Seeing for Tomorrow

Fast-developing cataracts can be tackled quickly at any age.

A retired emergency room nurse, Papken Kazazain spent his life taking care of others, putting other’s needs before his own.

Papken Kazazain had cataracts removed by Dr. Alexandra Kostick at Atlantic Eye Center.

Papken spends much of his time assisting at his wife’s alteration shop.

Papken immigrated to the United States from Beirut in 1971. He originally settled in Manhattan and later, Boston. He and his wife, Liza, have been married for 43 years. In 1978, they left the cold winters behind and moved to the warm shores of Ormond Beach.

Today, instead of long shifts in the ER, he spends his days helping his wife in her alteration shop.

In recent years, Papken noticed his eyesight declining. While working on alterations, he had a hard time seeing seams and being able to sew. Night driving had become challenging, as halos would appear from oncoming headlights.

Papken changed his eyeglass prescription, thinking that would help. During his eye exam, he was advised that cataracts were present in both eyes. He avoided surgery for about five years, but eventually he had no choice but to address it.

He and his wife were established patients of Alexandra Kostick, MD, of Atlantic Eye Center.

“I initially saw him in 2011, and he had age-related cataracts developing,” describes Dr. Kostick. “He renewed his eyeglass prescription regularly to try to tide himself over.

“Fast forward to this past May and his vision had declined drastically. The cataracts progressed quickly. I recommended cataract surgery in June.”

Cataracts 101

Cataracts are a gradual discoloration or clouding of the eye’s natural lens. People who have cataracts describe a variety of symptoms, including glare from oncoming headlights, a loss in the vibrancy of colors or the need for frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions. Some patients experience no symptoms, while others report them in various combinations.

After Dr. Kostick examined Papken, she found his cataracts to be quite advanced, and he was having a hard time driving. After advising Papken of her findings, she discussed every aspect of his eye health and the risks and benefits of cataract surgery, including the details of the surgery. Papken knew exactly what to expect.

“Dr. Kostick spent time with me, getting to know me and my lifestyle so that I was able to make an educated choice when it came to the lenses I wanted,” Papken says. “I never felt rushed by her or like a number. She was informative and caring. She wanted to help me make the best choice based on my wants and needs. You don’t find doctors like that these days.”

Amazing results

During cataract surgery, a small incision – measuring about one-eighth of an inch in length – allows the introduction of a small, ultrasonic probe that applies sound waves to the cataract, emulsifying it so gentle suction can remove the debris from the tiny capsular sac that protects the lens, and the natural lens of the eye is removed.

“The size of the incision is important, because a smaller incision will allow faster healing without the need for stitches,” Dr. Kostick explains.

After removing the cataract, Dr. Kostick carefully places the chosen intraocular lens implant (IOL), and the procedure is finished.

For Papken, Dr. Kostick recommended monofocal lenses, the most commonly used lenses today. Monofocal lenses have equal power in all regions of the lens and can provide high-quality distance vision. People who have had monofocal intraocular lenses implanted usually require reading glasses.

Papken assures others that there is no need to feel anxious or nervous about the surgery.

“The surgery center and the staff there are wonderful,” he assures. “They make you feel relaxed and talk you through every step,” he says.

Today, Papken’s vision is a perfect 20/20.

“He only uses over-the-counter readers and no longer has glare issues,” Dr. Kostick reports. “He is doing very well.”

Papken is amazed at the clarity of many things often taken for granted, such as colors and being able to see to do his work.

“Colors are clear and vibrant, truly amazing,” Papken says. “I didn’t know what I was missing.”

Patient-centered care

Dr. Kostick and the staff at Atlantic Eye Center want everyone to know that they take great pride in the services they offer. Individualized care is provided to each patient.

“I want patients to know that we strive to tailor their cataract surgery to their own personal needs,” Dr. Kostick explains. “We take the time to meet with each person and choose the lens that is right for them and for their lifestyle. This is a long-term resolution, so we want to address their long-term goals.”

Dr. Kostick and her staff are specifically trained to treat patients like family.

“We work by our motto of being kind, caring and compassionate. When individuals are seen in our clinic, they become part of our extended family,” she says. “We strive to make them comfortable in a very caring environment. We provide a personal touch when they come through.”

Papken drives thirty minutes one way to get to Dr. Kostick’s office, a trip he says is worth the effort.

“They make you feel comfortable and welcomed the minute you walk in the door, “ he says. “I could easily choose an eye doctor closer to my home, but I would never want to do that because I am made to feel like part of their extended family. I truly feel like they care. I know they do, there is no doubt in my mind.”

A solid reputation in the community is something the staff at Atlantic Eye Center strives to maintain.

“I think word of mouth is so very important, and we pride ourselves on the referrals we get,” Dr. Kostick says. “I can honestly say my staff goes out of their way to ensure that everyone is cared for to our utmost capability. We pride ourselves on the personalized service we provide.”

Papken says Dr. Kostick has a passionate bedside manner and strong commitment to her patients.

“Dr. Kostick really cares about you as an individual and is forthcoming with information about the procedure and helps you decide the right lens to choose,” Papken says. “She is very thorough, and that is not something you find much these days. I’m appreciative of her care!”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photo by Nerissa Johnson.
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      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 experien... Read More

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      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