For Good Measure
Photo courtesy of James Plesz.

James Plesz

Astigmatism corrected, vision cleared via cataract surgery.

The grandson of Polish immigrants who first found work in the US building Pullman train cars at that company’s “workers’ community” on the South Side of Chicago, James Plesz eventually made his own way in the Windy City area as an electrician.

“I actually worked out of the Gary, Indiana local, but I worked in Chicago for eighteen of the forty-two years I was an electrician,” James says. “I worked on some of the smaller skyscrapers in Chicago as well as a lot of the steel mills.”

Now 74, James has long since retired, but he still has ties to Chicago. He owns land in the area and spends the warmer months there. He and his wife spend the fall and winter here in Florida, where golf, fishing and football fill his days.

This past fall, while watching a football game at home, James suddenly noticed he was having trouble with his eyesight. In particular, he found it difficult to read the scores of other games as they ran across the bottom of the TV screen.

“It was driving me crazy, so I went to the place in the mall where I get my eyeglasses and got an eyeglass exam,” James remembers. “That’s when I was told I had cataracts and that the one in my right eye was worse than the one in my left eye.

“They told me my vision was probably going to deteriorate pretty rapidly, and it did. We don’t go out that much at night, but it got to a point rather quickly where I didn’t feel comfortable driving at night because I couldn’t see clearly.”

James is no stranger to cataracts. A clouding of the eye’s natural lens that develops from a breakdown of the eye’s lens fibers or a clumping of their proteins, cataracts had recently robbed his wife of her clear vision as well.

“I feel like I was lucky that my wife had already gone through this because when I learned I had cataracts, I knew exactly where to go,” James says. “I immediately went to see Dr. Kostick at Atlantic Eye Center because she did such a good job with my wife.”

Dr. Kostick is board-certified ophthalmologist Alexandra Kostick, MD. With more than 20 years of experience treating complex cataract cases, Dr. Kostick is recognized throughout the ophthalmologic field as one of its most accomplished surgeons.

Cause and Effect

Dr. Kostick began treating James in November 2019, and during her first visit with him, she confirmed the diagnosis of cataracts. She also discovered in James’ eyes what she referred to as a “significant astigmatism.”

Astigmatism is a common eye condition in which an irregularly shaped cornea – that clear front cover of the eye – causes blurred vision. Astigmatism can sometimes be corrected during cataract surgery, but James’ astigmatism was so severe, it required special attention.

“The ability to see at the age of seventy-four the way you did when you were in your twenties is phenomenal . . .” James

“For patients such as James, we do extra measurements to see how much astigmatism they really have,” Dr. Kostick says. “If it’s minimal, we don’t have to worry about treating it. If it’s moderate to severe, then there are a couple of different ways we can treat it.

“And it’s very important that we do treat it, because a lot of people think their cataracts are the only things responsible for their blurry vision. They don’t understand that there are other structures of the eye that can cause blurry vision as well.

“Whatever astigmatism is there before cataract surgery will be there after surgery if it’s not treated. And that residual astigmatism will cause blurry vision, which will then require the person to continue wearing glasses. We don’t want that.”

One astigmatism treatment calls for a series of small incisions to be made around the edge of the cornea. These incisions relax and round out the cornea, which improves focus, but they typically work best for patients with mild to moderate astigmatism.

For James, Dr. Kostick chose to replace his clouded natural lenses during surgery with toric lenses. Toric lenses are specially designed artificial intraocular lenses, or IOLs, that have two focusing powers, one for distance vision and one for the astigmatism.

They are implanted during the same surgery where the cataracts are removed, which is usually performed on one eye at a time in an outpatient setting, with a break of a week or two between the two surgeries to allow the first eye to heal.

During James’ surgery, Dr. Kostick also used a special machine called the ORA™, which stands for Optiwave Refractive Analysis, to obtain the most accurate measurements possible of the shape of his eyes during the surgery.

“The ORA fine-tunes the power, and therefore narrows down the selection of the intraocular lens implant,” Dr. Kostick notes. “There’s no way our pre-op measurements can compete with it, so it makes the patient’s end result much, much better.”

A good end result from cataract surgery is a patient who can literally see better than they have in decades. That was the end result for James, who says he now sees as well as he did 50 years ago, and without glasses.

All in the Family

“First of all, the surgery is a piece of cake,” James exudes. “And one of the amazing things about it is, you can see perfectly again as soon as the surgery is done. It’s unbelievable how much better I see now. My vision is perfect.

“The ability to see at the age of seventy-four the way you did when you were in your twenties is phenomenal, so I recommend this surgery to anyone who needs it, and I definitely recommend seeing Dr. Kostick for it.

“After seeing how well she took care of my wife when she had to have her cataract surgery, there was no one else I was going to for my surgery. I think the world of
Dr. Kostick and her staff. They treat you like family.”

A family-like atmosphere is a big part of what Dr. Kostick strives for at Atlantic Eye Center. She is proud to be treating not just her patients’ husbands and wives but their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

“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 members 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 experi... 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