Say ‘Later, Gator’ To Glasses

PanOptix lens a clear winner for Florida super fan.

Of the half-dozen or so restaurants that Sidney Rice has opened in Pinellas County over the years, the most successful and best known was the one he opened in Treasure Island called Gators Cafe & Saloon.

Sid is seeing better since being fit with the PanOptix lens during cataract surgery.

Sidney Rice

Known better to locals as “Gators on the Pass,” it claimed to be the “world’s longest waterfront bar,” and in its heyday, it was arguably the best place outside of Gainesville to watch a University of Florida football game.

Sidney, who was given the nickname “King Gator” by legendary Gators coach Steve Spurrier, was the reason.

Though he never attended UF as a student, Sidney became such a huge fan of Gators football that he hosted daylong watch parties in the second-floor saloon at Gators on the Pass that came to include a floor show emceed by Sidney.

“I did things like Gator Wheel of Fortune and tossed out footballs from beer distributors and things like that,’’ Sidney remembers. “I’m an idea person, a promoter, and I had a lot of fun emceeing those Gators games.”

Sidney’s super fan status has earned him quite a few perks over the years. He hosted the UF coaching staff at Gators on the Pass one year and was a special guest on the team’s charter flight to a game at Tennessee a year later.

Today, Sidney gets VIP treatment at any Gators game he wishes to attend, but his days of hosting watch parties are over. They ended in 2012 after his family sold Gators on the Pass, which recently closed for good.

Sidney’s legend lives on. Now 68, he’s still as passionate about the Gators and even has a King Gator clothing line he promotes. He continues to dabble in the restaurant business, now as the owner of Marlin Hunter Seafood.

But his ability to run his businesses and watch Gators football recently became compromised by the development of cataracts, a clouding of the normally clear natural lens of the eye that often occurs as part of the natural aging process.

“I wore glasses from the time I was in fifth grade because I was very nearsighted,” Sidney relates. “I couldn’t see anything far away, but the cataracts made it even worse. When they started to develop, everything got very, very fuzzy.

“It became hard for me to drive at night because I started to see these little halos around lights, and reading became difficult. It was like I needed more light to read. Even watching TV became difficult. Like I said, everything was very fuzzy, not sharp.

“The good thing is, I have a very good eye doctor in Dr. Emery at Pasadena Eye Center. He’s been monitoring my cataracts for a few years and recently said it was time for them to come out, so I said, OK, let’s get it done.

Three In One

Nathan R. Emery, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist, notes that the development of cataracts is usually due to either a breakdown of lens fibers or a clumping of the eye’s proteins, or both. They usually result in blurred vision, an increase in the eye’s sensitivity to light or a reduction in the vibrancy of colors.

However, surgery to remove cataracts has become one of the more common procedures in medicine, with more than 4 million each year in the United States.

Cataract surgery is typically performed on one eye at a time, with the patient taking a week or two between procedures.

During each surgery, which can be completed in about 15 minutes, the physician breaks up and removes the clouded lens with an ultrasonic device. Once the natural lens has been removed, an artificial intraocular lens, or IOL, is implanted.
IOLs are made of a flexible plastic. Each one is rolled up as it is placed inside the eye, then unfolds. Side structures called haptics hold it in place.

“I don’t have to wear glasses at all for anything, and I absolutely love it.” – Sidney

IOLs permanently correct a patient’s vision and come in various forms. 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.

Another option is multifocal IOLs. One such multifocal lens acts like a bifocal lens to correct distance and reading or intermediate vision. There is also a new multifocal lens that acts like a trifocal lens to correct distance, reading and intermediate vision.

This trifocal IOL is called the PanOptix® lens. It has been available to patients in Europe for five years and Canada for three years, and recently received FDA approval for use in the United States.

“Most people these days need all three aspects of their vision to function properly,” Dr. Emery explains. “They can be looking at their cellphone while working at a computer and then suddenly need to look into the distance for some reason.

“The problem with prior multifocal IOLs is that they are not great at providing patients with all three aspects of vision. They’re great at providing two, say distance and reading vision, but then the third aspect may not be as sharp.

“With the PanOptix lens, you get that sharp distance, intermediate and near vision, and we’ve been very pleased with the results we’re getting in patients who want all three of those aspects and want to be independent of glasses.”


Dr. Emery warns that the PanOptix may not work well for every patient. He notes that patients with macular degeneration, a corneal condition, or diplopia, better known as double vision, are not good candidates.

Sid is seeing better since being fit with the PanOptix lens during cataract surgery.

The PanOptix lens has given Sidney “King Gator” Rice crystal-clear glasses-free vision.

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

“It really is one of the best options we can offer a patient who wants to be glasses-free,” Dr. Emery concludes. “When I have a patient who has that goal in mind, I now lean in the direction of recommending the PanOptix lens for them. There is also a toric version of the PanOptix lens, so for patients who have a great deal of astigmatism, which is an imperfect curvature of the cornea, we can provide clear vision at all three distance levels as well.”

As he does with all patients who qualify, Dr. Emery recommended the PanOptix for Sidney. Sidney accepted and was fit with PanOptix lenses during surgery in September. Since then, he has been seeing better than ever.

“When I say I used to wear glasses, I’m talking about wearing glasses that had lenses that looked like the bottom of Coke bottles,’’ Sidney laments. “They were big and thick, and they were a real pain in the behind. But now, I don’t have to wear glasses at all for anything, and I absolutely love it. My vision is very sharp, and I can read or look at a computer or watch TV and see everything perfectly. It’s really the best vision I have ever had.

“My vision is so good that I wish I could have done this 10 years ago, so I’m very pleased. Dr. Emery and his staff did a wonderful job, and they’re all great people. They know what they’re doing. I recommend them to anybody.”

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


Print This Article
    • Pasadena Eye Center

      The doctors and staff of Pasadena Eye Center are dedicated to providing you with the highest quality eye care, and they offer the latest advancements in ophthalmology.... Read More

    • David E. Hall, MD

      David E. Hall, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. He graduated from the University of Mississippi and received his medical degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. He completed his internship at Erlanger Hospital and... Read More

    • Nathan R. Emery, MD

      Nathan R. Emery, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. He completed his undergraduate studies at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, before serving a two-year mission in England. Upon his return to the United States, he completed his medi... Read More

    • Dennis C. Ryczek, OD

      Dennis C. Ryczek, OD, is a Florida-certified optometrist. He attended St. Petersburg Junior College and the University of South Florida. He graduated summa cum laude with a doctorate in optometry from the University of Houston, TX, and c... Read More