Clean Cuts with Femtosecond Lasers

Femtosecond is a measurement. In fact, one femtosecond (FS) is equal to one billionth of one millionth of a second. When a high repetition laser rate is used, eye surgeons can create smoother corneal flaps during LASIK surgery, making femtosecond lasers the preferred choice of ophthalmologists in your area. These higher pulse lasers are one of the most exciting technologies made available to ophthalmologists in many years. Eye surgeons have only scratched the surface with the possible uses of femtosecond lasers.

Using the Femtosecond Laser

With this particular laser, ophthalmologists can precisely cut tissue with virtually no heat development. By emitting ultra-short laser pulses with a diameter of 0.001mm at one-billionth of a second (10-15 sec), the femtosecond laser produces laser pulses that create a small gas bubble that separates the tissue. Ophthalmologists use the femtosecond laser in three types of eye surgeries:

  • Incisions in the interior of the cornea
  • Flap preparation in LASIK surgeries
  • Preparation of corneal tunnels for intra-corneal ring segment (ICRS) implantation

Advantages of the Femtosecond Laser

The femtosecond laser has many advantages over mechanical techniques, but most notably the laser does the following:

  • Improves patient comfort
  • Produces better visual outcomes
  • Reduces certain LASIK risks of infection and healing problems

Choosing an Eye Surgeon that Uses the Femtosecond Laser

Using a metal blade for cutting the corneal flap during LASIK surgery versus using bladeless techniques gives ophthalmologists a way to offer a much safer and more predictable outcome for patients. However, not all eye surgeons use the femtosecond laser, due to cost. So if you want to have the best in eye care as you consider LASIK, please choose a LASIK surgeon in your area that offers the femtosecond laser technology.

The Cornea

The cornea is more than just a clear casing for the rest of you eyeball. It is responsible for about 60% of the focusing your eye must do in order to see clearly. A misshapen cornea is the cause of nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism.

As you may have guessed from the above, the cornea is the clear front surface of your eye. It covers the entire front of your eye and is attached to the white of your eye and the iris. It is fixed in its curvature, meaning it does not change shape while performing its focusing duties.

The cornea has three layers:

  • The epithelium is the outer layer. It is very thin and the cells are constantly being replaced. It heals quickly. The epithelium contains nerve endings. This is why the eye is so easily irritated when something touches it, but serves as a protective measure to make you instinctively avoid doing things that could scratch your cornea and damage your vision.
  • The stroma makes up about 90% of the thickness of the cornea. It gives the cornea its strength and maintains its shape. The stroma is the part of the cornea that is reshaped during LASIK surgery.
  • The endothelium is a layer of cells that pump excess water out of the cornea. It is the inner lining of the cornea.

Laser vision correction reshapes the cornea to correct refractive errors.

Please contact a qualified LASIK surgeon in your area to learn more about the cornea, refractive errors, and their solutions today.

Presbyopia

Whether you are nearsighted, farsighted, or have always had perfect vision, you may notice that as you get older your vision is giving you some trouble. Presbyopia begins to affect most people as they approach middle age. It is the gradual loss of near vision, and the reason why people develop the need for reading glasses or bifocals later in life.

Recognizing Presbyopia
Presbyopia is subtle at first, and you may not even realize you are having a vision problem. Typically it starts with having to hold books and magazines a little farther away from your face to see the words clearly. You may not even notice doing it.

For some, eyestrain and headaches are the first noticeable symptoms. If you sew, you may be having more difficulty threading your needles. When you look around everything seems fine, so you may think you just need to adjust the lighting a bit. For a while, that even seems to work.

What is Presbyopia?
Presbyopia is a problem with accommodation. When light passes into your eye it is bent, or refracted, first by the cornea. Then the focus is fine tuned by the lens. The lens changes shape, making the small adjustments needed to see fine details clearly. This is called accommodation.

With age, the lens begins to lose its ability to perform accommodation, making close objects and fine details blurry.

Treating Presbyopia
The most common way of dealing with presbyopia is to wear reading glasses, bifocals, or trifocals. Since it is progressive, stronger magnification will be needed over the years to see clearly.

Monovision LASIK surgery can be used to correct one eye for near vision while the other eye is corrected for far vision, or left alone if distance vision is not a problem for you.

The lens of your eye can be replaced with an artificial lens, called an Intraocular Lens (IOL). This is also how cataracts are treated, and both problems can be corrected in one surgery.

Presbyopia is the most common of age-related vision problems, and there are solutions. Please talk to an ophthalmologist in your area today to find out how your near vision can be restored.

