We live in a digital age where seemingly any desire we wish to be fulfilled is done so with the click of a button. Want someone to pick up food from your favorite restaurant and bring it to your doorstep? There’s an app for that. Perhaps you’d like to find a fitness routine tailored to your body type and lifestyle? There’s an app for that. Looking for love? Yep, there’s an app for that. Like it or not, technology has revolutionized every aspect of our lives and the way we view the world, literally.
We depend on our eyesight from the moment we wake up until the moment we fall asleep. We’re so dependent on our vision that we rarely actually think about it, unless given a reason. A common reason: glasses.
The Eye Institute of West Florida has been providing the highest level of visual care in the Tampa Bay area for over 40 years and offers solutions to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses to see well at any age.
The most common procedure to correct farsightedness is LASIK; however, this is not the best option for patients over the age of 40, as they begin to develop presbyopia. Presbyopia occurs when the eye’s lens begins to harden, losing the flexibility we enjoy in younger years. Early signs of presbyopia are eyestrain, difficulty seeing well in dim light and trouble focusing on small objects or fine print. During LASIK, a laser is used to reshape the cornea, but this does not address the hardening lens, which is located behind iris.
As this patient has not yet developed cataracts, cataract surgery is not the best option either. However, a procedure called Clear Lens Exchange (or Lens Replacement Surgery) offers patients between the age of 40-60 a way of reducing or eliminating their need for glasses while simultaneously relieving them of the need for surgery years down the road.
Robert Weinstock, MD, Director of Cataract and Refractive Services at The Eye Institute explains that, “Clear Lens Exchange is the best option for a patient in their 40s, 50s or even 60s [if they haven’t developed cataracts] to become glasses-free. The procedure itself is the exact same as cataract surgery, which means it’s roughly a 5-minute outpatient procedure where we remove the natural lens in the eye and replace it with a new, clear lens. As with cataract surgery, The Eye Institute also has the technology available to correct astigmatism (when the cornea is irregularly shaped, distorting vision) during the procedure.”
Along with eliminating the need for glasses, a key benefit of Clear Lens Exchange is enjoying good, uncorrected vision for a longer period of time. Dr. Weinstock continues, “Once a patient develops cataracts, they will inevitably need cataract surgery. This may occur in their 60s, 70s, 80s, or beyond. When a patient undergoes Clear Lens Exchange, we’re preemptively removing their natural lens, so they will never develop cataracts and therefor never need to undergo cataract surgery. This allows them to enjoy clear vision without glasses or contact lenses for a much longer period of time, drastically improve numerous aspects of our life.”
For patients who have already developed cataracts, the customizable options to become dependent of glasses are seemingly endless. A cataract occurs when the eye’s crystalline lens begins to cloud. Similar to presbyopia, developing cataracts is an inevitable part of the aging process. Symptoms typically include difficulty reading, colors appearing less vibrant and trouble seeing well while driving at night.
20 years ago, cataract surgery was a fairly big undertaking and left patients relying on “Coke bottle” glasses to see anything. Today, it is the safest surgical procedure available and frequently allows patients to experience better vision than they ever had.
“Cataract surgery today is night and day compared to what our parents and grandparents underwent,” Dr. Weinstock compares, “The procedure can be completely bladeless, making it safer and more precise, we have lasers to break up the cataract and reshape the cornea if needed as well as different lenses available to suit each patient’s individual need and visual goals.”
When initially researching the different Intraocular Lenses (IOLs) available, it can seem overwhelming. Toric IOLs to correct astigmatism and nearsightedness or farsightedness, Accommodating IOLs to correct distance vision while also providing more near vision than a conventional monofocal lens, Multifocal IOLs to correct your vision at every range, the list goes on.
Dr. Weinstock’s approach is to get to know each patient and learn about their lifestyle and what their visual goals are, rather than discussing the numerous lens options that are available. “Once I understand what a patient enjoys doing most – reading, using the computer, playing golf, etc. – and combine that with the different tests we perform to check the health of a patient’s eyes, I am able to recommend the best option for them. It’s a decision we make together, but it’s essential that I understand their lifestyle because often times the lens a patient comes in wanting won’t yield the results they are hoping for,” Dr. Weinstock elaborates.
Relying on glasses is a nuisance at any age, but as Dr. Weinstock stresses, “the important thing is that patients know that there are options to get out of glasses, no matter what their age is. From there, it’s our job to uncover which option is best for them.”