“Dr. Kostick gave Me My Life back”

Cataract surgery results in clearer vision, healthier outlook on life.

Thelma Wagonhoffer’s vision had been fading for years, but it wasn’t until one day late last year when the 82-year-old retired nurse went grocery shopping with her daughter Kim that she began to understand just how serious the issue had become.

Thelma Wagonhoffer had cataract surgery performed by Dr. Kostick, and it proved to be a life-changing event.

Since having cataract surgery, Thelma (left) has become more active and engaged, says daughter Kim.

“The first thing I noticed that day was just how light sensitive my mom had become,” Kim remembers. “We walked into the grocery store, and my mom immediately had to shade her eyes from the bright lights. I found that a bit odd.

“Then we were at the checkout counter. I was at one end and my mother was at the other putting the groceries on the belt, and I had to wave my arms drastically for her to know that it was me at the other end. She just couldn’t see me.”

The experience in the grocery story prompted Kim to begin asking Thelma questions about her eyesight. That’s when she learned that Thelma had all but given up reading, which had been her favorite pastime, because it had become too difficult for her to see the type.

“I used to read just about anything,” Thelma offers. “I’d read books, magazines. But the type became too hard to read, and I really didn’t want to just look at pictures in the magazines, so I lost interest. I didn’t even want to get the newspaper anymore.”

Thelma’s sudden lack of interest in reading wasn’t the worst of her problems. Because she could no longer see well enough to feel safe, she had also begun to seclude herself from friends and neighbors, only leaving the house when she had to.

“That’s when I realized that this was a big issue and that we needed to do something about it,” Kim explains. “The first thing I did was try to get her to go to see an eye doctor, but we wound up going to her primary care physician first.”

Thelma’s visit to her primary care physician was for an annual checkup. During that checkup, the doctor was informed of the problems Thelma was having with her eyesight. He responded by recommending Thelma see Alexandra Kostick, MD, at Atlantic Eye Center.

“Horrible” Vision

“I first saw Thelma in April of this year, and the first thing she told me was that her vision was horrible,” reports Dr. Kostick, a board-certified ophthalmologist. “She said she could not see very well with either eye, and that was true – her vision was extremely poor.

“With the right eye, I asked her, How many fingers am I holding up? And with the left, her vision was 20/80. She was almost legally blind. When I examined her further, I diagnosed her as having advanced cataracts in both eyes.”

Cataracts develop naturally in about 90 percent of all people 65 or older, usually from a breakdown of the eye’s lens fibers, a clumping of the eye’s proteins, or both. They typically cause blurred vision, an increase in sensitivity to light and a reduction in color vibrancy.

Though cataracts usually develop slowly, they can be corrected quickly and easily through an outpatient procedure in which the natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens, or IOL.

After examining Thelma, Dr. Kostick immediately scheduled her for cataract surgery. Thelma’s cataracts were so dense, however, that Dr. Kostick had to dig deep into her tool kit to find something to calculate the power of the replacement lens Thelma needed.

“The laser that we usually use to calculate the lens implants wouldn’t even penetrate the cataracts – that’s how dense they were,” Dr. Kostick informs. “What we wound up using to pick the power of the implant then was a machine called the ORA™.”

The ORA, or Optiwave Refractive Analysis System, is a diagnostic device that allows eye surgeons to obtain accurate measurements of the shape of the eye while performing procedures such as cataract surgery after the cataract has been removed.

“The ORA is one of the most important tools we have, and it was really beneficial in this case because we could not get an accurate lens calculation preoperatively,” Dr. Kostick notes. “Without the ORA, it would have been hit or miss as far as the implant goes.”

By using the ORA, Dr. Kostick was able to fit Thelma with implant lenses that restored her distance vision to 20/25. As she has for years, Thelma continues to use reading glasses for up-close vision, but even that has improved markedly, she says.

“I noticed an amazing difference right away after the surgery,” Thelma confirms. “On the drive home that day, I could see trees clearly and read street signs. I couldn’t believe what a difference the surgery made. Dr. Kostick gave me my life back.”

In a way she did. In addition to improving her vision, the surgery vastly improved Thelma’s outlook on life as well. Kim reports that since having the cataract surgery, Thelma is far more outgoing than she had been and more upbeat.

“She’s back to doing a lot of the activities she was doing before her eyesight started to fade,” Kim adds. “She’s going out more and seeing people again. She’s reading and watching TV and is just a lot more engaged.”

Dr. Kostick has noticed the change as well. She says the Thelma she now sees for routine follow-ups to her surgery is a totally different person than the one she first encountered several months ago.

“It’s been an incredible change for her,” Dr. Kostick relates. “Her whole demeanor has changed. When I first met her, I could see she was depressed because of her vision. But now she comes in with a big smile on her face and is extremely happy.”

Family-Like Atmosphere

One of the things Thelma is most happy about is the care she received from Dr. Kostick and her staff. As a former nurse, she said she was most impressed with their professionalism and how they treated her more like a family member than a patient.

“I couldn’t believe what a difference the surgery made. Dr. Kostick gave me my life back.” – Thelma

Of course, a family-like atmosphere is a big part of what Dr. Kostick strives for at Atlantic Eye Center. She is proud to be treating the sons, daughters and grandchildren of patients she has been treating for years.

“Our patients become part of our extended family,” Dr. Kostick asserts. “We strive to make them comfortable by creating a very caring environment. They know they are going to be treated with a personal touch whenever they come here.”

A strong reputation in the community is also something the staff at Atlantic Eye Center strives to maintain.

“I think word of mouth is very important for doctors, and we pride ourselves on the referrals we get,” Dr. Kostick adds. “I can honestly say that my staff go out of their way to ensure that people are cared for to our utmost capability.”

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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