Easy Ride

Motorcycle enthusiasts seeing clearly following cataract surgery.

Marvin & Belinda Summers

Since Belinda Summers got off the back of her husband’s motorcycle and started riding alongside him on her own bike 17 years ago, the couple have put more than 150,000 miles on their bikes. They are a couple truly born to ride.

“We just love it,” Belinda confirms. “To us, a great day includes a good, long ride out to a place where can have a nice relaxing lunch and a good ride back. If we’re out riding for two or three hours and getting in about 200 miles on our bikes, we’re happy.”

Belinda, 70, and husband Marvin, 76, get out for those rides a couple of times a week. They’re not just limited to day trips, however. They’ve traveled throughout the Southeast on excursions that last for weeks.

“We took a trip to New Orleans once where we covered about 2,000 miles,” Marvin reports. “We’ve also been to Indianapolis, Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains. For our next trip, we’re probably going to go up to Lexington, Kentucky, then head back to New Orleans again before coming home. There’s a World War II museum in New Orleans that’s just exceptional, and we’re eager to see it again.”

No matter where they go, their next long trip will be their first without prescription glasses. The journey to that status was also rather extensive.

“It began about two years ago, when Marvin and I were told by our optometrist that we were beginning to develop cataracts,” Belinda relates. “At the time, we were both told that it was nothing to be concerned about, so we didn’t think much of it.

“About a year later, we were out riding one day, and I noticed that I couldn’t read signs or see things in the distance as well as I had before. It was probably about three months later that I made the appointment to see what was going on.”

Based on a recommendation from two friends who had previously had cataract surgery, Belinda made the appointment with William J. Mallon, MD, at the Center for Advanced Eye Care in Vero Beach.

“These friends both had cataract surgery on the same day, and I agreed to drive them,” Belinda remembers. “Both saw Dr. Mallon, and I remember both of them saying how pleased they were with him. So, I decided to make my appointment with him, too.”

Back in Focus

Marvin and Belinda are astounded by the difference cataract surgery has had on their vision.

During his initial examination in February, Dr. Mallon verified the optometrist’s diagnosis of cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, and recommended Belinda undergo surgery to remove them.

Cataract surgery is typically performed on one eye at a time with a week or two between surgeries. Each procedure takes about 10 minutes and is done with the patient awake and alert, using eyedrop anesthesia. The cataract is removed using an ultrasound device that breaks the lens into small pieces that are gently vacuumed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens, or IOL.

IOLs are made of acrylic or silicone and are 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 multifocal IOLs. Most multifocal IOLs are bifocal lenses that correct distance and either reading or intermediate vision, but there are now some advanced versions that correct distance, reading and intermediate vision.

Because an extra layer of tissue had formed on her eye’s macula, Belinda was not a good candidate for multifocal IOLs. To help free her of the need for glasses following surgery, Dr. Mallon opted instead to correct her vision with what he called a “functional monovision.”

“We implanted traditional lenses and offset her eyes just slightly,” the doctors explains. “It’s not monovision the way we would normally do it, but this way she can see well enough to drive without glasses and can read most things, short of small print, without glasses.”

Belinda confirms that outside of “the small print on medicine bottles,” she can see and read everything without glasses. After wearing glasses for 20 years, she says her cataract surgery has resulted in some drastic changes in her life.

“It’s so nice not to have to wear glasses, and my vision is so much better now,” she says. “I can see everything clearly, and colors are so much brighter. I didn’t realize how much my vision had faded until after I had the surgery and everything was corrected.”

Belinda was so thrilled with the outcome of her surgery that her experience inspired Marvin to visit Dr. Mallon and have his cataracts evaluated. What Dr. Mallon found with Marvin was quite alarming, however.

“Marvin’s cataracts were extremely dense, and he had quite a bit of astigmatism, which is an irregular curvature of the eye that causes blurred vision,” Dr. Mallon reports. “As a result, his vision was quite impaired. In addition, he had a very strong eyeglasses prescription.”

“It’s so nice not to have to wear glasses, and my vision is so much better now.”- Belinda

A glasses wearer for seven decades, Marvin described his lenses as looking like “the bottoms of Coke bottles.” His vision was so impaired, he was denied an opportunity to fly planes while in
the military.

He nevertheless wound up learning to fly privately after leaving the military and worked for a commercial airline for a decade. The glasses he wore, though, were always a bother that he never thought he’d be free of until he met Dr. Mallon.

“That’s why I was excited about having the surgery,” Marvin says. “After Belinda had her surgery, she was telling me how bright and clear everything was without her glasses, and I was thinking, Maybe Dr. Mallon can do that for me, too.

Dr. Mallon had to work around some unique challenges, not the least of which was some scar tissue on Marvin’s eyes that made it difficult to dilate his pupils.

“By fitting Marvin with a traditional toric IOL that’s designed to help people with astigmatism, we achieved our objective, and his distance vision is now 20/20 without glasses,” Dr. Mallon reports.

House Call

Like Belinda, Marvin is astounded by the difference cataract surgery has had on his vision. He says the only glasses he wears now are sunglasses and that the only thing better than his improved vision is the treatment he received from Dr. Mallon and his staff.

“What the surgery did for my vision is just amazing,” Marvin enthuses. “Everything is so much clearer now, and colors are more vivid. After wearing glasses for 70 years, it’s hard to believe sometimes that I can see as well as I do now without them. And that’s all due to Dr. Mallon, who is a fantastic doctor. He and everybody on his staff treat you like you’re someone special. You’re not a number with them.

They treat you like a person who matters.

“What the surgery did for my vision is just amazing,” – Marvin

“For instance, after Belinda had her first eye done, we were at home that night and the phone rang about 9 o’clock. It was Dr. Mallon, who said, I’m just calling to check in on my patient. How’s she doing?

“He called again after he did her second eye and he did the same thing after I had my surgeries. You don’t find very many doctors that do that nowadays, so I can’t praise Dr. Mallon and his staff enough, and Belinda feels the same way.

“We both have nothing but great things to say about Dr. Mallon and everybody at the Center for Advanced Eye Care. They’re all tremendous, caring people who do great work. We gladly recommend
them to everybody.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photos by Jordan Pysz. mkb


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