New LASIK Variant Procedure Restores Eyesight of Nearly-Blind Patients

A revolutionary new laser vision correction procedure has been helping people who are nearly blind regain their eyesight. The procedure seems to eliminate many of the issues associated with other versions of laser vision correction.

The procedure, called the Smile technique (small incision lenticule extraction) is accomplished by making a tiny 3mm incision in the cornea. Laser eye surgeons then remove a small disc from the inside of the cornea with the help of a microscope. The corneal disc is then reshaped and reinserted into the eye. The Smile technique has helped people with vision of -10 and worse restore their eyesight to a level where they no longer require glasses.

Traditional LASIK procedures create a flap in the cornea which is lifted out of the way so that the eye surgeon can reshape the inside of the cornea using a laser. The Smile technique achieves the same corneal reshaping without the need to create a flap.

According to Professor Dan Reinstein, one of the creators of the procedure, the new technique may make laser vision correction available to many people who previously were not candidates for LASIK. The Smile technique is also a great option for people who suffer from dry eye syndrome and as a result are not able to undergo traditional LASIK. Since the front surface of the cornea is not cut during the Smile procedure, the nerves at the front of the cornea are not disturbed. This reduces the incidence of LASIK complications associated with dry eye.

The Smile technique was developed in five clinics worldwide. It is currently being used by surgeons in London, but has not received FDA approval for use in the United States. The procedure is still very expensive. It runs almost $10,000, which is more than double the cost of LASIK. However, for those people who have been unable to undergo refractive surgery in the past, it may be well worth the price.

Please contact Eyes.com today to locate an experienced LASIK doctor near you.

SMILE Eye Surgery Offers an All-in-One Alternative to LASIK

Since LASIK is more than two decades old at this point and has several drawbacks despite its proven results, it should not be a surprise that people are always looking for a new alternative procedure. The new candidate is called SMILE surgery, which is short for Small-Incision Lenticule Extraction surgery, and it uses only a femtosecond laser to reshape the cornea.

This procedure hopes to remove flap complications associated with LASIK as well as the risk of dry eyes after the procedure, and maybe give a treatment alternative to many people who cannot benefit from LASIK.

In SMILE surgery, a small incision is made in the surface of the cornea using a femtosecond laser. The femtosecond laser is then used to cut out a lens-shaped section from the interior of the cornea. This section is then extracted using a small tool.

There have been a number of significant studies performed on this procedure. One of the earliest was performed in Germany and the results published in the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery in 2008, using a slightly different version of the procedure called Femtosecond Lenticule Extraction (FLE, sometimes FLEX or reFLEX). This study treated ten myopic eyes, with 90% of them achieving +/- 1.00 D, approximately equivalent to 20/50 vision. The study showed no evidence of higher-order aberrations.

A more recent study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology looked at 91 eyes of 48 patients. This multi-center 6-month prospective study showed even more positive results, with 95.6% of patients within 1.00 D, and 83.5% of eyes achieved an uncorrected visual acuity (vision without glasses or contacts) of 20/20 at 6 months, comparable to LASIK results. In the follow-up questionnaire, 93.3% of patients were satisfied and would undergo the procedure again.

The SMILE procedure is already being offered in Britain and India, and researchers are recruiting candidates for clinical trials here in the US. It’s hard to say just how long it will be before the procedure will be available.

To learn more about advanced vision correction alternatives, please contact a local ophthalmologist today.

Google Glasses: The Wave of the Future?

It may sound like a joke, but it isn’t: Google, the heavyweight champion of the Internet, is developing a device called “Project Glass” that is designed to integrate Internet access with glasses lenses. The project is still in experimental stages and may not see the light of day for many years down the road, but Google has released a video showcasing how they hope people might use this Internet eyewear in the future. Ideally, you would be able to:

  • Map a route
  • Listen to music
  • Check the weather
  • Communicate with friends
  • Schedule events

Google says the development team has been looking for ways to seamlessly integrate the technology with prescription glasses, but they admit that this aspect of the project has met more than a few roadblocks. If you don’t need a glasses prescription (or if you wear contacts) this probably wouldn’t be an issue, but it would limit the amount of people who would be able to make daily use of Google Glasses – unless those people took advantage of LASIK eye surgery to correct their vision.

If you are looking for an experienced ophthalmologist in your area, please contact eyes.com today.

PRK Safer than LASIK for Retreating Radial Keratotomy

For those who need radial keratotomy (RK) re-treatments, it has been reported by the RK Re-treatment Study that PRK is safer than LASIK.

The RK Re-treatment Study group, led by ophthalmologists, looked at 221 procedures over a 12 year period between 1997 and 2010 from six different US surgical centers. All but three LASIK procedures were done conventionally, while two-thirds of the PRK procedures were conventional. The other one-third were wavefront-guided custom PRK. (Wavefront-treatment did not become popular until around 2005.) Refractive errors between PRK and LASIK patients were roughly the same.

Three to six months after eye surgery, both conventional LASIK and wavefront-guided PRK showed better at keeping best-corrected visual acuity in patients than was conventional PRK. Nearly 80% of all patients showed better than 20/40 vision after eye surgery.

