Back In The Driver’s Seat

20/20 vision achieved with PanOptix replacement lens.

Mary Abbott headshot

“The most amazing thing to me… is how well I see things up close now.” – Mary

When Mary Abbott’s longtime employer, a major tobacco company, offered her a buyout too lucrative to pass up, she took the money and ran — straight into retirement.

Three months later, Mary was back at work. Not with the same company but in the same industry and doing roughly the same job. However, much has changed about the way Mary goes about her day.

“I used to travel four days a week every week,” she says. “But ever since COVID-19 hit, I have not been traveling the way I used to. I’ve been working from home for a year now. The good thing is I found that I really enjoy being at home.

“I never minded the travel, but I felt like I was never home enough to do some of the things I like to do. I enjoy being with family and doing things outdoors like boating, jet skiing and just being by the pool. I can do a lot more of that now.”

Before the change, Mary’s travels took her to the Florida Panhandle, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. It was a little more than a year ago during one of her final business trips that she first noticed a problem with her eyesight.

“I began to notice that I couldn’t see very well after dark when I was driving,” Mary remembers. “There was a really bad glare from the oncoming cars. In the winter, especially, when it got dark earlier, I had to rearrange my schedule because of it.

“When you’re traveling in areas you don’t know very well and you’re struggling to see, you don’t feel very comfortable being on the road. I made sure I was back at my hotel by 4 or 5 o’clock each day, before it got dark.

Additionally, she didn’t want to drive at night, making it difficult to go out to dinner.

“After a while,” Mary recollects, “I mentioned the problem to my sister, who suggested that I have cataracts,” a condition that also affected their mother.

“You’re having the same problems Mom had, and to this day, I still believe that if Mom had gotten her cataracts taken care of, she never would have been in that car accident that was the start of all the problems she died from a year later,” Mary recalls her sister saying.

A Common Development

Cataracts typically develop because of a breakdown of the eye’s lens fibers, a clumping of the eye’s proteins or both. They often result in blurred vision, an increase in sensitivity to light and/or a reduction in the vibrancy of colors.

There is no known way to prevent or slow the development of cataracts, which mostly affect people 55 and older. However, surgery to remove cataracts has become one of the most common procedures in medicine. More than 4 million cataract surgeries are performed each year in the United States.

Mary soon took her sister’s advice and decided to learn whether she had cataracts and if surgery was needed.

“One day, I received a copy of Florida Health Care News in the mail,” Mary relates. “I was looking through it, and there was a story about a woman who was having the same problem I had. She was mostly having trouble seeing at night, and it turned out she had cataracts.
“She had nothing but praise for the doctor she went to see about them, and I decided to call the very same place and ask for the same doctor.”

The practice is Pasadena Eye Center.

When Mary made that call, she was asked whether she preferred a particular doctor. Based on what she read in the article, she only wanted to see David E. Hall, MD.

“I told them, I’m sure you have plenty of other doctors and they’re all great, but the woman I read about had nothing but rave reviews for Dr. Hall,” Mary confirms. “They said, Dr. Hall it is.

Dr. Hall first examined Mary in March 2020. He confirmed that her vision problems stem from developing cataracts and suggested she have surgery to remove them. Mary agreed.

Cataract surgery is typically performed on one eye at a time, with a break of a week or two between procedures. During each procedure, the clouded lens is broken up and removed with an ultrasonic device. It is then replaced with an artificial intraocular lens, or IOL.

IOLs are made of acrylic or silicone and coated with special material to protect the eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. During surgery, the IOL is rolled up and placed in the eye. Once in place, the IOL is unfolded and side structures called haptics hold it in place.

Like contact lenses, IOLs are available in different focusing powers. Standard IOLs correct vision primarily for distance, but patients can have one eye fixed for distance and the other for reading, an option called monovision.

A third option is a multifocal IOL. Most multifocal IOLs are bifocal lenses that correct distance and either reading or intermediate vision.

But there is a more advanced multifocal lens that acts as a trifocal lens to correct distance, reading and intermediate vision: the PanOptix. For people who want to be truly glasses-free following cataract surgery, the PanOptix is fast becoming the IOL most often recommended by doctors, including Dr. Hall.

The PanOptix is “one of the most exciting things that’s happened in cataract surgery in years,” Dr. Hall reports. “I’m so happy with the results we’re getting from it that I’ve made it my lens of choice for all my patients who want multifocal IOLs.”

Dr. Hall warns that the PanOptix lens may not work well for every patient. He notes that patients who have had LASIK surgery or anyone who has a cornea condition, macular degeneration or diplopia (double vision) are not good candidates.

But for patients such as Mary, or anyone who may be nearsighted and does not have another lingering vision issue, the PanOptix is considered the gold standard for replacement lenses during cataract surgery.

“I believe it’s the best option we can offer a patient who wants to be rid of glasses,” Dr. Hall concludes. “There’s no other lens like it. I highly recommend the PanOptix lens for patients who are active or no longer want the inconvenience of glasses.”

That described Mary, who gladly accepted Dr. Hall’s recommendation and jumped at the chance to become glasses-free for the first time since she was in her mid-20s.

