Visual Trifecta

New trifocal lens frees sheriff’s deputy from glasses.

In July 1979, six weeks after graduating high school, Milo Millovitch entered the United States Air Force. At the time, Milo planned to stay in the service four years, then move on. But he wound up devoting nearly 24 years to the military.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Milo Millovitch

“While in the service, I worked as an Air Force firefighter,” Milo shares. “It’s the same as a civilian firefighter except we fight fires on the different aircraft in a base’s inventory, anything from fighter jets to bombers to cargo planes to helicopters. The aircraft involved depended on where I was stationed.”

While still on active duty, Milo joined the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office as a reserve deputy. He enjoyed that immensely, so he put himself through eight months of part-time academy at Hillsborough Community College. Upon graduation, he took the state law enforcement exam and passed.

“I had already submitted my application to Hillsborough County, and shortly after I retired from the Air Force, I was accepted for employment as a patrol deputy with the sheriff’s office,” Milo recounts. “I’ve been with them for going on seventeen years now.”

To assist Milo in performing his job duties, his patrol vehicle is equipped with sophisticated technology, including a state-of-the-art computer. It’s through this computer that Milo is dispatched to his service calls, and information about those calls is updated.

“I look at that computer constantly,” Milo reports. “Typically, I wear sunglasses, but I was noticing that if I wanted to look down at the computer screen or view something detailed, I had to put my sunglasses on my head and put on reading glasses. Without the glasses, the computer, books, newspapers, anything up close was blurry.

“I was overdue for an eye exam, so I made an appointment at Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute. They told me my eyesight had diminished a little, which was normal with age. I asked if I qualified for LASIK® laser surgery, and they said I did. They set me up for an appointment with Dr. Mathews.”

Priya M. Mathews, MD, is a board-certified, fellowship-trained cornea specialist and cataract and refractive surgeon at Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute. Dr. Mathews performed a thorough examination of Milo’s eyes and reported her findings.

“Dr. Mathews said, I have good news and bad news,” Milo recalls. “She said, The good news is you would potentially qualify for LASIK. The bad news is you have cataracts. I didn’t see that coming. Beside the slight reduction in my vision, everything looked pretty normal. I just had to use reading glasses. But I did notice that at night, some objects had a fuzzy edge to them.”

Clouds in the Eye

“Cataracts are the gradual discoloration or clouding of the eye’s natural lens,” explains Gregory L. Henderson, MD, founder of Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute. “A good way to describe a cataract is in comparison to a window made of clear, thick,
flexible plastic.

“As the elements take their toll on the plastic, it becomes discolored, distorting the images that can be seen through it. Eventually, the plastic becomes so discolored that it’s impossible to see anything through it. A cataract develops in
much the same way.”

“Today, I have the eyesight I had when I was eighteen. And I’m fifty-eight now, so I’m very happy with the outcome of my cataract surgery.” – Milo

“People with cataracts might experience murky or blurry vision,” adds Ana-Maria Oliva, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist and corneal and refractive surgeon at Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute. “They might notice more glare than usual, especially at night, with halos or starbursts around car headlights and lamps.

“In addition, colors may seem faded or have a yellowish or brownish tint to them. Reading may also become more difficult, as it becomes harder to distinguish the contrast between the letters on the page and the background. Frequent prescription changes to eyeglasses or contact lenses might also signal the presence of cataracts.”

“Fortunately, surgery to replace the clouded, natural lens with a clear, synthetic lens relieves these vision issues,” Dr. Henderson assures.

Dr. Mathews explained to Milo that his decreased vision and fuzzy edges were the result of his cataracts. She told him she could perform cataract surgery using a standard monofocal lens, which corrects for one particular distance, but he would still need glasses to see either close up or far away.

“I told her that I really wanted to get away from glasses, period,” Milo states. “That’s when she told me about a new multifocal lens that just came out. She gave me information about the lens, and I ultimately said, That’s what I want to do.

