Cataract patient first to get latest lens implant technology in SWFL

A new implant is helping people in Southwest Florida see clearer and regain their quality of life.

We got a first look at the revolutionary device, the PanOptix Intraocular Lens. The Food and Drug Administration approved this new trifocal lens recently, and we got an exclusive interview with the first patient to receive it in Southwest Florida.

Monika Bartsch has cataracts, and she received the implant surgery from ophthalmologist Dr. Jonathan Frantz, both now the first patient and surgeon to be part of the procedure with this new technology in Southwest Florida.

Bartsch said she has worn glasses for 54 years. But her cataracts progressed.

“It was getting scary,” Bartsch said. “My eyes were so blurry that my glasses weren’t keeping up with seeing anymore.”

And it impeded on Bartsch’s quality of life.

“I was getting more and more afraid of driving,” Bartsch said.

Bartsch was unable to see on the side of the road or much of anything at night.

“I needed to find help,” Bartsch said.

That’s where ophthalmologist Dr. Frantz comes into the picture. Frantz now holds the distinction of being the first surgeon in Southwest Florida to implant the PanOptix lens.

“When you turn 40, you start needing reading glasses,” Frantz said. “The average age of somebody having cataract surgery is 73.”

Fortunately, the new lens technology helps Frantz’s patients see clearly again.

“This lens implant is the first one that gives us all three ranges of vision,” Frantz said.

This means vision comes into focus up close, far away and in between.

Whereas before, you were limited to near and far.

“Ninety-five percent of people who get this implant no longer need glasses for anything,” Frantz said.

But it’s not cheap. Frantz told us the operation to get the implant runs patients roughly between $3,000 to $4,000 per eye in addition to what insurance will cover. And insurance companies consider the operation a cosmetic procedure, since patients usually can get by with glasses instead.

Dr. Frantz told us there is a risk of vision loss with the procedure, but that risk is very low. He also said though it’s new to the U.S., the new tech has been used in more than 70 countries for the last five years overseas.

As for Bartsch, she said the investment is well worth it.

“I saw the alarm clock without having to put glasses on,” Bartsch said. “That’s a great feeling.”

Reporter:Channing Frampton
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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