As featured in Florida Health Care News:
A commercial REALTOR® in the Tampa Bay area, Jane Levin’s responsibilities require her to read sales contracts and lease agreements with clarity and ease when representing her clients.
In recent years, those daily tasks became more of a challenge as Jane’s vision slowly declined.
“The numbers on the pages were increasingly blurry, more so than usual,” she shares. “I found myself struggling, even with my eyeglasses on, to see the fine print on contracts. I really can’t be struggling like that when I am representing my clients.”
Jane says she got her first pair of glasses as a young girl in elementary school.
“I thought they were horribly ugly and they made me feel ugly, so I would take them off whenever I could and hide them,” Jane recalls. “I really hated them, but I sure could tell the difference when I had them on and when I did not. There’s a huge difference when you can see the people in a room, as opposed to simply seeing their silhouettes and not being able to make out their faces. I was better off wearing them, but deep down inside, I just really hated it.”
Jane says she tried different styles and colors of eyewear over the years, but admits she always remained timid about wearing glasses.
“I tried to look at them as fashion statements, and I would purchase new frames often, but the lenses were always so thick,” Jane says.
Eventually, Jane progressed to wearing contact lenses. That helped for a while, but then Jane developed dry eyes, and the contacts caused a great deal of irritation.
“My eyes were itchy and they felt tired all the time,” Jane concedes. “My vision began to deteriorate, and driving at night became especially difficult. It seemed like my vision got so much worse almost overnight. I could not see at all like I wanted or needed to.”
Recently, Jane’s primary eye doctor advised her that replacement lens implants could provide relief for her problems. That’s when she was referred to the physicians at The Eye Institute of West Florida.
“Many people are born with less than perfect vision,” declares Robert J. Weinstock, MD, a board-certified, fellowship-trained ophthalmologist specializing in cataract, LASIK and refractive surgery at The Eye Institute of West Florida. “Jane’s eyes were perfectly healthy in terms of the structure inside of the eye, but the shape was off. This is called astigmatism, where the cornea is shaped more like an oval, rather than being round. As a result, when light hits the eye, it is not able to focus properly on the retina.
“When you have lifelong vision problems, like Jane’s, and you get to a point where you are tired of glasses, and contact lenses are no longer working well for you, then it’s the right time to consider surgical options to correct your vision,” he adds.
Shine bright like a diamond
Known as one of Tampa Bay’s premier jewelers, Julie Weintraub, owner of the Gold & Diamond Source in Clearwater, says, like most people, her eyesight is a vital part of her day-to-day activities.
“I work with customers every day, and I also do a lot of public speaking,” she explains. “If someone was more than ten feet away from me, I had a hard time seeing his or her face. Also, working with gemstones, I need to be able to see the intricate details within diamonds and other stones in order to provide the best possible service to my customers.”
Over the last few years, Julie says her declining vision was not only interfering with her work, but her social life as well. She was constantly squinting and struggling to see. She had contact lenses, but was uncomfortable wearing them for long periods of time.
“They just bothered me, never felt quite right,” she says. “So, instead of wearing contacts, I found myself taking multiple pair of glasses everywhere I went and stashing them in my purse, glove box, everywhere. At the same time, I never wanted to wear them because I did not like how I looked in glasses.
“So, at the end of the day, I was walking around with very impaired vision. Night driving was challenging, and my work was a challenge. I co-host a local television show, and I had a hard time seeing the teleprompter, which was very awkward. I knew I had to do something to address the issue.”
At her jewelry store, Julie was introduced to Neel R. Desai, MD, who is a Johns Hopkins University fellowship-trained ophthalmologist specializing in corneal diseases, cataracts, LASIK and refractive surgery at The Eye Institute of West Florida.