Popular Choice

The cataract surgeons at Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute use the most advanced technology available to provide patients the best opportunity for a superior outcome from their cataract surgery. An example of this technology is the PanOptix® trifocal lens by Alcon.

“The PanOptix trifocal intraocular lens became available in the United States in late 2019, and it is the only trifocal lens approved for use in the US,” Dr. Mathews relates. “It has quickly become a popular lens choice because it virtually eliminates the need for glasses following cataract surgery.

“People today have more active lifestyles and use their computers and smart phones with greater frequency. They want to be able to see at all distances following cataract surgery, and they do not want the hassle of glasses.

“The PanOptix trifocal lens gives people . . . near, intermediate and distance vision, eliminating the need for spectacles.” – Dr. Mathews

“The PanOptix trifocal lens gives people that luxury because it gives them near, intermediate and distance vision, eliminating the need for spectacles. The PanOptix uses different locations on the lens, called the optic, to enable clear vision at these three different focal points.

“To qualify for the PanOptix lens, patients must have otherwise healthy eyes and no significant irregularities of the cornea or retina. Patients with eye diseases such as macular degeneration are not candidates for this lens. It is primarily for individuals who live active lifestyles and really want to see at multiple distances without glasses following cataract surgery.”

People with small abnormalities of the cornea such as astigmatism may be candidates for the PanOptix because it also comes in a Toric lens. Toric lenses correct astigmatism.

“With astigmatism, the cornea is more oval shaped like a football rather than round like a basketball,” describes Dilip “Dr. Samy” Rathinasamy, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist at Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute. “This irregular shape typically results in blurred or impaired vision at any distance, which can also lead to headaches.

“Toric lenses work to correct astigmatism because they have different strengths in different parts of the lens. These different strengths make up for the asymmetric power of the misshapen cornea that is characteristic of astigmatism.”

“With astigmatism, one axis of the cornea is steeper than the other,” Dr. Mathews adds. “Toric lenses must be specifically oriented in the exact axis where the astigmatism is located. Extensive preoperative testing assists the surgeon in placing the Toric lens at the exact same axis as the astigmatism.

“Once preoperative decisions are made and it has been determined that the patient is a good candidate for the PanOptix lens, placing the lens is pretty straightforward. The PanOptix, whether it’s a general trifocal or a Toric lens, is implanted the same way as any other lens. Implanting the Toric has one extra step of aligning the lens at the exact axis of astigmatism. but it does not make cataract surgery more difficult in any way.”

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Milo says he made the “right decision” in choosing the PanOptix lens.

Spotlight on Brightness

Dr. Mathews performed cataract surgery on Milo’s right eye first, on December 30. Surgery on his left eye was performed two weeks later, on January 16. But Milo noticed a significant improvement in his vision after the initial surgery on his right eye.

“That night, it was like somebody turned on an LED spotlight because everything was much brighter,” Milo reports. “If I covered my left eye, everything looked bright. But if I covered my right eye and just looked through my left, it was like somebody pulled down a shade. There was a shadow over everything in the room.

“Once I had the second eye done, my vision became even brighter. I think initially, my right eye compensated for my left eye, so everything seemed bright. But once I had surgery on both eyes, everything really came into focus, and my vision improved tremendously.

“Today, I have the eyesight I had when I was eighteen. And I’m fifty-eight now, so I’m very happy with the outcome of my cataract surgery.”

When Milo’s journey began, he didn’t know he had cataracts, nor did he realize how they were dulling his vision. But choosing to undergo cataract surgery with the PanOptix lens turned out to be a good decision for him.

“I’m very happy with my decision,” Milo confirms. “Between cataract surgery and the trifocal lens, I can read again and look at my computer screen without having to put on glasses. I’ve gathered up all my glasses and donated them, so hopefully, somebody else can benefit from them. But I’m glasses free.

“Since surgery, my eyesight has improved one hundred percent. I’m ecstatic with my vision now. The procedure by Dr. Mathews was time and money well spent.”

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