Cataracts, Cosmetics & More

Advanced techniques and technology support premier care for eyes and face

Dilip “Dr. Samy” Rathinasamy, MD

Vision is priceless. Believing this to be true, the physicians and staff at Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute are devoted to bringing premier eye care to residents on the Sunshine State’s west coast. That has been their unifying mission since 1981.

The eye specialists practicing at the institute’s South Tampa Eye Clinic offer a vast selection of services using the most advanced technology available. This includes employing the latest products for the treatment of cataracts.

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens that develops from a breakdown of lens fibers or a clumping of eye proteins, or both.

“Most people develop cataracts in their 60s. Some develop them earlier, some later,” reveals Dilip “Dr. Samy” Rathinasamy, MD, a board-certified
ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon at the South Tampa Eye Clinic. 

Symptoms of cataracts include blurry vision; glare, particularly with oncoming lights in traffic; double vision in one eye; halos; and difficulty reading.

Cataracts are treated with surgery in which the doctor removes the affected lens and replaces it with a synthetic intraocular lens, or IOL. 

“There are different types of IOLs,” Dr. Samy affirms. “Our goal is to select one that will minimize the patient’s dependence on glasses after surgery.”

Typically, cataract surgeons correct the patient’s vision for distance, and the patient will require reading glasses for near vision. One way around this is to correct one eye for distance and one eye for reading, an option called monovision.

“Not everybody is a candidate for monovision, and not everybody can tolerate it,” Dr. Samy notes. “The other option is to use one of the advanced-technology multifocal IOLs that have become available in recent years.

“One of the most popular multifocal options that we offer at our practice is the Alcon PanOptix®, which is a trifocal lens. It corrects for distance, intermediate and reading vision. It does this by splitting the light entering the eye so patients can utilize the same amount of light to see at all three focal points.”

When light is split, however, it can sometimes result in side effects such as halos, starbursts or glare. While these typically fade over time, they can be avoided by choosing another type of IOL, the AcrySof® IQ Vivity™ lens, also by Alcon. 

“The Vivity is classified as an extended range of vision lens,” Dr. Samy reports. “Instead of splitting light, it stretches the light so it can be used to focus on images far away and up close. It’s a little better for intermediate vision than for very close-up vision.

“It’s also a nice option for patients who may not be candidates for the PanOptix lens due to preexisting eye pathology. These considerations are taken into account during the patient’s cataract surgery evaluation with the physician.”

Cataract surgery has come a long way over the years, and more can be done today to improve the patient’s vision following surgery, Dr. Samy contends. One advancement is the femtosecond laser, which can be used to perform certain aspects of cataract surgery.

“The femtosecond laser creates the wound that allows us to enter the lens capsule to remove the cataract,”
Dr. Samy describes. “It also softens the lens and breaks it up into small pieces, which makes it easier to remove the cataract. It even minimizes the amount of energy required during surgery.”

Face to Face

Dr. Appelbaum discusses his evaluation with a patient.

Robert J. Applebaum, MD, MBA, is a fellowship-trained oculofacial plastic surgeon. At the South Tampa Eye Clinic, he addresses complaints concerning the eyes and face.

“Oculofacial plastic surgeons are specialists in treating conditions of the eyelid, eye socket, lacrimal (tear) system and face,” Dr. Applebaum educates.

“We treat cancer patients requiring reconstructive surgery following tumor removal anywhere on the face. We care for those seeking treatment for tearing issues, eyelid problems and other eye disorders.

“A big niche of patients comes to us for cosmetic procedures. Typically, when people think of cosmetic services, they think of regular plastic surgeons. But they are trained to treat the entire body. Oculofacial plastic surgeons specialize 100 percent on the face and eyes.”

One of the most common surgeries performed by
Dr. Applebaum is blepharoplasty, a procedure to correct dermatochalasis, or excess skin on the eyelids. 

“It’s a simple procedure that’s performed in the office,” Dr. Applebaum relates. “We start by applying a local anesthetic to make the patient comfortable. We then make tiny incisions, remove the excess skin from the eyelid and place a couple of stitches, which are removed a week later. Patients are generally in and out in 30 minutes.”

