Three in One

Revolutionary cataract replacement lens brings distance, intermediate and near vision into focus.

As his career as a commercial airline pilot moved into its third decade, Kenneth Ernst began to get some of the most sought-after route assignments in the industry, including one that took him halfway around the world.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

An avid trap shooter, Kenneth is seeing clay birds and real birds better than ever.

“It was the Los Angeles-to-Bangkok route,” Kenneth explains. “You go from LA to Honolulu and then to Tokyo, with overnight stays in each city. Then you fly from Tokyo to Seoul, South Korea, down to Manila and finally to Bangkok.

“You come home through Tokyo and Honolulu, and it’s a ten-day trip, but you get the rest of the month off. When you’ve been around a while, you not only get to fly those prime routes, you get to fly the biggest planes, and it’s a lot of fun.”

For Kenneth, that fun came to an end when he turned 60. Forced into retirement at that age by federal mandates, Kenneth grudgingly moved into a life of leisure, but it wasn’t long before he realized why those mandates are in place.

About ten years after retiring, Kenneth learned he had cataracts in both eyes. As cataracts do with most people, Kenneth’s developed slowly from a breakdown of the lens fibers, a clumping of their proteins or both, and caused a clouding of his natural lenses.

“When I was first diagnosed with cataracts, I was told by my eye doctor that I needed to have them taken out right away,” says Kenneth, 82. “But I didn’t feel as if my vision was all that bad at the time, so I just left it alone.

“Eventually, another eye doctor gave me what I thought was a good bit of advice. He said, When you get to the point where you’re struggling to read the paper in a brightly lit room, let me know. That’s when you’ll know it’s time to get the cataracts out.

“I thought that was a good guide to follow, and it took a while, but I finally got to that point late last summer. Just like the doctor said, I suddenly started having trouble reading the paper, even with my glasses. But I was having some other problems, too.

“I trap shoot at a sporting club down in Sarasota, and I started to have some trouble seeing the clay birds. Once that started, and with the trouble I was having reading the paper, I figured it was finally time to get my eyes fixed.”

Something New

The doctor who told Kenneth his cataracts would need to come out when he began struggling to read the paper is David E. Hall, MD, of Pasadena Eye Center in St. Petersburg. When those struggles began, Kenneth did what he’d long planned and returned to Dr. Hall.

“Kenneth is very farsighted, and with no glasses on, he could just barely see the top letter on the eye chart,” Dr. Hall reports. “He was better with his glasses on, of course, but because of the cataracts, he was struggling more than usual when he came back to me.

“The cataracts were causing a lot of glare, and especially at night, he was having trouble seeing. It was definitely time for those cataracts to come out, so we went ahead and planned out the surgery.”

With more than four million performed each year in the United States alone, cataract surgery has become one of the more common procedures in all of medicine. Typically completed in less than 15 minutes, it is also one of medicine’s quickest procedures.

With a break of a week or two in between, ophthalmologists typically correct one eye at a time and start by breaking up and removing the cloudy, natural lens using an ultrasonic device. Once that lens is removed, an artificial intraocular lens, or IOL, is implanted in its place.

IOLs permanently correct the vision, and they come in various forms. Standard IOLs correct vision primarily for distance, but patients can have one eye fixed for distance and the other corrected for reading, an option called monovision.

“It’s like someone has turned a light on for me, because I see everything in much sharper, greater detail than I did before.” – Kenneth

A third option is multifocal IOLs, which act like bifocals and correct vision for distance and either reading or intermediate tasks.

Also available is a revolutionary third multifocal option that works like a trifocal lens by correcting distance, reading and intermediate vision.

The new trifocal IOL is called the PanOptix® lens. It’s been available to patients in Europe for four years and to patients in Canada for two years but just recently received FDA approval for use in the United States. Dr. Hall says it’s a game-changer.

“Until now, we would fit a patient with a multifocal lens, and most patients could see perfectly at a distance and up close, but that level in between was just okay,” Dr. Hall says. “It was clear, but the focus wasn’t great, although it did get better after a year or two.

“With the new PanOptix lens, patients can see clearly at all three distances right from the very beginning. We’ve implanted this new lens in several of our patients wishing for multifocal lenses, and the results have been incredible.”

Dr. Hall notes that the PanOptix lens may not work well for every patient. He said patients suffering from macular degeneration, a corneal condition or diplopia, which is better known as double vision, are not good candidates for the PanOptix lens.

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

“It truly is one of the most exciting things happening in cataract surgery right now,” Dr. Hall adds. “And I’m so happy with the results we’re getting with it that I’m now making the PanOptix lens my lens of choice for all my patients who want multifocal IOLs.”

In keeping with that stand, Dr. Hall suggested the PanOptix lens for Kenneth, who has been wearing glasses since he was 61. Kenneth says the new PanOptix lenses have given him better vision than he ever had with glasses and that the change was immediate.

“I used to wear progressive lenses, where there’s no bifocal line, and when I started that, it took me about six weeks to get used to them,” Kenneth says. “With these new lenses, there was no adjustment. It was like I got brand new eyes.

“I’m measuring 20/25 in both eyes and not wearing glasses at all for anything. It’s like someone has turned a light on for me, because I see everything in much sharper, greater detail than I did before.”

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Christine is no longer struggling to read street signs.

