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After Occlusion Leads To Cataracts, A Common Surgery Restores Clear Vision

Cat yoga still hasn’t caught on in quite the same way that goat yoga has, but there’s no blaming Judy Molinaro for that. After all, this one-time yoga instructor once did her best to make the feline version a thing. 

“I was trying to raise funds for a local humane society,” Judy explains. “There was a cat cafe near there where you could have your coffee and they had a bunch of cats running around, and I thought, Why not hold a cat yoga class there? 

“So, I set it all up, and it went really well. The room was sold out, and we raised some money for the animal shelter, but the cat yoga thing didn’t take off like goat yoga. I think the quirkiness of it is probably why goat yoga became so popular. It’s just different.” 

Not long after holding that cat yoga class, Judy took on a different job. She now works for a medical marketing company in Massachusetts. Shortly after taking that job, she woke up one morning with virtually no vision in her right eye. 

A trip to her eye doctor led her to a retina specialist, who diagnosed a retinal vein occlusion, a blockage in the small veins that carry blood from the retina. 

The retina is the nerve layer that lines the back of the eye, senses light and creates impulses that travel through the optic nerve to the brain. 

Most often caused by atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, a retinal vein occlusion has no cure. However, the impact can be managed through periodic injections of a medication into the eye. 

The injections are not as dreadful as one might suspect, Judy assures, but they do increase the likelihood of the patient developing cataracts, which is a clouding of vision due to a buildup of proteins clumping on the lens. 

Prior to cataract surgery, Judy’s vision in her right eye was 20/400. She could
barely make out the big E on an eye chart. Now, the vision in that eye is 20/25.

Judy, 63, recently discovered that she had developed the condition in her right eye. 

“I was just starting to turn the corner with the eye injections in terms of getting my vision back when, all of a sudden, my vision became very blurry and colors were very faded,” Judy recalls. “When I asked the retina specialist about it, he said, You’ve developed a cataract.” 

The only remedy for cataracts is a surgical procedure in which the affected lens is removed and replaced with a synthetic intraocular lens, or IOL. 

Judy entrusted that task to ophthalmic surgeon Alexandra Kostick, MD, FACS, FRCSC, of Atlantic Eye Center. 

“I’ve known Dr. Kostick for several years because she and her mother used to attend my yoga classes,” Judy informs. “We’ve always stayed in touch, though, even after I moved away, so I reached out to her for advice after I learned about the retinal vein occlusion. 

“I did the same after I learned that I had developed a cataract as a result of the vein occlusion. This time, I asked her about doing my cataract surgery because I didn’t want anyone other than Dr. Kostick to take care of it for me.” 

Outpatient Procedure 

Recognized as one of the most accomplished surgeons in the field, Dr. Kostick soon verified the presence of a well-developed cataract in Judy’s right eye and recommended surgery. 

The outpatient procedure is one of the more common in medicine, performed more than 4 million times each year in the US alone. In cases where the patient has cataracts in both eyes, it is typically performed on one eye at a time, with a break of a week or two between each procedure. 

Prior to surgery, the patient’s lifestyle and vision goals are discussed with the doctor. That leads to a conversation regarding which of the various IOLs will help the patient achieve those goals. 

Like contact lenses, intraocular lenses are available in many focusing powers. 

Standard IOLs typically correct distance vision, while multifocal IOLs can correct distance and near vision in much the same way as bifocal glasses or contact lenses. 

The most advanced IOL yet is a trifocal called the PanOptix®, which corrects distance, intermediate and near vision. The PanOptix has become Dr. Kostick’s “IOL of choice” for patients wanting a multifocal lens, but Judy was not able to receive such a lens. 

“Because neither of us were certain how much vision Judy was going to get back in the right eye through her treatment for the vein occlusion, we opted to go with a monofocal lens that corrected only distance vision,” Dr. Kostick reports. 

“And the outcome could not have been better. When Judy first came to me this year, her vision in that right eye was 20/400. She could barely make out the big E on the eye chart. Now, after successful cataract surgery, her vision in that right eye is 20/25.” 

A-Plus Outcome 

Dr. Kostick won’t take all the credit for what she refers to as an “A-plus outcome.” She says the treatments Judy has been receiving for the retinal vein occlusion helped. So did Judy’s compliance with her pre- and postoperative care instructions. 

“Judy was an extremely cooperative patient who followed my instructions to a T,” Dr. Kostick confirms. “She was very compliant, and that really is one of the keys to a successful outcome.” 

Judy is just as pleased. She says colors have regained their vibrancy and that she can now see better from a distance than she has in years. There’s just one issue. 

“Now I have a cataract developing in my left eye,” she laments. “But I won’t have to think twice about who I will go to for that if it gets to the point where I need to have it taken out. I’ll be going right back to Dr. Kostick because she’s an exceptional doctor. 

“She’s very professional, very detailed, and she was very reassuring throughout the entire process. She made me feel very comfortable and confident going into the surgery. And her staff is absolutely wonderful. They treat you like you’re part of their family.” 

A family-like atmosphere is something Dr. Kostick strives to create at Atlantic Eye Center, where she proudly treats many of her patients’ mothers, fathers, spouses, 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.” 

The Atlantic Eye Center staff strives to maintain a strong reputation in the community as well. 

“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.” 

Alexandra Kostick, MD, FACS, FRCSC

Featured in After Occlusion Leads To Cataracts, A Common Surgery Restores Clear Vision

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