January 1, 2012

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Article

Seeing is Believing

Lasik Improvements are Producing Eye-popping Results

Peri Kinder

January 1, 2012

People who undergo laser vision surgery can’t believe their eyes. With advancements in laser technology, patients report vision improvements that include brighter colors, stronger contrasts and incredible clarity.

Lasik eye surgery has been performed in the United States since the late 1990s, and laser technology has gone through a wide-ranging evolution to provide better and more accurate results.

Lasik, or Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis, is a procedure that alters the shape of the cornea, allowing common vision problems like near- or far-sightedness and astigmatism to be corrected. A high percentage of patients who undergo the surgery find their vision to be 20/20—or better.

Nearly Perfect

Dr. Darcy Wolsey is a Lasik specialist at The Eye Institute of Utah. She says the new Lasik procedures are completely blade-free, which promises defined results.

“Lasers today have improved,” Wolsey says. “Wavefront-guided Lasik gives us information that we measure from the eyes to give a more precise laser treatment. There are also lasers that use a mapping system of the eye. It’s great for irregularly-shaped eyes so you can have better control, which results in a better-shaped cornea.”

Along with the blade-free technique, the procedure produces little, or no, discomfort. The actual surgery lasts only about 15 minutes, and recovery time takes one or two days. Best of all, patients no longer need to wear glasses or contacts, and vision is enhanced nearly to the point of perfection.

“Some people do have some fear or apprehension about the procedure, but most people are shocked at how easy it is and wondered why they didn’t get it done sooner,” Wolsey says.

Laser Innovations

If a patient isn’t a good candidate for the Lasik procedure due to thin corneas, dry eyes or other problems, there is still hope. Doctors can implant a contact/collamer lens by inserting a microthin contact in front of the eye’s natural lens. This Visian ICL procedure also has a short recovery time with minimal risks. Plus, the implant blocks UV rays to help keep the eye healthy.

When people think of laser eye surgery, Lasik is usually the first thing that comes to mind, but now, even cataract removal can be done using a laser. Dr. Robert Cionni, who also practices at The Eye Institute of Utah, is a world-renowned cataract surgeon who utilizes the most advanced techniques to create the best vision for his patients. Not only does he specialize in cataract removal, Cionni designs implants and surgical techniques to improve the outcomes of these procedures.

Before the introduction of cataract laser surgery, doctors would make small incisions in the eye using a blade. But now, a femtosecond laser is used to make incisions, which provides a safer and more accurate cataract removal. This laser can also correct a patient’s astigmatism during the same procedure.

Although some doctors still use the manual cataract procedure, Cionni says more practitioners are seeing the benefits of laser cataract removal. “There was a study done that compared manual removal to laser,” he says. “It showed that patients could see better, without glasses, due to the precision of the laser.”

Most people associate cataracts with old age, but people of almost any age can have their vision obscured by cataracts. The process is so gradual, people don’t realize they’ve lost vision. If someone has vision problems that are affecting sports or work performance, driving or reading, or if there is significant glare while night driving, chances are they could benefit from cataract removal.

There is no age limit to the procedure; in fact Cionni says the oldest patient he’s worked on was 102 years old.

“When they feel that the vision has reached the point where it interferes with what they like, they should come in,” Cionni says. “The surgery is so successful, there’s really no reason to wait until it’s really interfering.”

Tips for Healthy Eyes

Schedule Regular Eye Exams: Visit your doctor for a complete exam at least once every two years.

Eat a Healthy Diet: Eating vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables can help eyes stay healthy. Also, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna, can benefit the eyes.

Don’t Smoke: Research has linked smoking to many eye ailments including macular degeneration and cataracts.

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