Delays caused by the spread of the coronavirus forced Mary to wait until May to have her surgeries. Almost a year later, she says, receiving the PanOptix lenses was worth the wait.

“They did the left eye first, and by the very next day I was already seeing 20/20 out of that eye without glasses, which is incredible,” Mary enthuses. “Then I went back and got the right eye done, and by the next day I was seeing 20/20 out of that eye, too.

“The most amazing thing to me, though, is how well I see things up close now. I was always told that my near vision could never be corrected, but I can read without glasses and I love it. The other great thing is that everything is so much brighter and colorful now.”

Since the procedures, Mary has given out the phone number for Dr. Hall and Pasadena Eye Center to many people wondering how she became glasses-free.

“I tell them, Go see Dr. Hall,” she says. “He can absolutely perform miracles for you.”

Eyes on the Road

Like Mary, Linda Parker retired early. At age 54, she became one of just 5 percent of American workers to do so before age 55. Unlike Mary, Linda never became bored with retirement.

“Oh, no. I’m not bored at all,” Linda raves. “I consider myself one of the lucky ones. My goal was always to retire by the time I was 55 so I could spend more time with my husband. Now we live in St. Pete Beach, and we love it.”

Linda and her husband came to St. Petersburg from Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Linda worked as a financial director. When her company was sold, she was offered a position by the new ownership on the West Coast but retired to Florida instead.

Now she spends most of her days relaxing, visiting friends and neighbors, and walking her dog. Retirement, Linda shares, has been everything she hoped it would be, even though COVID-19 has derailed some of her plans.

“We’re not doing some of the things that I’d like to be doing, but I’m not complaining,” she says. “I feel sorry for the people who have to go into work, so I’m hoping we get through it soon.”

Linda recently had to lean on some of those who have continued to work during the pandemic. Her eyesight, which began to fade and grew worse over the course of a year, was at the heart of the matter.

“I first noticed there was a problem in the summer of 2019,” she explains. “My husband was going through some health issues that required us to make several trips to Tampa, and I noticed then that my vision just wasn’t as good as it used to be. So, at the end of 2019, I went to an optometrist and got new glasses.”

That helped, but six months later she started having problems again, and her eyesight “got really bad” over the summer.

“My dog was having some issues at the time, and we had to take him for some tests and surgeries and whatnot,” Linda explains. “My vision was so bad that my husband had to be my eyes for me on these trips because it was like I was looking through a cloud.”

Thinking the problem was cataracts, Linda spoke with a cousin-in-law who had recently been treated for the condition. His suggestion was to visit Pasadena Eye Center.

“He had his surgery done there a couple of years ago, and there was a write-up done on him in the Florida Health Care News about it,” Linda states. “After he showed me the article, I said, I’m going to the same place. That’s how I met Dr. Hall.”

Safety First

Linda was first examined by Dr. Hall in June 2020. She had worn glasses since she was in the sixth grade. That’s why, in addition to removing the cataracts, she asked whether she could be fit with replacement lenses that made her glasses-free.

Dr. Hall determined she was a candidate for the PanOptix lenses and recommended them, considering her desire to no longer wear glasses.

Because the cataract in Linda’s left eye was more advanced, she had surgery on that eye first, in August 2020. Undergoing surgery in the middle of a pandemic created some concern for Linda, but her fears were soon alleviated.

“They were very careful,” Linda says. “They took every precaution you could think of. On the day that I went in for that first surgery, I felt very safe. They checked my temperature as soon as I walked into the building, and for the very brief time that I was in the waiting room, I was the only person in the room.

“I don’t need to wear glasses at all, not for distance, not for reading, not for anything.” – Linda

“When I went back for my surgery, I wasn’t allowed to have anyone go with me. They took me right back to my own little bed, and you could tell they had taken all the protective measures that needed to be taken, so I was not afraid at all. I felt very comfortable.

“The surgery itself, well, that was just a breeze. I was in and out of there in about an hour and a half, all time accounted for, from the time I arrived to the time I was checked out. And I walked out of there seeing better than I did when I walked in.

“They tell you that it takes a day or two for the effects of the surgery to really take, but I was seeing better than I have in years within a few hours. And I don’t need to wear glasses at all, not for distance, not for reading, not for anything.”

Like Mary, Linda says one of the best results of her cataract surgery is that it has taken away the fear she once had of driving, especially at night. She also appreciates that she sees colors more clearly and vividly and that the world seems much brighter.

“I love that I can finally buy over-the-counter sunglasses,” she adds. “I am absolutely thrilled with the results of my cataract surgery. For so long, I would sit across from someone at a table and it was as though I was looking at them through a fog. Not anymore.

“My vision is the best it’s been in years and that’s without glasses. I wholeheartedly recommend Pasadena Eye Center to anyone. And personally, I would recommend Dr. Hall. But my cousin-in-law was treated by another doctor, and he’s just as happy as I am.

“It’s a great practice, and one of the reasons for that is because they have nothing but great people there. They go out of their way to do the best they can for their patients, and I really appreciate all they did for me.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Mary’s photo courtesy of Mary Abbott. js
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