Many patients arrive at Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute seeking to rejuvenate their face. For this purpose, Dr. Applebaum provides a range of services, from BOTOX® Cosmetic and filler injections to laser treatment and light therapy. 

“BOTOX Cosmetic is often the first stage of nonsurgical treatment for aging faces,” Dr. Applebaum maintains. “BOTOX is a neurotoxin, but at the dosages we use for cosmetic procedures it’s not harmful to humans. 

“We inject BOTOX Cosmetic into the area where nerves are sending chemical messages signaling muscles to contract. Lines and wrinkles form when facial muscles contract and the skin scrunches up. BOTOX Cosmetic cleaves the signal from the nerves so that the muscles don’t get the message to contract.”

Injections of hyaluronic acid fillers such as JUVÉDERM®, VERSA™ and Restylane® have increased in popularity among those seeking facial rejuvenation. Dr. Applebaum often uses fillers to increase volume in the cheeks.

“As people age, they begin to lose fatty tissue in the cheeks, causing a hollow, sagging appearance,” Dr. Applebaum informs. “Fillers work against this condition by volumizing the hollow areas, which plumps the face and gives it a lift.

“We also use fillers in areas slightly lower on the face to decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around the nose and lips. Often, we use them in the lips to give the lips more fullness.”

The next stage of nonsurgical treatment for skin rejuvenation is the use of light therapy. Dr. Applebaum treats various facial issues using intense-pulsed light, or IPL. 

“IPL uses high-intensity light at multiple wavelengths,” he describes. “The wavelengths and frequency of the light can be adjusted to address many skin conditions, including rosacea, age spots, sunspots, hyperpigmentation, acne and acne scarring. IPL also works for hair and tattoo removal, so it’s a very versatile technology.”

Dr. Applebaum also offers laser procedures to enhance the look of the face.

“We use a CO2 or YAG laser to resurface facial skin at a deeper level,” he describes. “Using the laser, we make pinpoint changes to the skin. These changes cause the skin to enter a healing phase when collagen, a building block of skin, regenerates. The production of new collagen revitalizes and fortifies the skin, creating a younger appearance.”

Welcome to the Family

Jose Perez, MD, PhD

In January, Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute welcomed a new member to its team: Jose Perez, MD, PhD. Dr. Perez is a board-certified, comprehensive ophthalmologist who sees patients with multiple eye disorders at the South Tampa Eye Clinic. 

Dr. Perez was born in the Canary Islands and grew up in Madrid. Upon graduating from high school at age 17, he moved nearly 6,000 miles from Spain to California
for college.

“I was very lucky to go to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena because it’s a very good school for science,” Dr. Perez asserts. “My major was biology. All Caltech students have to take a couple of years of calculus, physics and chemistry. So, my education gave me a good background in math, physics, chemistry and, of course, biology.”

After earning his undergraduate degree with honors, Dr. Perez was accepted into the combined MD-PhD program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. His combined degrees are in physiology and biophysics.

“I completed my ophthalmology residency at the Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center,”Dr. Perez relates. “I chose ophthalmology, in part, because we can see patients in the clinic and help them see better with glasses. We can also perform surgeries and procedures involving lasers and optical systems. We can make a huge difference in a patient’s life.”

After his residency, Dr. Perez joined the only ophthalmologist in the small town of Franklin, Pennsylvania. There was a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-affiliated hospital in nearby Seneca, where Dr. Perez and his colleague
performed surgery. 

Ultimately, Dr. Perez decided to move to the Sunshine State. He practiced in Ocala and Lakeland before joining Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute, where he can treat most eye disorders, including glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a disease in which an imbalance of the fluid flowing inside and out of the eye causes an increase in pressure in the eye that can damage the optic nerve. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to severe vision loss.

“I see a lot of patients who have glaucoma or are glaucoma-
suspect,” Dr. Perez informs. “I also see patients who have diabetes and handle emergencies of all kinds. 

“If a patient’s condition is very complicated, or if they need a procedure or surgery, I refer them to one of the specialists on staff. It works out well because we have all the specialists on staff at the clinic.”

Dr. Perez also sees patients at the institute’s Brandon and Sun City Center clinics. 

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Dr. Perez photo courtesy of Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute. Photos by Jordan Pysz. 

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