Other Eye Conditions

There are many conditions of the eye that range in seriousness from merely annoying to potentially blinding. Some affect your candidacy for LASIK and other refractive procedures.

Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer vision syndrome is a common problem, but it is avoidable. It is not generally dangerous, but it can cause headaches, eyestrain, and may cause your vision to deteriorate.

Floaters and Flashes
Floaters and flashes are very common. Most of the time, they do not significantly affect your vision and do not require treatment. However, in some cases they are a symptom of a retinal tear or detachment, both of which are medical emergencies and can rob you of your sight if left untreated.

Ocular Herpes
Ocular herpes is caused by Type 1 Herpes Simplex Virus, the same type of herpes that causes cold sores. You can get ocular herpes from close contact with someone with the virus or if you already have the virus in your body.

When herpes infects the eye it can cause corneal scarring. In some cases the scarring can damage vision to the point that a corneal transplant is required.

Eye infections
Eye infections can be caused by bacteria, a virus, or fungus. There are many types of eye infections. Most eye infections do not pose a threat to your vision if treated quickly. Ignoring an eye infection, however, can lead to vision loss.

Of course, you should not undergo eye surgery with an active eye infection.

These are just a few eye conditions and diseases that may affect you and your family. Many minor and dangerous eye conditions can share the same symptoms. You should never assume that your symptoms are not important.

If you have experienced any changes in your vision or other symptoms of an eye condition, please contact an ophthalmologist in your area and schedule an appointment today.

LASIK Costs

For some patients LASIK surgery will pay for itself in a few years in money saved on corrective lenses and their accompanying expenses. It can also pay for itself in time saved on looking for lost glasses, caring for contact lenses, and other activities and hassles associated with corrective lenses, not to mention the improvement in quality of life. For some, it can open up career opportunities or simply the ability to legally drive a vehicle and live independently. Evaluating LASIK costs vs. LASIK value is highly individual and complex.

Understanding LASIK Pricing
First and foremost, you must ask questions. Different doctors quote LASIK costs in different ways, but nearly all will refer to the cost per eye.

The quoted cost per eye may not include all fees and you can wind up with a bill that is as much as three times higher than you expected. By asking your ophthalmologist what is included in the price and, more importantly, what is not included you will get a much better idea of what to expect.

Do not be afraid to be direct with your questions. Tell them you need to know about every possible related expense.

Discounts
Discounts have to be considered on a case-by-case basis, but, in general, you should be very leery of low-cost offers for LASIK surgery. Some LASIK centers cut costs by cutting corners on safety and quality.

Others may pull a bait-and-switch, luring patients in with a low-priced offer, but leaving most of the fees out of the price they quote you (see above) or failing to explain that your unique circumstances will be more expensive. LASIK costs can vary by thousands of dollars depending on your personal needs. Your eye doctor cannot give you a close estimate before examining your eyes, period.

Please contact a qualified LASIK surgeon in your area today to find out if laser vision correction is a cost-effective choice for you.

LASIK and the FDA

It can be difficult to wrap your mind around the role that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays regarding LASIK surgery. Right now it is investigating LASIK by studying post-LASIK quality of life. The FDA does not regulate the procedure, but does have some authority over the devices that are used in the surgery. The ultimate goal of the investigation is to improve the safety and efficacy of the lasers used in LASIK surgery.

Warning Letters to Surgical Centers
You may have heard about the warning letters that the FDA issued to 17 LASIK surgical centers after it inspected the facilities. No problems were found with their use of LASIK devices. The warnings were for failing to have the proper system in place for reporting adverse events.

What FDA Approval Means
The FDA cannot tell doctors how to take care of their patients. Doctors are free to use devices that have not been approved by the FDA. FDA approval of a device, or lack thereof, can be a good guideline for doctors and certainly improves sales for device makers, because it confirms a certain level of safety and efficacy.

Services the FDA Provides
The FDA can monitor the safety of medical devices. It can issue warnings when the safety is questionable or when risks have been identified. It can even request recalls of dangerous devices.

To keep up-to-date on the latest developments in laser vision correction, please talk to a qualified ophthalmologist in your area today.

Iris and Pupil

The iris is the colored part of your eye. It is what people usually notice the most. Your irises are as unique and identifying as fingerprints. The pupil is the hole in the center of the iris. It appears black, but it is really empty space. The pupil allows light to pass through the lens and onto the retina. The iris is comprised of two muscles that widen and narrow this hole to control the amount of light that enters.

The iris does not focus light, but it does control how much light enters your eye which can be just as important. In brighter light the sphincter muscle contracts making the pupil small. In dim light another muscle, called the dilator muscle, opens up the pupil.

