Eye-Opening Treatment

Leading-edge technology erases effects of glaucoma, cataracts.

Disco is not dead.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Patricia Constantino

The ’70s music genre plays on every morning inside the home of Patricia Constantino, a former computer technician who put her tech savvy to work a couple years ago making disco a part of her daily workout routine.

“Because I was a computer technician, I knew how to create a disc with music that was in sync with all the steps on my favorite exercise video,” Patricia explains. “Now when I work out, I turn the sound down on the video and dance away to the music.

Patricia’s exercise routine has paid some nice dividends. Though she will soon celebrate her 80th birthday, this one-time Maryland resident who moved to Florida about seven years ago says she neither feels nor looks her age.

“I’m really young for my age,” Patricia exudes. “I think part of it is because I do my dance routine every morning. For 40 minutes, I put on the CD I made and dance to the Bee Gees. Disco dancing. I love it. It’s fabulous.”

A former entrepreneur who once owned and operated a snow cone business, Patricia is now retired. And while she may not feel or look her age, she was recently forced to contend with a common byproduct of the natural aging process: cataracts.

Cataracts typically develop as a result of either a breakdown of the eye’s lens fibers, a clumping of the eye’s proteins, or both. They result in blurred vision, an increase in the eye’s sensitivity to light and/or a reduction in the vibrancy of colors.

Because cataracts tend to develop slowly, sufferers sometimes don’t notice the vision changes until long after the cataracts have matured. That’s how it was with Patricia, who also suffers from another common eye disorder: glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a condition in which an unusually high degree of pressure in the eye can cause damage to the nerve connecting the eye to the brain. Since arriving in Florida, Patricia has had her glaucoma managed by Regine Pappas, MD, of Pinnacle Eye Center.

First in Class

Now in its 20th year of existence, Pinnacle Eye Center offers an array of services. Using cutting-edge technology, the staff provides expert, compassionate and personalized care to all patients.

Pinnacle specializes in general ophthalmologic and cataract treatment as well as treating glaucoma. It was the first in the area and state to perform many of the most advanced glaucoma procedures available.

“For 20 years, I’ve been monitoring and treating glaucoma patients and preventing blindness by controlling their eye pressure,” Dr. Pappas says. “Whether it’s medical or surgical, I provide all kinds of options to make sure situations don’t get worse.”

“That’s our goal, and I’m happy to say that, for the most part, I’ve been successful in attaining it. Glaucoma is not curable, but it can be treated and controlled. That’s what we do here.
It was during a recent visit with Dr. Pappas that Patricia learned not only that her cataracts needed to be removed, but also about a procedure that can be done in conjunction with the surgery that helps patients better control glaucoma.

“I didn’t think I needed the cataract surgery, because I felt like I was seeing pretty well,” Patricia says. “But when I heard about this procedure for glaucoma I thought, that’s a plus, and I took it as a sign I should do this.”

The glaucoma procedure Dr. Pappas recommended calls for the implantation of a tiny device called the iStent inject® that is designed to increase the flow of fluid through the eye’s natural drainage channels, relieving pressure on the eye.

Smaller than a pinhead, the iStent inject is the most commonly used microinvasive glaucoma device. It is just one of several tools and treatments that Dr. Pappas, a fellowship glaucoma specialist, uses in her fight against glaucoma.

“Patricia has a mild form of glaucoma, meaning she requires one or two drops of medication per day to keep her eye pressure low,” Dr. Pappas says. “For someone like her, the iStent is a great option, because it can alleviate the need for eye drops.

“But there are many other options, as well. For someone with moderate glaucoma who requires two or three eye drops per day, the Hydrus® Microstent is slightly more effective at lowering pressure. And like the iStent, it can be implanted during cataract surgery.

“Another option is canaloplasty. That’s a minimally invasive glaucoma surgery where you actually put a catheter in the trabecular meshwork, and there’s a gel that is forced through it that opens up the drainage channels.”

The kind of catheter used to perform canaloplasty can also be used to perform another pressure lowering procedure known as a Gonioscopy-assisted transluminal trabeculotomy (GATT).

Dr. Pappas and the Pinnacle Eye Center were the first to perform and implement this state-of-the-art procedure in Florida and worked very closely with Medicare to get approval for Florida patients.

Dr. Pappas was also the first to bring the Xen® gel stent to Brevard County. It is inserted from inside the anterior chamber of the eye and through the wall of the eye to create an external bleb that lowers pressure.

Remarkable Results

The iStent inject implantation is a minimally invasive procedure that adds only a couple of minutes to the time required to perform cataract surgery. In Patricia’s case, which was typical of most, the two procedures were completed in less than 15 minutes.

Patricia’s surgery was performed by Dr. Alexandros Pappas, Dr. Regine Pappas’ son. In addition to fitting Patricia with the iStent inject, he replaced the clouded natural lenses in both eyes and replaced them with artificial intraocular lenses, or IOLs.

The result, Patricia exclaims, has been remarkable. The iStent inject has erased the need for eye drops to control her glaucoma, and her vision is now the best it’s been since she was a child.

“These two procedures have given me a new lease on life,” Patricia states. “It’s truly fantastic. I see everything more clearly, and colors are so much more vivid and vibrant than before. I didn’t know how bad my eyesight had become until I got the cataracts out.

“And as far as the medical procedure goes, it was probably the best medical experience I’ve ever had. And I’ve been through a few of them in my life. I really could not have asked for a better experience and outcome from the treatment.”

Print This Article
    • Pinnacle Eye Center

      Pinnacle Eye Center offers complete eye care services, including Cataract Surgery, Glaucoma Management & Surgery, Refractive Surgery (LASIK & PRK), as well as comprehensive & preventative eye care. Pinnacle Eye Center util... Read More

    • Regine Pappas, MD

      Regine Pappas, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist and eye surgeon and fellowship-trained glaucoma specialist. She earned her medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1989. She completed a residency program i... Read More

    • Alexandros Pappas, DO

      Alexandros Pappas, DO, is a board-eligible comprehensive ophthalmologist and eye surgeon. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville and medical degree from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lau... Read More

    • Jenifer J. Ramsower, OD,

      Jenifer J. Ramsower, OD, is a board-certified optometric physician and a diplomate of American Board of Optometry who received her doctorate degree with honors from Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry in Fort Lauderdale. She comp... Read More

    • J. Shea Eagerton Ehret, OD

      J. Shea Eagerton Ehret, OD, is a board-certified optometric physician who graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Troy State University in Alabama in 2000. She went on to earn her Doctor of Optometry degr... Read More