Crossing the Finish Line

A Palm Coast racing enthusiast sees clearly after eyelid surgery.

Brent Cole has a passion for motorcycles and fast cars. At 67, the retiree races his vintage 1971 Triumph Spitfire at tracks all over the country including Sebring, Indianapolis, Road America in Wisconsin and Watkins Glen in New York.

Brent Cole had blepharoplasty to remove excess skin from his eyelids at Atlantic Eye Center in Palm Coast.

Brent races his
vintage 1971 Triumph Spitfire at tracks across the country.

“Vintage racing is a hobby I picked up about fifteen years ago,” Brent shares. “It is definitely something that was on my bucket list.”

To be successful behind the wheel, drivers need good vision to be the first car to reach the checkered flag. So, when Brent’s peripheral vision began to deteriorate, he had a feeling he knew the reason. “I developed baggy, droopy eyelids,” he shares. “They started to get really heavy within the last year. I wasn’t able to see around me clearly like I used to because my peripheral vision was off, and I looked tired when I wasn’t. My eyelids felt heavy all the time. It was hard to keep my eyes open.”

Brent’s wife of 14 years, Jane, recommended he see Alexandra Kostick, MD, at Atlantic Eye Center.

Baggy Eyelids

Eyelid bagginess afflicts both men and women, and although it is often hereditary, it typically becomes more pronounced with age. As the transition takes place, eyelids can change in ways that make people look tired, to the point where they almost feel tired as a result. Others may actually begin to appear sad or angry.

“Many times, people don’t realize how important proper eyelid location and function are to overall vision,” explains Dr. Kostick. “Excess skin on the upper eyelids can obstruct a patient’s field of view, interfering with peripheral vision. If a patient looks in the mirror and sees the skin on the upper eyelids approaching his or her eyelashes, that may well represent a loss of the visual field.”

According to Dr. Kostick, folds and bags of excess skin form when the connective tissue of the upper eyelids is no longer able to hold the protective layer of fat in place around the eye, allowing the tissue to bulge forward. As it loses its tone and elasticity, the excess skin of the upper eyelids protrudes into the visual field.

“It can happen with the lower eyelids as well so it usually comes on with age and more commonly affects the elderly,” she explains. “People can begin to develop this as early as forty years of age, and it will gradually progress and get worse as they get older. And, it can also be hereditary.”

Blepharoplasty Basics

Dr. Kostick says that patients, like Brent, undergo testing first to be sure that a surgical procedure is necessary.

“We test for excess skin by performing what is called a visual field test,” says Dr. Kostick. “Peripheral vision is first checked with the eyelid in its natural position. Next, the eyelid is taped up and the vision is rechecked. If there is a difference of twelve degrees or more between the two tests, it is considered a functional problem.”

Dr. Kostick says the results of Brent’s peripheral field test revealed exactly what Brent suspected: a large degree of peripheral vision loss.

“In order to repair his loss of vision, I recommended blepharoplasty, a procedure performed to remove the excess skin on the eyelids,” Dr. Kostick informs. “Blepharoplasty is a relatively easy procedure. The surgery is done as an outpatient under local anesthetics. During the surgery, an incision is made in the upper lid crease, and through that incision, the extra skin and muscle are removed. Then, sutures are placed along the incision.” 

Any scarring is normally present along the lid crease, she adds, so when the eyes are open, the scar is tucked away into the normal fold of the lid crease. After about a month, it completely fades away.

Following surgery, Dr. Kostick explains, patients are asked to apply ice frequently during the first week to reduce any swelling or bruising. Sutures are removed between seven and ten days following surgery.Brent Cole had blepharoplasty to remove excess skin from his eyelids at Atlantic Eye Center in Palm Coast.

“Brent did very well with the procedure, and we are very pleased with his results,” Dr. Kostick says.

Patient Commitment

Dr. Kostick says her staff maintains a commitment to patients and patient retention.

“I have patients who have seen me for years, and now I have seen their kids and even their grandkids at times,” she says. “It is a family unit in the office, and we extend that feeling to the patient. We don’t just take care of one patient; we take care of entire families.

“Many of our patients come to us through word of mouth and that, I think, is an indication of our status in the community of being a respectable practice.

“We’re eye care specialists who truly care about the well-being of our patients,” emphasizes Dr. Kostick. “Each patient is unique and we know that. We treat each one as an individual and with a personalized approach. We don’t put patients on a conveyor belt and push them through the clinic. We take the time to talk to them and recognize their wants and needs. We are very compassionate about the care we administer as a team.”

Brent says Dr. Kostick and her staff made him feel relaxed and at ease.

“Dr. Kostick was forthcoming with information, very knowledgeable and made me feel comfortable about the impending procedure,” Brent says. “I’m really glad I took my wife’s advice and went to see her.”

Brent says to compare his eyesight before surgery and now is like night and day.

“It’s truly amazing,” he asserts. “My peripheral vision is back to where it was before I developed heavy eyelids. I see more clearly than ever, especially when I am behind the wheel.

“It’s a miracle!”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photo by Nerissa Johnson. Graphic from istockphoto.com.
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    • Atlantic Eye Center

      Flagler County’s leading female board-certified ophthalmologist, serving the county since 1996, is at Atlantic Eye Center. Benefits the center offers you include: A multi-trained and highly regarded doctor Unparalleled eye care experien... Read More

    • Alexandra Kostick, MD, FACS, FRCSC

      Alexandra Kostick, MD, FACS, FRCSC, is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. After earning her medical degree at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Dr. Kostick served a mixed surgery internship at St. Boniface Hospital at... Read More