When your eye doctor dilates your eyes, he uses special medicated drops that cause the pupil to open very wide. This allows him to look at the inner parts of your eye.

People whose pupils are very large when fully dilated do not make good candidates for LASIK surgery. If the corrected area of the cornea does not fully cover the pupil, part, but not all, of the light that passes through will be refracted improperly causing a distortion in vision.

The subject of eye color is fascinating and complex in itself. Genetics play the main role in determining eye color, but even that is not simple or fully understood. Exposure to light in infancy darkens the melanin in your eyes, like getting a suntan. Some babies are born with blue eyes that gradually turn brown. This happens with kittens, too. A few people experience changes in eye color later in their lives. It is also possible to have two different colored eyes or even more than one color in the same iris.

You can learn more about the iris, pupil, and other structures of the eye from your eye doctor. Please contact an ophthalmologist in your area today to schedule an appointment.

How the Eyes Work

The eyes are absolutely remarkable in how they work. Seeing clearly requires such a perfect combination of circumstances, it is a wonder that so many people see as well as they do and that the majority of vision problems are simple refractive errors. Here are the basics of how the eyes work.

The Basics

  • Light passes through the cornea. The cornea bends (refracts) the light as it passes through. This accomplishes about 60% of focusing.
  • The iris responds to light levels, adjusting the size of the pupil which is the opening for light to pass deeper into the eye.
  • Light passes through the pupil and to the lens.
  • Muscles in the eye change the shape of the lens as needed to adjust the finer focus of the light. This is called accommodation.
  • The light passes through the lens landing on the retina. When all goes well, this light is focused on the retina for a clear image.
  • The retinal cells detect the light and convert the light energy to nerve energy.
  • Nerve fibers connected to each photosensitive cell in the retina pick up the energy. These fibers converge in the optic nerve.
  • The optic nerve carries the energy code for the image to the vision center in the brain.
  • The brain interprets the energy code as an image.

If you are ready to be free from glasses or contact lenses, please talk to a qualified LASIK surgeon to learn more about laser vision correction and how it works.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is commonly thought of as an eye condition involving high pressure inside of the eye. However, it is really a term for many conditions that damage the optic nerve. In most cases elevated intraocular pressure is what causes the damage to the nerve, but not always. The damage to the optic nerve causes vision loss. Vision loss and blindness can be prevented in about 90% of people with glaucoma if it is detected and treated early, but since it does not cause pain or other symptoms before vision loss begins, it often goes untreated.

Preserving Your Vision
Most types of glaucoma do not produce early symptoms. Regular eye exams with glaucoma screening are the only way to detect the condition early and prevent vision loss.

Anyone can develop glaucoma, but some people are at a higher risk and need to be even more vigilant in having regular glaucoma screenings, including, but not limited to people who:

  • Are over 60
  • Are of Native American, Asian, or African descent
  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Use or have used steroids

Glaucoma Treatment
The most common glaucoma treatment is the use of special eye drops to control intraocular pressure. There are several types of surgery that can be used if the drops are not effective or in cases when fast and aggressive action is needed to prevent serious damage to the optic nerve.

Regular eye exams with glaucoma screenings are your best defense against vision loss and blindness. Please find a qualified ophthalmologist in your area today to schedule a glaucoma screening.

Eyes and Sun Damage

The sun’s rays can do significant harm to your vision. Some of the damage is cumulative and cannot be reversed. Protecting your eyes from the sun and sun damage is essential to preserving your eyesight.

Conditions Caused by Sun Exposure
The suns rays can damage the lens, retina, and other parts of your eye. Some of the eye conditions that are caused or contributed to by sun exposure include:

  • Cataracts
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Cancer of the eyeball or skin around the eyes
  • Growths on the cornea (pterygia)
  • Sunburned cornea (photokeratitis)
  • Herpes flare-ups

Protecting Your Eyes from the Sun
Staying out of the sun entirely is impossible and would not be healthy. You can protect your eyes from sun damage by staying indoors between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. when possible, and wearing the right sunglasses when you go outside.

In order to protect your eyes, your sunglasses need to block 99%-100% of UV rays (both UVA and UVB) and blue light. Many sunglass styles allow light to come in around the lenses, still harming your eyes. Look for large lenses that fit close to your eyes, wrap-around styles, or glacier glasses.

Children are more susceptible to sun damage because their eyes cannot block as much of the UV rays. Make sure that your child’s sunglasses are labeled as UV protective.

Do not be fooled by overcast days. Even when it is not bright outside, you are still being exposed to harmful rays.

Please, make an appointment with your local eye doctor to learn more about your eyes and the sun. Take your sunglasses in with you to find out if they are providing adequate protection.