Goodbye Contacts and Glasses

Clear lens replacement surgery brings the world back into focus.

Andy Polce had a decision to make: continue depending on glasses to correct his worsening vision or seek another way to see better.
Like most people still in the workforce, Andy’s eyesight is vital to his ability to make a living. As a realtor, he deals with contracts and other paperwork. He also does plenty of detail work as owner of the Dunedin House of Beer bar and microbrewery and is focusing on a wider distribution for his craft beers.Stock graphic from istockphoto.com.
About six years ago, he began having difficulty with his close-up vision,
especially discerning smaller print.
“You hit forty, you can’t read, and your arms are only so long, so you start using cheaters,” Andy relates. “I had to have glasses with me at all times. I had one pair for reading the newspaper and another for working on the computer. It just got to be a major pain.
“I had glasses everywhere, and every time I had to go somewhere, I had to put a pair in my pocket,” he adds. “I didn’t want to do that anymore. Enough was enough.”
Knowing his vision would only get progressively worse, Andy considered a laser procedure such as LASIK®, the most popular refractive surgery performed in the United States, to reshape his cornea and correct his presbyopia, which means “old eye” in Greek.
Presbyopia develops gradually and usually becomes noticeable in the early to mid 40s. It’s caused by a hardening of the eye’s lens, a clear structure about the size and shape of an M&M® candy. As the lens becomes less flexible, it can no longer change shape to focus on close-up images especially, making them appear blurry.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Andy is focused on greater distribution of his craft beer.

“When you’re young, your lens is very soft, and the muscles around it make it move inside the eye,” explains refractive cataract and LASIK specialist Robert J. Weinstock, MD, of The Eye Institute of West Florida.
“It’s called accommodation. You lose accommodation when you hit forty, and the lens actually starts to grow, almost like an onion, where it’s adding layers as it grows. And as it adds layers, the lens gets larger and more rigid and it can’t focus, which is why the vision starts to get blurry, and not just for reading vision but also middle and distance vision.’’

LASIK vs. Lens Replacement

Andy needed an expert to evaluate his eyes and explain his options, so he made an appointment with Dr. Weinstock. After a thorough examination and “all the tests,” Andy learned he was a good candidate for a clear lens replacement.
“People come in all the time thinking they want LASIK or some other procedure they’ve heard about,” Dr. Weinstock observes. “If they’re between the ages of forty and sixty and don’t have a mature cataract yet, but their lens is no longer working well, clear lens replacement is the perfect procedure. More and more people are doing it. As the word spreads that the latest generation of artificial lenses are better than ever and can give you natural vision without any side effects, the trend will continue.”
The specialists at The Eye Institute of West Florida are trained to treat every vision issue they encounter. Deciding which procedure is best for a patient like Andy involves taking more than just his age into consideration, Dr. Weinstock stresses.
“It depends on what’s wrong with the eye,” he comments. “Some people in their forties are wearing contacts or glasses, but they’re very nearsighted and were born with eyes in which the cornea, the front surface of the eye, is very steep. Their lenses are still working pretty well. In those cases, sometimes we’ll use LASIK.
“When it’s a gray area, I have to look at other issues and decide what to recommend. In general, LASIK works better for nearsighted people in their twenties and thirties whose lenses can still focus up close, and lens replacement works better in patients over forty whose lenses are losing their ability to work.”
Dr. Weinstock determined Andy’s distance vision had deteriorated, too,
“He really needed a prescription for distance glasses, middle and near, either progressives or bifocals, if he really wanted to see well,” the board-certified ophthalmologist notes. “But he was really not looking forward to wearing glasses or contacts to correct that.”
Dr. Weinstock discussed the pros and cons of replacing his flawed lenses with Symfony® Multifocal lenses, which can correct both distance and near vision.

“Life’s certainly been a lot easier since the surgery. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.” – Andy

The highly-advanced intraocular lens (IOL) is not only designed to correct vision at all distances, but provides seamless day-to-night vision and a lower risk for halos and glares than traditional lenses.
“We talked about restoring his vision back to the way it used to be, and he really liked the idea,” Dr. Weinstock reports. “It’s a very similar procedure to cataract surgery. We did a lens replacement in both of his eyes.”
The surgeon used a laser to remove Andy’s natural lenses in each eye, two weeks apart, after numbing them with anesthetic drops so he’d feel no discomfort. The surgery is called clear lens replacement because the natural lens is still clear, unlike the cloudy lens of a cataract.

No Worries About Cataracts

Andy describes his surgeries, performed over the winter holidays, as “real quick, in and out.” He noticed a difference in his vision “pretty much immediately.”
“They did my right eye first, and afterward, the whites were so much whiter,” Andy remembers. “The whites used to look like a smoker’s yellow. The colors are so much brighter, too.”
Besides freeing him from wearing glasses, the procedures will prevent Andy from developing cataracts later in his life.
“His Symfony lenses will never cloud up,” Dr. Weinstock confirms. “He’s got fresh, new lenses that will last him the rest of his life.”
Andy is very happy he trusted his eyesight to a doctor with a “good bedside manner” who is “very respected in the business.” He recommends Dr. Weinstock and The Eye Institute of West Florida to anyone needing skilled, specialized eye care.
“Life’s certainly been a lot easier since the surgery,” Andy enthuses. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

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    • The Eye Institute of West Florida

      The Eye Institute of West Florida was founded by Stephen Weinstock, MD, in 1974. For more than forty years, the practice has provided excellence in eye care in a warm, personal environment combined with a tradition of service and devotion to th... Read More

    • Robert J. Weinstock, MD

      Robert J. Weinstock, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist and is fellowship trained in cataract and refractive surgery. Dr. Weinstock joined the practice in 2001 after completing his residency at the St. Louis University School of Me... Read More

    • Stephen M. Weinstock, MD, FACS

      Stephen M. Weinstock, MD, FACS, is a cataract specialist. He founded The Eye Institute of West Florida in 1974, pioneering sub-specialty eye care in Pinellas County. Today, as President and Medical Director, Dr. Weinstock is recognized as a worl... Read More

    • Neel R. Desai, MD

      Neel R. Desai, MD, is a fellowship-trained ophthalmologist specializing in LASIK, cataract, and corneal diseases. Dr. Desai is a top graduate of the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and completed his fellowship in cornea, ... Read More