Sight Adjustment

Drawing a bead on cataracts.

The root of Brad Allin’s ardor for firearms and shooting sports can be traced back to his days as a young boy growing up in New York State, where a friend’s father first taught him how to shoot and regularly took him along on his trips to a local gun range.

Brad and Sarah Allin both had cataract surgery at the Center for Advanced Eye Care.

Brad and Sarah have regained their active lifestyle.

With the seed already sewn, Brad’s passion for the hobby only grew further when a buddy in college took him hunting for the first time. Soon thereafter, it became the foundation for his qualification as an Expert rifleman in the US Marine Corps.

“I mostly shoot shotguns now,” says Brad, a 78-year-old Connecticut resident who spends his winters here in Florida with his wife, Sarah. “I like to deer hunt, so I do that when I can, but mostly I duck hunt or bird hunt. I really enjoy it.”

Brad was out hunting one day last fall when he suddenly realized he could no longer see the bead at the end of the barrel of his shotgun as clearly as he once did. The suddenly cloudy view affected his aim that day and caused him to miss more shots than usual.

Not long thereafter, Brad noticed that colors were no longer as vibrant as they had been before. He also noticed that he wasn’t seeing as clearly at night as he had in the past and that seeing well enough to drive safely, especially at night, was becoming an issue.

These problems all began to surface not long before Brad, a daily contact lens wearer, was due for his annual eye exam, which he gets at the Center for Advanced Eye Care in Vero Beach. It was during that annual exam that Brad learned his vision problems were the result of cataracts.

The Majority Has It

The development of cataracts is a rather common occurrence. More than 90 percent of all people 65 or older develop cataracts, which will also cause some form of vision impairment in half of all the people between the ages of 75 and 85.

Cataracts are most often a result of aging and the natural bonding of the protein that makes up the eye’s lens, but heavy smoking, diabetes and unprotected overexposure to the sun can also cause cataracts to develop.

That development can begin many years before any symptoms are noticed, and while cataracts do develop at different rates, they usually result in a clouding of the lens that leads to blurred vision, a reduction in the vibrancy of colors and poor night vision.

“It’s amazing how many people don’t realize what’s happened when they develop cataracts or just sort of accept the belief that just because the eye is aging, they don’t see as well,” explains William J. Mallon, MD, at the Center for Advanced Eye Care.

“Most of the patients we see are not aware that they have cataracts. They usually tell us they’re not seeing as sharply as they used to or that colors have faded or they’re having trouble seeing while driving at night, and most of the time, those problems are cataract related.”

That was certainly the case with Brad, but he wasn’t the only one in his family who was surprised to learn they had developed cataracts. Sarah received the same news about a week after Brad did while she was having her own eye exam at the Center for Advanced Eye Care.

“I hadn’t had an eye exam in a couple of years, and I wanted to get some new, fancy eyeglasses, so I made an appointment,” Sarah explains. “Brad had already decided he was going to have the surgery at that point, so I decided I would have it, too.”

Reclaiming Clear Vision

Cataract surgery is typically performed in a matter of minutes with eyedrops for anesthesia. The surgeon uses an ultrasonic device to break up the cloudy, natural lens. Once that cloudy lens is removed, a synthetic, intraocular lens that permanently corrects the vision is implanted.

Brad and Sarah Allin both had cataract surgery at the Center for Advanced Eye Care.

Brad & Sarah Allin

For patients requiring the surgery on both eyes, physicians usually perform the procedure in two separate visits, with each visit devoted to a single eye. In all cases, surgery is preceded by a consultation in which the patient and physician decide which lenses are best for the patient.

Brad was advised to go with a toric lens that is designed to correct astigmatism. He also opted to have his vision corrected primarily for distance, but Dr. Mallon, who performed the surgery, made sure to improve Brad’s intermediate vision as well.

“With a patient such as Brad, who was happy to continue wearing glasses for reading, I will usually cheat ever so slightly to the near side so they can see the dashboard of their car or the screen on a computer without having to wear glasses,” Dr. Mallon informs.

“I do that because your 20/20, perfect distance vision in both eyes may be great, but it may not be very practical for your day-to-day life because a lot of what we do is just across the table, things like looking down at our food while we eat or looking in the mirror.

“If you don’t have that good middle-zone vision, you’re basically going to be anchored to your eyeglasses for almost everything. So, I do what I call a mini-monovision with them, just to make sure their overall vision is a little more functional without glasses.”

Monovision is a treatment in which the goal is to leave the patient completely glasses free by correcting one eye for distance and the other for close-up vision. Sarah, who had no astigmatism to correct, opted for that treatment.

It wasn’t until after she had the first eye corrected that she realized just how bad her vision had become.

“I started thinking that we needed to get a new sofa because the colors on it were fading so badly, but when I got home after the surgery on the first eye, I realized it wasn’t the colors on the sofa that were fading, it was my eyesight,” Sarah recalls.

“I could close one eye, the one they hadn’t done the surgery on yet, and see how bright the colors really were. I had no idea that I had this grimy, dirty windshield over my eyes, but I did because after the surgery, everything was beautiful. It was really amazing.”

Brad was equally amazed at the results of his surgery. He says he now sees everything from the bead on his rifle to the fowl he’s stalking vividly and adds that he and Sarah both recommend
Dr. Mallon and the Center for Advanced Eye Care for anyone needing eye care.

“I keep on using the word amazing to describe the whole process and all the people that were involved in it, because that’s the only way to describe it,” he says. “Dr. Mallon and his staff did a great job, and I’m just so pleased that I’m seeing better. I couldn’t be happier.”

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