Freedom from Glasses

Graphic from kisspng.Cataract surgery alleviates need for glasses, improves vision.

As military tours of duty go, the 23-month stint that John Clark served overseas with the 1st Cavalry Division and 173rd Airborne during the Vietnam War was about as manageable as any soldier could possibly hope for.

As a communications expert working in the small town of An Khê in the Central Highlands, John saw no combat and worked in a secured, air-conditioned communications facility.
“I don’t brag about it, but I definitely lucked out,’’ says John, whose three-decade-long career in communications continued in similar comfort. It wasn’t until after he retired that John’s good fortune began to wane as some medical issues, including a very significant one associated with his eyesight, crept up on him.

“I’ve always been very good about getting my eyes checked regularly, and for a few years, the eye doctors had been telling me, You’ve got a nice cataract growing there,’’ John reveals. “At first, I really didn’t notice it, but that changed the last year or so.
“I eventually began to notice that I wasn’t seeing as well as I had before, especially driving at night. Whenever I would drive somewhere, it was like the lights were exploding. The glare would fill the whole windshield of my car.

“At home it was just the opposite, everything was dim. I had to start leaving lights on all over the house because I wasn’t seeing as well. I didn’t need the light to get to the room, but I needed the light on once I got into the room, so I just left them on.”
John, who had worn glasses all his life, put up with the inconveniences for several months. Finally, during his annual eye exam last year, he was told his cataract needed to be removed and was advised to have his surgery done at The Eye Institute of West Florida.

That’s where he met Robert J. Weinstock, MD, a board-certified, fellowship-trained cataract and refractive surgeon who is in his 18th year of service at the institute and is now the institute’s director of cataract and refractive services.
During his initial examination of John, Dr. Weinstock learned that John had cataracts in both eyes and that they had matured to the point where they were affecting his vision. He then scheduled John for cataract surgery.

A Common Occurrence

As they did with John, cataracts develop naturally in about 90 percent of all people 65 or older and more often than not as a result of either a breakdown of the eye’s lens fibers, a clumping of the eye’s proteins, or both.

Patient photo by Jordan Pysz.

John had one eye corrected for distance and the other for reading,
which is known as monovision.

They most often cause blurred vision, an increase in sensitivity to light and/or a reduction in color vibrancy, and while they usually develop slowly, they can be corrected quickly, easily and painlessly through a brief, outpatient surgical procedure.

With a break of a week or two in between surgeries, physicians usually correct one eye at a time using an ultrasonic device that breaks up the cloudy, natural lens. Once that old lens is removed, it is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens or IOL.

Standard IOLs correct a patient’s vision for distance only, meaning the patient would still need to wear glasses for reading. Multifocal IOLs correct vision if any present astigmatism is corrected simultaneously for both distance and close-up needs, such as reading, the way bifocal glasses or multifocal contact lenses do.

Patients can also have one eye fixed for distance and one fixed for reading. That process is called monovision. That was the correction Dr. Weinstock recommended for John, who first went through a natural monovision trial, at Dr. Weinstock’s recommendation.
“During a natural monovision trial, we give the patient about a week to see how their brain will tolerate one eye being set for distance and the other being set to see up-close vision,’’ Dr. Weinstock informs. “John was one who actually adjusted very well to that.

“We corrected his left eye first, for distance, and when he looked in the distance following the surgery, his brain automatically used the distance-corrected eye. At the same time, when he looked at his cell phone, his brain automatically used the noncorrected eye, set for near.

“That eye was still blurry and hazy because we had not yet removed the cataract from it. We could tell by the way he responded to that first surgery that once we corrected the second eye, his brain would adjust very well with monovision.

“When we corrected the second eye, we purposely left him nearsighted in that eye because we want that eye to continue reading for him without glasses. Now, it’s like he has a built-in pair of reading glasses in that one eye, so he doesn’t need reading glasses at all and has crystal-clear distance vision as well from the first eye.”

Better Than Ever

John underwent cataract surgery on his left eye in January. During that surgery, Dr. Weinstock also corrected the astigmatism in John’s left eye using a special laser. He also fine-tuned the power of his lens by using a special device called the ORA System.
ORA stands for Optiwave Refractive Analysis. It allows eye surgeons to obtain accurate measurements of the shape of the eye after the cataract has been removed so the newly implanted IOL gives the patient the clearest vision possible.

Patient photo by Jordan Pysz.

John Clark

“By correcting his astigmatism and using the advanced technology ORA System to measure the shape of the eye, we were able to get the perfect matched lens for John, which gave him perfect 20/20 distance vision in that eye,’’ Dr. Weinstock reports.
“All of a sudden, he could drive again, even at night, without glasses. He could see street signs and watch TV. He had surgery on his right eye a week after he had the surgery on his left, and he began to notice a drastic improvement in his reading vision as well.”

“After the first surgery, I would close my right eye and look only out of the left, and everything was bright and clear,’’ John says. “But when I looked only out of my right eye, the one that hadn’t been corrected yet, everything was yellow and blurry.

