, as well as a test for glaucoma.
The ophthalmologist found no evidence of either of those two issues, but in addition to learning that Lynda’s distance vision was measuring at 20/100 on a scale in which 20/20 is clear and crisp and 20/400 is the worst, he discovered she also had a lot of astigmatism in her right eye.
An astigmatism is a flaw in the curvature of the cornea or eye’s lens, both of which are normally smooth and evenly curved on all sides. The flaw can cause vision to be distorted because it prohibits light rays from being focused sharply onto the retina.
In the case of someone such as Lynda, who needed to have her cataracts removed and did not want to have to wear glasses for distance vision following the surgery, the astigmatism creates an added challenge for ophthalmologists such as Dr. Hall.
It is necessary, following the removal of a cataract, to have a new intraocular lens (IOL) implanted in the eye. For patients with an astigmatism, however, a special intraocular lens is needed if the patient is to avoid wearing glasses following the procedure.
“A patient like Lynda, who has a lot of astigmatism, could get the regular implant lens, but then she would still need to wear glasses to correct the astigmatism,” Dr. Hall educates. “For patients like that, we have the toric implant lens.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

The ability to see clearly again has
brought a smile back to Lynda’s face.

“The toric lens has a prescription ground into it that is just right for her amount of astigmatism. She got that lens for her right eye and because she didn’t have any astigmatism in her left eye, she got the more routine spherical implant lens for that eye.”
Lynda had the cataract removal and lens implant surgery done on her left eye first. She waited two weeks before having the same procedure done on her right eye. It was during her brief wait that she realized how beneficial the surgery would be for her.
“I was astonished at how well I was seeing, and that was after having just the left eye done,” Lynda recalls enthusiastically. “I was still wearing glasses for my distance vision, but they had replaced the corrective left lens with a regular lens.
“Even with that, I was already seeing things a lot clearer and crisper, including when I would read or look at something up close. Then I had the other eye done, and I just loved it. I remember walking around for a month or two just smiling all the time.”

Symfony® of Sight

As a hairstylist, Debra Jefferis has a keen eye for the latest trends in hair, from cuts to color and everything in between. Recently, however, Debra’s eyesight began to interfere with her ability to perform her job as meticulously as she had previously.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Debra can see clearly when cutting her clients’ hair.

“I never screwed up anyone’s hair,” Debra says with a laugh. “But I did cut myself with the scissors instead of cutting the hair a few times. I also had a hard time reading directions on some products.
“I found myself having to stop and refocus much more than I ever had before. Everything seemed blurry or fuzzy all the time,” she describes. “I would hold a label far away from me to read the words.
“But it wasn’t only at work where I was having a problem. I eventually had to stop driving at night because the glare from oncoming headlights was almost blinding to me. It was just too bright.
“I’ve worn glasses for many years, and at first I figured I just needed a stronger prescription. When I finally went to my ophthalmologist, I was told there was no longer anything they could do as far as changing my eyeglass prescription.
“They told me years earlier that I had cataracts forming, and they had finally reached the point where they said I needed to have surgery to have the cataracts removed. That’s when I was referred to Pasadena Eye Center.”

Informed Patients

When cataracts develop, it becomes increasingly difficult to read, especially in low-light situations. In addition, people describe a variety of symptoms, including the need for frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions and a loss in the vibrancy of colors.
“Debra complained to me of some of the typical symptoms of advanced cataracts,” explains Nathan R. Emery, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist at Pasadena Eye Center. “She was getting the traditional halos and starbursts and glare from headlights at nighttime while driving.
“After examining her eyes, I determined that she did have advanced cataracts and required surgery.”

“Colors are absolutely amazing to me now.” – Debra

Cataract surgery generally takes less than 15 minutes to perform, including preparation and post-op observation, assures Dr. Emery. The stay at the surgery center is about 90 minutes. A patient’s vision, he notes, may be blurry for the first few days following the surgery, but it usually gets much better after a few weeks.
“I was nervous about the surgery,” Debra shares. “In fact, I chickened out twice before at different offices before even going to see Dr. Emery. But, he made me feel comfortable because he explained everything to me and made me a part of the decision-making process. I just needed to find the right surgeon, which I did with Dr. Emery.
“He explained everything he was going to do and gave me information to take home and read, so I was well-informed about the procedure beforehand. The information they shared is top-notch.”

