Raise Your Sights
Kurt underwent cataract surgery at Pasadena Eye Center.

Kurt underwent cataract surgery at Pasadena Eye Center.

Surgery for rapid-developing cataracts results in crystal clear vision.

From the results of a blood test to the credit card number used to pay for an annual checkup, there’s a lot of information shared between doctors and patients that both parties wish to keep private.

For years, helping to maintain that privacy was what Kurt Long was all about.

“I invented software that protects patient records and electronic records,” says Kurt, the founder of FairWarning, an industry leader in patient protection and data security systems. “We sold the company in December 2020.”

Since selling his company, Kurt has begun a new venture. After purchasing some oceanfront property in Hawaii, he’s building a second home on the island of Kauai. His plan is to eventually split time between the Tampa Bay area and Hawaii.

“I’ve spent my entire life in Florida, and I love it,” Kurt explains. “But the climate is a bit more moderate in Hawaii. I also like to kite surf, and my sons surf, so the combination of outdoor activities, climate and culture is what attracted us to Hawaii.

“We still haven’t decided just how we’re going to split our time between Florida and Hawaii. We may spend a few months in Hawaii, or we might wind up staying there the whole time. And if none of that works out, then it was a fun project to work on.”

About the same time that he started the house project, Kurt, a 58-year-old who has never needed prescription glasses, suddenly began to experience problems seeing as clearly as he was accustomed to.

“I spend a lot of time outdoors, and at first I thought the problem was with my sunglasses,” Kurt relates. “I was always cleaning them, and I was criticizing the sunglasses manufacturer for making what I thought was a bad product.

“Then one day I happened to close my left eye. That’s when I first realized it wasn’t the sunglasses after all. Here I was disparaging the people that make these sunglasses and the problem was with me and, in particular, my right eye.

“When I closed my left eye, my vision was very blurry. And it wasn’t just my distance vision that was blurry. The vision in my right eye was blurry at all ranges, which made me think, I must have some structural issues going on here.”

Kurt’s discovery prompted a call to his concierge physician, who gave him the name of a number of ophthalmologists in the area. After doing some research on the options, Kurt chose Nathan R. Emery, MD, of Pasadena Eye Center.

Fading Fast 

A board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Emery first saw Kurt in late March. During that visit, Dr. Emery discovered that the sudden and distinct drop in the quality of Kurt’s vision was caused by a posterior subcapsular cataract.

Unlike cortical cataracts, which are a natural clouding of the eye’s usually clear lens that typically develops slowly in people 55 and older, posterior subcapsular cataracts develop rapidly. That was certainly the case with Kurt.

In weeks, the vision in his right eye deteriorated to where he was on the brink of being legally blind in that eye. Indeed, during a follow-up visit with Dr. Emery, the vision in his right eye measured 20/200, meaning he could only clearly see the large E on an eye chart.

The vision in Kurt’s left eye was beginning to deteriorate as well. With the vision in that eye suddenly measuring 20/50 because of the development of the same kind of cataract, Kurt was left with little choice but to undergo cataract surgery on both eyes.

Surgery is typically performed on one eye at a time, with a week or two between procedures. During each surgery, the clouded natural lens is broken up and removed with an ultrasonic device. It’s then 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 secured by side structures called haptics. 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 are now advanced versions that correct distance, reading and intermediate vision.

One is the PanOptix® lens. Designed for people who want to be truly glasses-free following cataract surgery, the PanOptix is fast becoming the IOL most often recommended by ophthalmologists, including Dr. Emery.
The PanOptix is not for everyone, though. Dr. Emery warns that patients who have had LASIK® surgery or anyone with macular degeneration or diplopia, which is better known as double vision, are not good candidates for the PanOptix IOL.

For those patients, Dr. Emery often recommends the Alcon AcrySof® IQ Vivity® IOL, which is designed to provide crisp, clear distance and intermediate vision as well as functional reading vision in patients who are not candidates for the PanOptix.

“The Vivity lens is similar to the PanOptix,” Dr. Emery educates. “They’re both made by Alcon, but the benefit of the Vivity is the technology eliminates some of the potential side effects that some people have experienced with multifocal lenses.

“In particular, people fit with multifocal lenses have sometimes complained of seeing rings around lights at night. Some have also complained of a slight loss in contrast sensitivity. We’re not seeing that with the Vivity lens.

“With the Vivity lens, you’re going to get very good distance and intermediate vision, and as far as your reading vision goes, you’ll be fine if you have good lighting and maybe a little larger print. For smaller print, you might need a pair of ‘cheater’ glasses to help you out.”

“Like a Miracle”

After weighing his options and doing some research, Kurt chose the Vivity IOL, largely because he believes it will be a better fit for his active outdoor lifestyle, where he relies mostly on his distance and intermediate vision. He’s been ecstatic with the results.

“I had surgery on my right eye on April 28, and it was like a miracle,” Kurt raves. “Within 48 hours, I went from having 20/200 vision in that eye to having super-crisp distance vision and really good medium range and short distance vision.

“Then I had the surgery on my left eye on May 12, and today my vision in that eye is as good as it is in my right eye. That was like experiencing another miracle, so the surgery has worked out extremely well for me. I’m very pleased.”

Kurt is equally pleased with the degree of care he received from Dr. Emery and the staff at Pasadena Eye Center. He praises their exceptional professionalism and attention to detail and says they made him feel like he was their most important patient.

“Surgeons are often at the mercy of the supporting team around them, and Dr. Emery’s team is not only competent, but also made me feel like my well-being was their top priority,” Kurt raves. “And Dr. Emery has a great personality to go along with all his great skill. I don’t know that I could give a higher recommendation to a doctor, and I don’t say that lightly.”

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