“That’s when I realized that I never knew just how bad my eyesight had become. I naturally just got used to seeing poorly, I guess. Now that I’ve had both eyes done, I can see everything perfectly in the distance and up close.”
John adds that he’s extremely happy he was advised to visit Dr. Weinstock for his surgery. He says the entire staff at The Eye Institute of West Florida deserves high grades for its care and compassion.

“They’re all just aces,’’ John says. “Dr. Weinstock is very personable, and he made sure I knew everything that was going to happen all along the way. They even called me the very next day after the surgeries to make sure everything was all right. They’re all great.”

Nurse Peggy

Like John, Peggy Hall learned a couple years ago that cataracts were developing in her eyes. Sometime last summer, the cataract in her right eye began to develop rapidly, causing her to make a couple of changes in her contact lens prescription.

Patient photo by Jordan Pysz.

Peggy Hall

“All of a sudden, the vision in my right eye began to get progressively worse,’’ explains Peggy, a 61-year-old registered nurse who has spent the past 38 years of her 40 years in nursing serving patients at Clearwater’s Morton Plant Hospital.

“At first, I was just having a lot of blurred vision. But then I started to see halos around lights at night. And they were pretty pronounced. It was like there was a rainbow around the street lights, which made me a little anxious.

“I quickly reached a point where I wasn’t all that crazy about driving at night anymore, so I would only drive at night if I absolutely had to. Over time, the problem eventually started affecting me at work a little bit, too.

“I’m a triage nurse, and I’d worn multifocal contact lenses for years, but I still used readers at the desk and when I would work with patients, reading their monitors and charts. After a while, I had to get a little closer to the monitor to read it clearly.”

Peggy’s growing vision problems prompted her to visit her eye doctor, who twice prescribed new contact lenses. When the problem persisted, Peggy’s eye doctor suggested she see Dr. Weinstock at The Eye Institute of West Florida.

“When I first saw Dr. Weinstock in November of last year, my contact lens prescription had changed even more,’’ Peggy says. “That’s how fast the cataract was developing, so I knew I needed to have it taken care of.”

During her initial visit with Dr. Weinstock, Peggy made plans to have her cataract surgery done in January. Because she was accustomed to wearing multifocal contact lenses, she chose to have multifocal IOLs implanted during that surgery.

“The multifocal implants are very similar to the optic design of the multifocal contact lenses,’’ Dr. Weinstock informs. “That made them a good choice for Peggy because her brain was already accustomed to the use of the multifocal contacts.

“That’s a very important factor that has to be taken into consideration, because cataract surgery is no longer a one-size-fits-all type of procedure. There’s a big difference now between what you get from customized refractive cataract surgery and basic cataract surgery.

“Standard IOLs are going to be fine for a lot of people, depending on their lifestyle. But because of the advances that have been made in technology and training, there’s another level we can go to that can leave you completely glasses free and with exceptional vision.”

Amazing Outcome

Peggy reached that level after undergoing a surgical procedure similar to John’s, one in which Dr. Weinstock corrected her astigmatism and used the ORA System to ensure the implanted IOLs gave her the clearest, sharpest vision possible.

Patient photo by Jordan Pysz.

Peggy received multifocal implants, which allow her to see all distances clearly

The surgery, and Peggy’s choice of multifocal IOLs, proved a perfect combination for her as she is now living a glasses-free and contact-lens-free lifestyle for the first time since she was eight years old.

“The outcome was absolutely amazing,’’ Peggy exudes. “I wore glasses and contact lenses for fifty-three years, and the first morning I woke up and was able to see the alarm clock without reaching for my glasses was a very emotional moment for me.

“That sort of thing has been very cool. It’s also been a little hard to get used to. I mean, I’ve been in the habit of taking out my contact lenses every night and putting them in every morning for so long that I still think to do it sometimes. But I don’t have to.

“The best part, of course, is that my vision is perfect. Actually, it’s better than perfect. My vision is 20/15 now, so I’m very lucky. I don’t need to wear readers or anything anymore, and I see in the distance very clearly and crisply.”

Like John, Peggy’s vision improved dramatically after she had just one eye corrected. In her case, that was the right eye. The procedure Dr. Weinstock performed on both her right and left eye was
“completely uneventful.”

“It was so easy,’’ she raves. “And the way they do everything is so organized. They have it down to a science how they get you in and out of there. It doesn’t take any time at all, just a few minutes for the surgery itself, which is great.

“And everyone there is so professional, yet they treat you like family. Everybody greets you and is very courteous.
Dr. Weinstock is just amazing. Even though he’s treating so many people, he treats you like you’re his only patient.

“The reason I went to him is because so many of the surgeons and anesthesiologists I work with have been to him and recommended him. I figured that if they trusted him with their eyes, then that’s who I’m going to trust my eyes to, and I’m glad I did.”

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