Making Great Vision Part of Your Aging Strategy

Two out of three American adults report having vision problems according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, however, only one in eight seek help or get regular eye exams.

There are a number of reasons most people do not get help. According to Dr. Thomas Quigley, board certified ophthalmologist, world-renowned cataract surgeon and founder of Quigley Eye Specialists, changes in vision are often so gradual that a patient isn’t always aware how bad their eyesight has become.

Dr. Quigley says, “It can get to a point where one’s vision becomes debilitating, but the individual thinks he or she is seeing fine. I see it all the time.”

Other patients do not seek help as they may be fearful, but experts say that detecting issues early is always in the patients’ best interest, which is why Quigley Eye Specialists advises patients to get an annual eye exam, or even more frequently, if recommended by their doctor.

One of the most common issues an aging adult will face are cataracts. Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over 40 and the principal cause of blindness in the world. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which is a normal part of the aging process. Most people choose to have cataracts treated in their mid-60s, but this age can range from early 50s to 80s, depending on genetic and environmental factors.

A cataract starts out small and at first has little effect on your vision. You may notice your vision is blurred a little, like looking through a cloudy window. As it progresses, Dr. Quigley explains other symptoms may include, “Glare from headlights, like a halo effect or star burst, a gradual dulling of colors, and in some cases a frequent need to change your glasses prescription.”

Even patients who know they have cataracts may not seek help as result of fear. Dr. Quigley explains, “Until patients learn that cataract surgery is a common and painless outpatient procedure, they may have some fear. We are here to take the time with patients to explain everything in detail, so they are as educated as possible.”

The outpatient procedure is brief and painless. Quigley Eye Specialists performs cataract surgery under IV sedation. Dr. Quigley explains, “We make it comfortable for patients. Patients sleep through the procedure and when they wake up, they are often surprised how easy it was.” Patients are able to resume normal activities the next day, and within a week, the eye is completely healed.

Dr. Quigley as well as all other surgeons at Quigley Eye Specialists, operate out of St. John’s Surgery Center, a facility dedicated solely to eye care with a highly trained staff attuned to all things eyes. This is one reason the complication rates here are among the lowest in the country.

An AAAHC accredited facility, St. John’s facilitates more eye procedures than any other surgical center in Southwest Florida, and it’s one among the top in the state.

St John’s Administrator Cheri Smith says, “I’ve worked at other surgery centers, and we are very fortunate at St. John’s to be so well staffed that we can offer more personalize care to patients. We have several nurses in pre-op and one-on-one care in post-op which is rare.”

The center also has the latest technology including computer-assisted and laser-assisted cataract surgery. This is important if the patient chooses to replace their cloudy lens with a premium implant, such as the Symfony® lens or another SmartLens®.

Dr. Quigley was the first ophthalmologist in Southwest Florida to implant the Symfony lens and one of the first surgeons in the US.

The Symfony lens is considered an elective lens and not covered by insurance, as it allows patients to see well without glasses at a distance and arm’s length. Other lens options include the monofocal lens and multi-focal lenses.

Which lens is best for you? According to Dr. Quigley, it depends upon the health of your eyes, lifestyle and vision goals. SmartLens procedures allow Quigley Eye Specialists to personalize the post-surgical vision to suit a patient’s lifestyle and provide a fuller range of vision without glasses – similar to what the patient might have enjoyed at a much younger age.

Dr. Quigley explains, “With SmartLens procedures, we can use a laser to assist and confirm the position of the premium implant so that a patient can have their best possible vision. The patient can see distance, intermediate or up close, with less dependency on glasses, if that is important to the patient.”

With a monofocal lens implant or basic cataract procedure, even though the cataract has been removed, patients will still need to wear glasses. Insurance covers the cost of a standard monofocal lens.

Choosing the right lens is part of the personal care patients receive at Quigley Eye Centers. The doctors help determine the best lens for a patient’s needs and lifestyle. Some lenses are so advanced they can take up to 25 days to make.

A reminder that just because a cataract has been detected it doesn’t mean a patient is in immediate need of surgery. The cataract should be a certain density for surgery, however, if left untreated could result in glaucoma.

According to those with first-hand experience, Quigley Eye Specialists provides patients with a warm and caring experience. They also offer transportation to the surgical center for patients who need it. The celebrated surgeon explains, “In any organization you have a certain culture. Ours is treating patients like guests in our home, making sure they have a great experience, along with offering the best technology for the best outcome possible.”

Dr. Quigley grew up in a small town in Mississippi, the son of a general medical practitioner. He and wife Renee have a blended family of five children; Victoria, Erica, Tommy, Emily, and Zachary, and the numbers continue to grow. The couple now has two beautiful grandchildren, Sunny and Levi. Dr. Quigley and Renee are avid travelers and enjoy visiting their extended family located throughout the country. While both share a love for ophthalmology, they also enjoy hiking, gardening, and relaxing with a good book. Self-proclaimed foodies, they are always searching for the best local cuisine, whether it’s in Southwest Florida or in their travels. As a couple, the Quigley’s also prepare healthy meals together at home and are committed to a lifestyle of fitness.