An Educated Decision

Dr. Emery considers it important for patients to be well-informed because at all levels of the cataract-removal procedure, they have a hand in the
decision-making process.
“Based on the health of the eye and factors determined in the exam, we discuss lens and surgical options with the patient and decide which lenses to use,” he explains. “We have many options to choose from that will suit the needs and long-term goals of the individual.”
Together, Debra and Dr. Emery decided that the cloudy lens caused by the cataract would be replaced with the leading-edge Symfony IOL, which best suited her lifestyle and needs.
“As a hairstylist, Debra sees a lot of things at arm’s length or closer,” Dr. Emery notes. “She wanted a lens to provide her better vision for those two distances – midrange and up close. The Symfony is an extended-range lens providing patients with improved intermediate and up-close vision without the dependence of glasses.
“Debra wanted a solution that would not only take care of the cataracts, but result in her not having to wear glasses anymore. The Symfony lens does that because it helps vision at multiple distances, but it’s very different from other multifocal lenses.
“The way the lens is designed, the optics of it allow just about everything to be in focus. It’s very good for somebody who has very healthy eyes, aside from cataracts, and doesn’t want to wear glasses anymore, which was the case with Debra.
“In the past, multifocal lenses provided a distance point that was in focus and a near point that was in focus. The optics with the Symfony are more like a range of vision. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at an object up close at ten inches away or at a computer screen eighteen inches away, all of those distances are in good focus.”
The Symfony lens, which also comes in a version that corrects astigmatism, utilizes new technology called extended depth of focus. One of its advantages is how it provides intermediate vision for tasks such as reading a grocery shelf label or working at a computer.

“I even recommended them to my mother. The staff there is professional and very friendly.” – Lynda

“The ideal patient is someone like Debra who tends to focus their eyesight on a particular object throughout the day,” Dr. Emery describes. “In Debra’s case, being a hairstylist, she reads a lot of directions for products and has to be precise in what she does. This lens is very good for providing distance vision as well as midrange vision without some of the downfalls we see in other multifocal lenses.”

Seeing Is Believing

Debra says that since she had her cataracts removed and the Symfony lenses implanted, she has become much more precise in her work as a stylist. She adds that she now sees many things with a newfound appreciation.
“Colors are absolutely amazing to me now,” Debra says. “It really is eye-opening to think of how I once saw a color and thought it looked normal. Now, I see bright, beautiful color. I describe the difference in comparing a bright LED light bulb to an old, yellow, dingy bulb. The brightness is amazing.”
Like Debra, Lynda can hardly believe the results of her surgery. She describes her distance vision as being “perfect” now, and adds that it’s all due to the care she received from Dr. Hall and the staff at Pasadena Eye Center.
“I’ve recommended them to several friends,” Lynda explains. “I even recommended them to my mother. The staff there is professional and very friendly. It’s a nice, well-run office, and I didn’t feel nervous at all.”
Debra concurs, adding that as far as she’s concerned, the staff is second to none.
“The entire staff is kind and caring,” she raves. “You aren’t just a number; you’re treated like a person. I’m a breast cancer survivor, so I know the difference between being treated like a number and being treated like a human, and at Pasadena Eye Center, they treat you with dignity.”

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    • Pasadena Eye Center

      The doctors and staff of Pasadena Eye Center are dedicated to providing you with the highest quality eye care, and they offer the latest advancements in ophthalmology.... Read More

    • David E. Hall, MD

      David E. Hall, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. He graduated from the University of Mississippi and received his medical degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. He completed his internship at Erlanger Hospital and... Read More

    • Nathan R. Emery, MD

      Nathan R. Emery, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. He completed his undergraduate studies at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, before serving a two-year mission in England. Upon his return to the United States, he completed his medi... Read More

    • Dennis C. Ryczek, OD

      Dennis C. Ryczek, OD, is a Florida-certified optometrist. He attended St. Petersburg Junior College and the University of South Florida. He graduated summa cum laude with a doctorate in optometry from the University of Houston, TX, and c... Read More