Clouds Are In My Eyes

Multifocal replacement lens provides silver lining after cataract removal.

Charlie Franklin shoooting video for CNN

Charlie wanted razor sharp vision while operating the camera for ESPN.

Charlie Franklin enjoyed a fruitful, 35-year career teaching elementary students in western New York, where he began the region’s first Gifted and Talented Program. Charlie used the gift of imagination to design innovative learning activities that connected classroom experiences to the real world.

“My buddy and I did some creative things,” Charlie acknowledges. “We put together a program where we had a group of kids baking every day, and then we sold the baked goods in the school. We called it the rolling bakery.

“We also ran a stock market club and invested in the school store. The kids could buy shares. It gave all the kids a fair opportunity to learn. I poured my heart and soul into my job, as I do with everything, and it worked out well. I really enjoyed teaching.”

The 71-year-old Niagara Falls, NY, native enjoys sports as well. While he was teaching, he coached his school’s golf and basketball teams and officiated basketball games in his spare time. At age 55, Charlie retired and relocated to DeLand, where he became involved in the sports program at Stetson University.

“I started working the scorer’s table for their basketball games,” Charlie relates. “That led to me becoming a cameraman and running HatterVision, Stetson’s online video channel. We started broadcasting baseball games and other events.

“When our program upgraded to ESPN and live TV, I became part of that team. Now, I’m the lead cameraman for Stetson University broadcasts on ESPN. I operate a big camera for ESPN, so my vision is crucial.”

Charlie has worn glasses since he was young and visits his eye doctor routinely for prescription upgrades to keep his vision sharp. Recently, while attempting to renew his Florida driver’s license, he received an unexpected surprise.

“I failed the vision test,” Charlie exasperates. “With both eyes open, I could still see to drive, but when they tested each eye separately, my left eye failed. I had my optometrist check my eyes, and he said I need cataract surgery.

“My vision is 20/20 at all distances now. And the beauty is I don’t need glasses anymore.” – Charlie

“During a previous exam, he warned me that cataracts were forming, but he said they had developed to the point where I needed to consider surgery. After failing the driver’s license eye check, I figured I had no choice.”

When confronted with his diagnosis, Charlie admitted to experiencing some of the common symptoms of cataracts: cloudy or blurry vision, difficulty seeing at night, sensitivity to light and glare, seeing “halos” around lights and fading of colors. But his vision declined so slowly over time that the indicators hardly registered.

“I noticed the changes as my vision deteriorated little by little, but it wasn’t to the point that I was a danger driving,” Charlie insists. “Either way, I had to find a surgeon to operate on my eyes, so I asked my optometrist who he’d recommend if his mom or dad needed cataract surgery. He said, I would go to Dr. Barber in DeLand.

Kevin M. Barber, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon at Central Florida Eye Specialists. In addition to DeLand, the practice has offices in Lake Mary, Orange City and New Smyrna Beach.

“Mr. Franklin is a videographer with ESPN, and when he first came to me he was concerned the cataracts might affect his ability to work and do what he loves,” Dr. Barber recalls. “Fortunately, we can fix cataracts with surgery.”

Premium Technology

Cataracts are a clouding of the normally clear lens that develops naturally as a result of a breakdown of lens fibers, a clumping of eye proteins or both.

There is no known way to prevent or slow the development of cataracts, which typically form as part of the natural aging process in people 55 and older. However, surgery to remove cataracts has become one of the more common procedures in medicine.

More than 4 million cataract surgeries are performed each year in the United States. During such procedures, the cataracts are removed and the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear, synthetic implant called an intraocular lens, or IOL.

Standard IOLs correct distance vision, meaning patients may still need to wear glasses for reading. Patients can also choose monovision, where one eye is fixed for distance and the other for reading, or choose a multifocal IOL that corrects vision at multiple distances.

Charlie chose the latter option.

“Mr. Franklin is quite nearsighted and has been highly dependent on thick glasses for most of his adult life,” Dr. Barber reports. “He expressed a desire to reduce his dependence on glasses following cataract surgery because he believed that would help him in his work as a videographer.

“He elected to have a premium technology lens, the PanOptix®, implanted. The PanOptix is a multifocal lens designed to provide clear distance, intermediate and near vision without glasses. It’s an exciting advancement in cataract surgery.”

Central Florida Eye Specialists began offering the PanOptix shortly after it was approved for use in the US in August 2019. Charlie was among the practice’s first patients to receive the lens.

The PanOPtix is not for everyone, though.

“We don’t recommend the PanOptix for someone who has macular degeneration, significant glaucoma, diabetes or any other condition that can affect the eyes,” Dr. Barber elaborates. “It also requires someone with a strong desire to reduce dependence on glasses, so there’s a lifestyle and personality component as well.”

“Bionic Eyes”

Charlie says he was fortunate to learn of his cataracts when he did because he’s thrilled with his PanOptix implants. He’s equally pleased with the treatment he received from Central Florida Eye Specialists. The combination, he says, greatly improved his quality of his life.

“Dr. Barber nailed it,” Charlie lauds. “My vision is 20/20 at all distances now. And the beauty is I don’t need glasses anymore. Now, when I wake up and open my eyes, I have clear vision. I don’t have to put my contacts in or fumble around for my glasses.

“This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, vision-wise. I don’t need reading glasses. I don’t need glasses for distance vision. All I need are sunglasses.”

Charlie also appreciates that Dr. Barber and his staff made him feel very comfortable. His interactions with Dr. Barber were very positive and pleasant.

“Dr. Barber knew how important my vision was to me and that I needed good vision everywhere, and he dialed me in,” Charlie asserts. “My vision is phenomenal now. The broadcast team says I’ve got bionic eyes.

“All I know is that since I had my cataract surgery, my vision has been great. It’s enabled me to continue to work, and I see better today than I’ve ever seen before.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz. js
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    • Central Florida Eye Specialists

      Central Florida Eye Specialists offers an extensive list of medical and surgical treatments so that they can better serve their patients. They evaluate your individual needs and setup the most appropriate treatment method. Some of their s... Read More

    • Kevin M. Barber, MD

      Kevin M. Barber, MD, is board-certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. He earned his undergraduate degree summa cum laude from Lee University in Cleveland, TN, and his medical degree with highest honors from the University of Flor... Read More