Vision Accomplished

Clearer days ahead after cataract surgery also remedies astigmatism.

For nearly 30 years, Wreaths Across America has devoted a day in mid-December to honor fallen military heroes by placing an evergreen Christmas wreath adorned with nothing more than a red bow at their headstones.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Janet is finally glasses-free.

When that movement finally reached Flagler County last year, it was due to an inspirational moment experienced a couple of years earlier by Janet Young, who met the daughter-in-law of the movement’s founder during a visit to Maine.

“I was so moved that after I went home I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind,” Janet remembers. “And then I thought, No one is doing this in Flagler County, so maybe I should be the one to get it going.

“I knew nothing about fundraising at the time, but last September we held a fundraiser and we made enough money to have a ceremony and lay 400 wreaths at Flagler Palms Memorial Gardens. That was on December 14, and it was a beautiful day.”

Janet, 71, spent that day alongside her future husband, Ron, an Air Force veteran who helped her organize the event. They married this past February, just as Janet was reaching her limits with a long-standing vision issue.

“My vision had been fading for a little more than a year,’’ Janet reveals. “I first noticed it when I realized I was having problems reading highway signs and license plates. I’m also a member of the Audubon Society, and I was having a hard time seeing the birds.

“When I first went to my optometrist about it, he told me he thought it might be cataracts and told me to keep an eye on it. But after that, my eyeglass prescription was changing every five months, so I knew I was on a downhill slide.”

In February, Janet’s optometrist suggested she see a specialist who could confirm his suspicion. His recommendation was that Janet visit Alexandra Kostick, MD, FACS, FRCSC, of Atlantic Eye Center in Palm Coast.

A Common Condition

A number of Janet’s friends who had already been through cataract surgery also recommended Dr. Kostick, who soon confirmed the suspicion of cataracts and also discovered that Janet was suffering from “significant astigmatism.”

Astigmatism is a common condition in which an irregularly shaped cornea – the clear front cover of the eye – causes blurred vision. Astigmatism can often be corrected during cataract surgery, though in Janet’s case it required special attention.

Wreath photo courtesy of Wreaths Across America.

Last September Janet and the local Wreaths Across America volunteers held a fundraiser and made enough money to have a ceremony and lay 400 wreaths at Flagler Palms Memorial Gardens.

“For patients such as Janet, we do extra measurements to see how much astigmatism they really have,” Dr. Kostick says. “If it’s minimal, we don’t need to worry about treating it. If it’s moderate to severe, there are a couple of different ways we can treat it.

“It’s very important that we do treat it, because a lot of people think their cataracts are the only things responsible for their blurry vision. They don’t understand there are other structures of the eye that can cause blurry vision as well.

“Whatever astigmatism is there before cataract surgery will be there after surgery if it’s not treated. And that residual astigmatism will cause blurry vision, which will then require the person to continue wearing glasses. We don’t want that.”

One treatment for astigmatism calls for a series of small incisions to be made around the edge of the cornea. These incisions relax and round out the cornea, which improves focus, but they typically work best for patients with mild to moderate astigmatism.

For Janet, Dr. Kostick chose to replace her clouded natural lenses during surgery with specially designed artificial intraocular lenses (IOL) called toric lenses that have two focusing powers, one for distance vision and one for the astigmatism.

Toric lenses are implanted during the same surgery in which the cataracts are removed. That procedure is typically performed on one eye at a time in an outpatient setting, with a break of a week or two between the surgeries to allow the first eye to heal.

During Janet’s surgery, which was delayed until May because of the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Kostick also made use of a special machine called the ORA™, which stands for Optiwave Refractive Analysis, to obtain the most accurate measurements possible of the shape of her eyes.

“The ORA fine-tunes the power and therefore narrows the selection of the intraocular lens implant,” Dr. Kostick notes. “There’s no way our pre-op measurements can compete with it, so it makes the patient’s end result much, much better.”

Exceptional Outcome

The end result for Janet was nothing short of exceptional. Prior to surgery with glasses, she was seeing 20/70 out of her left eye and 20/50 out of her right. Following surgery, without glasses, she is seeing 20/20 out of both eyes.

“Oh, she did such a phenomenal job,’’ Janet raves of Dr. Kostick. “Before cataract surgery, I could not function without glasses or contact lenses. Now I wake up in the morning and I can see everything just fine, and I don’t need glasses anymore.

“It’s like a miracle has happened because I’ve worn glasses since I was 6 years old and contact lenses since I was 16. But I don’t need them anymore, and everything is so much brighter and clearer now. Even colors are more vibrant. It’s just amazing.

“Before cataract surgery, I could not function without glasses or contact lenses. Now I wake up in the morning and I can see everything.” – Janet

“So was the experience I had with Dr. Kostick. I only have wonderful things to say about her and her staff. They’re all professional, and I love that they treat everyone like family.”

A family-like atmosphere is a big part of what Dr. Kostick strives for at Atlantic Eye Center. She is proud to be treating not just her patients’ spouses, but also their children and grandchildren.

“Our patients become part of our extended family,” Dr. Kostick asserts. “We strive to make them comfortable by creating a very caring environment. They know they are going to be treated with a personal touch whenever they come here.”

A strong reputation in the community is also something the staff at Atlantic Eye Center strives to maintain.

“I think word of mouth is very important for doctors, and we pride ourselves on the referrals we get,” Dr. Kostick adds. “I can honestly say that my staff members go out of their way to ensure that people are cared for to our utmost capability.”

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    • Atlantic Eye Center

      Flagler County’s leading female board-certified ophthalmologist, serving the county since 1996, is at Atlantic Eye Center. Benefits the center offers you include: A multi-trained and highly regarded doctor Unparalleled eye care experi... Read More

    • Alexandra Kostick, MD, FACS, FRCSC

      Alexandra Kostick, MD, FACS, FRCSC, is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. After earning her medical degree at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Dr. Kostick served a mixed surgery internship at St. Boniface Hospital at... Read More