New Sight for Sore Eyes
Improve your vision with eye surgery options
By Elizabeth Anthony
Good vision is one of the most important assets we have as we go throughout our daily tasks. Every day we experience the world through our eyes – from checking labels in the grocery store and looking at street signs as we drive to watching football games at the local high school. Some people are fortunate enough to have 20/20 peepers, but many of us need glasses or contacts to help bring clarity to the world around us.
Upon waking, we fumble for glasses, put in contacts or address long-wear contact lens issues before stumbling toward the kitchen to make the morning’s first cup of coffee. Needing vision correction in just one area, I personally am in constant search throughout the day for the glasses I just laid down somewhere. Although wearing contact lenses is handier, there are special concerns involved, like the risk of serious eye infections.
In this rapidly developing age of technology, we have more options in all aspects of our lives than ever before. Modern science has created new ways of taking care of health issues, making for a more enjoyable, healthy day-to-day existence. For vision clarity, two of the most exciting breakthroughs have been laser eye surgery and lens implants. Here is the scoop on the latest developments in the field of ophthalmology.
What is Laser Eye Surgery?
While traditional vision correction focuses on external means, laser eye surgery actually improves the refractive state of the eye by remolding the cornea. Used to treat common vision disorders such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism, it can eliminate the need for glasses and contact lenses.
When asked what portion of the population would actually benefit from having the surgery performed, Brian Wright, M.D, of the Mann Eye Institute, states, “Lasik vision correction is one of the most common elective procedures in the United States today. With the current level of technology, we can offer an all-laser approach tailored to each patient’s unique vision, leading to more predictable results and increased patient satisfaction.”
What is the Technology Behind Laser Eye Surgery?
Dramatic advancements have taken place over the last 20 years in the development of new technologies used to perform laser eye surgery. People once told they would never qualify are now able to have lasik surgery or similar procedures performed. At the core lies the development of the Excimer Laser designed to modify the curvature of the cornea. With the development of the Wavefront technology, doctors can now measure not only the prescription of your eyes, but individual Wavefront aberrations as well. Clinical studies have shown that 20/20 vision occurs in 98 percent of patients with many obtaining even better results than this.
With the development of bladeless technology, risks, downtime and pain associated with lasik eye surgery have substantially lessened and even more patients are able to consider the life-changing results for themselves. When asked what he thought has been the most important technology developed recently in relation to laser eye surgery, Dr. Wright underscored the importance of the bladeless technique, “Certainly the advent of the femtosecond laser to create the corneal flap has been revolutionary for lasik. Rather than using a blade, this allows us to create the corneal flap with a laser, increasing accuracy during the procedure.”
What is an Implantable Multifocal Intraocular Lens?
Another exciting development in the field of ophthalmology is the various types of multifocal intraocular lenses, or IOLs, available for eye implantation. Providing a wide range of vision correction, typical implantation of an IOL is
following cataract surgery, but, for clarification, non-cataract patients may choose to have this procedure performed as well to correct age-related presbyopia, or “over-40 vision.”
As we begin to age, cataracts cause the lens of our eye to become cloudy, making it difficult for light to focus and resulting in a haziness of vision. Upon removal of a cataract, the eye is no longer able to focus light and the natural lens must be replaced. In the past, the replacement was a fixed monofocal lens which provided limited vision correction, requiring the use of glasses or contacts. Developing technology has provided the option of replacing the lens with a multifocal IOL. Implanted inside the eye, it remains in place indefinitely, and the recipient is often able to reduce or even eliminate the need for glasses or contacts in daily activities and hobbies.
What Types of Intraocular Lens Implants are Available?
The variety of IOL implants available today provides a wide range of vision correction. Multifocal implantable lenses include the Crystalens, the ReSTOR lens and the Tecnis lens. These technologies use either the muscles of the eye or in some cases light refractive technology to shift focus on objects from near to far, allowing the eye to accommodate. It is a great option for patients not wanting to use bifocals or trifocals because it is designed to treat presbyopia, a condition that causes us to lose our near vision.
Toric IOL implants were developed to treat not only presbyopia but astigmatism, which occurs when the cornea is not perfectly round, as well. The AcrySof Toric implant is made of a special pliable acrylic material and has the added benefit of protecting your eye from UV blue light which can damage the retina.
Patient satisfaction after Multifocal IOL implants is high. Mike Mann, M.D., founder of Mann Eye Institute, reports, “Many of our IOL patients become so excited with the freedom they gain through the multifocal IOL procedures, which we call our Active Life Lens Procedures. We want to help patients enjoy the vision of their youth, and the Active Life Lens procedures allow us to do this.”
What about Laser Cataract Procedures?
The most recent advance in cataract surgery is the introduction of the femtosecond laser for cataracts. The OptiMedica Catalys Precision Laser System is a noninvasive laser technology that replaces the need for a manually held surgical blade in several key steps of the cataract procedure. The Catalys uses a combination of femtosecond laser pulses, pattern scanning recognition software and real-time 3D imaging guidance. The laser itself allows for even greater consistency over the most challenging aspects of cataract surgery: making the corneal incision, fragmenting and removing the old lens, and performing an anterior capsulotomy, an incision that opens the capsule that covers the lens.
“We are excited to offer laser cataract surgery to our patients,” said Dr. Paul Mann. “Catalys represents what we believe will become the gold standard in cataract surgery and is the type of innovative procedure our patients have come to expect.”
What Should I Consider if Planning a Laser Eye Surgery or Implant Procedure?
The most important thing to consider if you are planning to have any type of eye surgery is choosing a good doctor. Ophthalmologists should be trained in the field of the surgery you are having performed and board accredited. Keep in mind that your doctor will be screening you thoroughly for candidacy. It is important that you completely understand and follow all pre- and post-operational instructions given to you at the consultation. Lastly, good patient/doctor rapport is key. Having all your questions answered effectively and knowing that you are in good hands will give you peace of mind and help allay any fears you may have in the journey for clarity of vision.
The average cost of cataract surgery is typically between $3,000-5,000 per eye, depending on the procedure and certain other variables. Insurance and Medicare may help defray some costs depending on your provider. Monofocal lenses are typically covered, but more advanced lenses are not.
The average cost of laser eye surgery is typically between $2,000-$3,000 per eye, incorporating all-laser technologies and WaveFront mapping. Other variables also affect cost. Laser surgery to improve vision is generally considered elective and therefore not covered by insurance or Medicare.
Most patients report virtually no pain during cataract surgery and laser surgery, and they describe the sensation as a slight pressure. With the exception of swimming, which may resume in two weeks, normal activities may be resumed as soon as the day following surgery.
No matter how you view it, your vision affects the quality of your life. For more information on these or other procedures and the latest technology available to improve your eyesight, contact your vision specialist.