No U-Turn

A former preschool and kindergarten teacher, Christine Kendall now assesses preschool teachers and the way they interact with children as an independent contractor for the Children’s Forum in Pinellas and Manatee counties.

“The Children’s Forum is a non-profit organization contracted by the state,” Christine explains. “I started doing this after I retired and moved to Florida, and I really enjoy it. I think it’s important that we do all we can for our young children.”

In between her stints in education, Christine worked as the executive director of a large chain of businesses in Boston. She and her husband moved to Florida in 2005 to escape the cold winters and because Christine, 74, loves the beach.

A little more than a year ago, while renewing her driver’s license, Christine was suddenly made aware of a problem with her vision. Because she could not tell for sure whether one of the letters in a line on an eye chart was an O or a C, she nearly failed the eye exam.

“I said O the first time I read that line on the chart, and the girl at the DMV office was very nice, because she just said, You might want to try that again,” Christine remembers. “So the second time, I said C, and she said, You got it.

Not long after her visit to the DMV, Christine began to experience similar problems while driving. In particular, she was having trouble clearly reading street signs as she searched for the schools where she was to evaluate teachers.

“I didn’t notice the problem while I was driving around locally because I know all the streets and what the speed limit is,” Christine says. “Because you know them, you don’t really pay much attention to the fact you’re not seeing them as well.

“But when I got out of town and was in another city looking for a school or whatever, I couldn’t read the signs clearly. The navigation program on my phone was telling me to turn right on Washington Street, but I couldn’t read whether it was Washington Street or not.

“It was happening a lot where I was going past the street and then the navigation system would tell me to do a U-turn and go back. For no other reason than just procrastination, I did that for almost a year before I finally decided to do something about my eyes.”

When she finally decided to address her vision problems, Christine visited the ophthalmologist she’s been visiting for eye care for several years, Nathan R. Emery, MD, at Pasadena Eye Center.

“It was last fall when Christine came to me again, and her complaints were typical of patients with cataracts,” Dr. Emery says. “Over time she began to need more light in order to see things, and driving at night was becoming difficult for her.

“She told me about the problems she was having reading street signs, even during the day. That and some of the other symptoms she was experiencing were really starting to impact her ability to do things the way she was comfortable doing them.”

All In

During a thorough examination, Dr. Emery confirmed his belief regarding the cause of Christine’s vision problems. The issue was cataracts in both eyes, and they were mature enough that surgery was the best option to alleviate the symptoms.

The only question that remained was how best to improve Christine’s vision. As Dr. Hall did with Kenneth, Dr. Emery introduced Christine to the new PanOptix lens and suggested she get them. With the hope of never having to wear glasses again, Christine agreed.

“When Dr. Emery told me I wouldn’t need to wear glasses again and that I would be able to see far away, up close and anywhere in between perfectly, I said, Okay, I’m going for that,” Christine remembers.

“It’s incredible how they can do this surgery and give someone back the eyesight they had as a child.” – Christine

Like Kenneth and most patients, Christine had surgery on one eye and came back a week later for surgery on the second eye. When she returned a week after the second surgery for a follow-up visit, the habit of wearing glasses to read had already been broken.

“I was sitting in the waiting room, waiting for my appointment and looking through a magazine, and it wasn’t until I went in to see the doctor and he asked me how my vision was that I realized I’d been reading that magazine without glasses,” Christine remembers.

“I said to him, You know, I just realized that I was reading that magazine without glasses, so I’d say my vision is excellent. And as for my distance vision, well, I have a rather funny story to tell you about that.

“I was thinking my distance vision would be just what it always was, but one day, not long after I had the second surgery, I was standing in my kitchen looking out the window, and I could see two condos away that the man there was watching the same TV show we were.

“Before I had the surgery, I didn’t even know someone was there. Now, here I am, looking all the way into his condo and seeing what he’s watching on TV. After that, I figured I’d better go introduce myself and say hello because I didn’t even know he was there before.”

Highly Recommended

With her vastly improved vision, Christine is no longer struggling to see the street signs as she looks for new schools. For that, she says, she can thank Dr. Emery and the staff at Pasadena Eye Center.

“They’re all just wonderful people,” Christine raves. “I tell anyone who needs to have cataract surgery to go to Pasadena Eye Center and see Dr. Emery, because the care and expertise he and his staff provide are superb.

“It’s incredible how they can do this surgery and give someone back the eyesight they had as a child. It’s great, and the doctors and staff are all so caring. I love everybody there for what they’ve done for me.”

Like Christine with Dr. Emery, Kenneth has long been a patient of Dr. Hall’s. But he’s not the only member of his family to be a patient of Pasadena Eye Center. Because of its exceptional care, several family members have been visiting the clinic for years.

“I’m what you might refer to as a legacy patient,” Kenneth says with a chuckle. “My wife went to see Dr. Hall, and both of my in-laws went to Pasadena Eye Center before that. And now, I’m recommending it to friends of mine.

“Some of the fellows I shoot with have been there and have had positive results as well. Everyone there is so professional and so good at what they do. They have their own surgery center, and other ophthalmologists use it because it’s so sophisticated.

“And as far as the surgery itself goes, it was an absolute non-event. As operations go, it was almost pleasant, if you can say that about an operation. It was so easy, and the outcome was great, so I have and will continue to recommend Pasadena Eye Center.”

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    • 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