Eye-Opening Experience

Expert analysis reveals deep-seated condition.

Even in “retirement,” Virginia Paddock continues to work, especially during tax season. Once the office manager of a major carpet-cleaning franchise in Fairfield County, Connecticut, Virginia now helps prepare tax returns for AARP® members.

It wasn’t until she went to see Dr. Blandford at the Center for Advanced Eye Care that Virginia Paddock learned her eyelash problem was the result of skin cancer.

Virginia Paddock

The latter is something the 81-year-old picked up more or less as a hobby after she and her husband gave up their jobs in the Northeast and moved to Florida nearly 30 years ago in an effort to get the most out their retirement years.

“We wanted to retire while we were still young enough to enjoy ourselves, and we certainly have!” Virginia exclaims. “I still do the tax work because it keeps me busy and because I’ve always been something of a numbers person.”

Virginia’s ability to not only prepare taxes but to enjoy her retirement years the way she hoped she would became greatly compromised a few years ago when a painful issue developed with the eyelashes on her left lower eyelid.

“All of a sudden, the eyelashes on my left lower eyelid started turning backwards and into my eye,” Virginia confirms. “They were growing in such a way that they were literally scratching my eyeball. It was very painful.”

Virginia initially tried correcting the problem by simply plucking the troublesome eyelashes. When they continued to grow back the same way, she began visiting area ophthalmologists and optometrists who did the plucking for her.

“It got so bad this past summer that there was one month where I had to go four times to get these things pulled out,” Virginia reveals. “It was really annoying. Finally, a couple months ago, I told my optometrist, I’d really like to take care of this for good.

“It was during that visit that he said, You know, I met somebody last night who is an ophthalmologist and a plastic surgeon. And then he said that this ophthalmologist previously worked at the Cleveland Clinic and that he was working here now.

“Well, as soon as he said that he had previously worked at the Cleveland Clinic, I thought, Oh, whoopee! So, I got his name, looked him up and made an appointment to see if he could identify the cause of my eyelid problem.”

The physician Virginia’s optometrist met and later recommended is Alexander D. Blandford, MD. He is a board-certified ophthalmologist who completed an additional two-year accredited fellowship in oculofacial plastic surgery at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute and specializes in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery around the eyes and face.

In addition to performing upper eyelid (eyelid lift) and lower eyelid (lower bag removal) surgery, brow lifts, and nonsurgical skin treatments such as BOTOX® Cosmetic and dermal fillers, Dr. Blandford also specializes in skin cancer removal/reconstruction, orbital surgery, and tear drainage system surgery.

Critical Discovery

“Mrs. Paddock came to me for a second opinion regarding her lower eyelid and irritating eyelashes,” Dr. Blandford reports. “She was tired of having her eyelashes plucked over the last several years and was curious why she was suffering from this problem. Upon examination, I noticed a subtle lesion that looked suspicious for a skin cancer in the area of the misdirected lashes.

“Misdirected eyelashes can be something that you are born with or develop later in life. When they develop later in life it can be related to the eyelid itself turning in, an inflammatory process causing the lashes to point toward the eye, or less commonly the result of skin cancer.

“When there is a notch in the eyelid margin, loss of lashes in a certain area, or a growth in the area it is important to consider skin cancer as a possible cause. Mrs. Paddock’s exam revealed these subtle findings that were concerning for a skin cancer, so after a thorough discussion we elected to biopsy the eyelid in clinic. As suspected, the biopsy came back positive for a skin cancer, specifically a basal cell carcinoma.”

In the aftermath of Dr. Blandford’s discovery, Virginia made an appointment to have the cancer surgically removed. That surgery, which was performed by Dr. Blandford two weeks after Virginia’s initial visit, revealed that the skin cancer was quite extensive.

“When he got in there, he eventually found that the cancer involved almost the entire lower eyelid,” Virginia reveals. “The way he found that out was by taking a small piece at a time and having a pathologist review each piece very carefully.”

It wasn’t until she went to see Dr. Blandford at the Center for Advanced Eye Care that Virginia Paddock learned her eyelash problem was the result of skin cancer.

Virginia has finally found relief from her irritating eyelid disorder

In order to conservatively remove all of the skin cancer, three specimens were required and revealed that the skin cancer involved approximately 70% of her lower eyelid. Virginia says she had no pain during the procedure and Dr. Blandford and his staff kept her very comfortable the entire time.

“I was so happy that he had found the cancer and that he was working so hard to make sure he got all of it out,” Virginia states. “Doctors had been looking at that eye for four years, but none of them ever suspected cancer was the problem.”

“Dr. Blandford was the first one to say, Hey, what is this? And he found it the very first time he looked at it. And then he was so persistent about making sure he got it all, and the procedure wasn’t painful at all. I was awake the whole time and never felt a thing.”

“Marvelous” Work

Dr. Blandford completed his work by rebuilding Virginia’s lower eyelid. He performed a rotational flap in which tissue was recruited from nearby to reconstruct the lower eyelid and ensure the eyelid maintained its function of protecting Virginia’s eye. “He was able to put it back together without doing anything drastic, and you can’t even tell that anything was ever done,” Virginia exudes. “I had a friend of mine ask me just the other day, What eye was it that you had the problem with?

“Dr. Blandford really did a marvelous job. I don’t have a problem with those eyelashes anymore because those eyelashes are all gone. But you can’t even tell, really. That’s how good a job he did. And most importantly the cancer is all gone.

“I’m so glad that I was told to go see Dr. Blandford. He’s a great doctor, and he’s very kind and caring in the way he treats his patients. If anyone has a problem like mine, I recommend they go see Dr. Blandford. He’s the best there is!”

Print This Article
    • Center For Advanced Eye Care

      The caring staff at Center for Advanced Eye Care welcome your questions regarding ophthalmology and ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery. To schedule an appointment, please contact Center for Advanced Eye Care, located at 3500 US Hwy... Read More

    • William J. Mallon, MD

      William J. Mallon, MD, is board certified by the prestigious American Board of Ophthalmology. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University, East Lansing, he was awarded his medical degree from Wayne State Uni... Read More

    • Adam M. Katz, MD

      Adam M. Katz, MD, is board certified by the prestigious American Board of Ophthalmology. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Union College in New York, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, he was awarded his medical degr... Read More

    • J. Michael Schnell, MD

      J. Michael Schnell, MD, is board certified by the prestigious American Board of Ophthalmology. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Dickinson College and a Master’s degree in counseling from Colgate University, Dr. Schnell was awa... Read More

    • Sarah S. Khodadadeh, MD

      Sarah S. Khodadadeh, MD, is board certified by the prestigious American Board of Ophthalmology. She received her undergraduate degree in microbiology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and her Master of Science and medical degre... Read More

    • Edward S. Branigan III, MD

      Edward S. Branigan III, MD, is board certified by the prestigious American Board of Ophthalmology. He received his undergraduate degree from Syracuse University, and then graduated from Downstate Medical Center. Following an internal medi... Read More

    • Alexander D. Blandford, MD

      Alexander D. Blandford, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist with a focus in oculofacial plastic and reconstructive surgery. Dr. Blandford completed a two-year fellowship approved by the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstru... Read More