However, for patients who needed to be retreated, there were complications in 12% of the custom LASIK patients, while only 4% of PRK patients had complications. Complications included ectasia in the LASIK group, which required penetrating keratoplasty. Two patients in the PRK group required both eyes needing phototherapeutic keratectomy due to “postoperative haze.” Retreatment gave these patients 20/20 and 20/25 vision respectively.

The RK Re-treatment Study recommends further evaluation in this area of laser vision correction. This may be especially important due to the increasing number of people seeking vision correction surgery.

If you are interested in finding out more about PRK or LASIK, please find a doctor in your area through eyes.com today.

Am I Too Old for LASIK Eye Surgery?

Although people over the age of 40 are more prone to developing eye disorders and diseases, your age alone does not necessarily disqualify you from LASIK eye surgery. Your ophthalmologist will evaluate several different factors about your medical history and the overall health of your eyes in order to determine whether or not you are a good LASIK candidate. Some older patients who aren’t good candidates for LASIK may be excellent candidates for other types of Laser Vision Correction.

If you are an older patient who is considering Laser Vision Correction, it is important to understand that full correction may not be possible. Eventually, most people over 40 years old will run into presbyopia – a problem where the lenses of the eyes harden and cannot focus on near objects anymore. This makes it necessary for you to use of bifocals, trifocals, or reading glasses. Since presbyopia is not a corneal condition, LASIK cannot correct it.

Because of this, older patients usually have two options with LASIK eye surgery:

  • Correcting one eye for distance, and one eye for near vision (monovision)
  • Correcting both eyes for distance (patient will still need reading glasses for near vision)

If you have further questions about LASIK eye surgery for older patients, contact an experienced ophthalmologist in your area today.

Presbyopia

Having 20/20 vision is nice. It’s the way your vision should be. Millions of people need corrective lenses to see 20/20 because of myopia. However, these individuals, as well as those who have natural 20/20 vision may find when they hit their early 40s that things that were once so crystal clear up close have begun to get fuzzy. This blurred vision may be more than a passing thing, it may be presbyopia.

Presbyopia is part of aging, and unavoidable for nearly everyone after they’ve reached 40. It’s the reason your grandparents all wear reading glasses, and it’s the reason your parents hold their books and magazines as far away from them as they can.  Presbyopia is, for all intents and purposes, age-related farsightedness.

Why people develop presbyopia is not fully understood, and there are a couple theories. One is that the lens begins to become hard due to proteins. This makes the lens less flexible to focal changes. Another theory is that the ciliary muscle begins to weaken. This makes it harder for the lens curvature to steepen to see things near. A third, and newest, theory is that the lens continues to grow, and by age 40 it has grown so much that the ciliary muscle does not have enough space to contract and steepen the lens. However, this last theory is not held by many eye doctors right now.

Whatever causes presbyopia can only be fixed by the old standbys: corrective lenses, LASIK, and conductive keratoplasty (CK).

If you are 40 or older and have noticed your near vision beginning to blur, find an experienced eye doctor in your area to test you for presbyopia today.

Understanding Visual Acuity

20/20 vision does not mean perfect vision. What it does mean is that you can see at 20 feet what a majority of other people can see at 20 feet. Visual acuity tests are designed to determine at what range you can see. With visual acuity tests, the top number is fixed, but the bottom number is a variable. For example, if you can see at 20 feet what most people can see at 40 feet, your vision is 20/40. The bottom number can go up or down in either direction from 20 and is used to determine if you are nearsighted or farsighted.

Correcting Refractive Errors

If you do not have 20/20 vision, you may require assistance from prescription eyewear such as glasses or contact lenses to help you see objects at a range of distances. Several alternatives to prescription eyewear such as LASIK and PRK can also be used to correct refractive errors and help provide clear sight. In fact, eyewear is not a fix so much as a Band-Aid. Only a refractive error correction surgery can truly provide you with lasting eyesight of 20/20 or better.

If you are experiencing any vision difficulties and would like to learn more about your options, please use the doctor locator at eyes.com to find an experienced ophthalmologist in your area today.

2009 LASIK Statistics

The American Academy of Ophthalmology compiles yearly statistics on LASIK surgery. In their 2009 report entitled “Eye Health Statistics at a Glance,” it was found that 700,000 people received LASIK that year, a number slightly down from previous years.

This study reports that 55.3 percent of LASIK patients achieved visual acuity of 20/20 or better, while 92.6 percent of patients achieved visual acuity of 20/40 or better. 20/40 vision is considered good enough to pass a driving test without glasses. However, it may still be necessary to wear glasses for some tasks following LASIK surgery.

LASIK Risks

This study found that serious complications occurred in only 5 percent of all LASIK recipients. These complications included:

  • Halos around lights in 3.5 percent of patients
  • Visual fluctuations in 2.7 percent of patients
  • Glare and sensitivity to light in 1.7 percent of patients

Around three percent of patients reported that their eyesight got worse following LASIK surgery.

While there is never a guarantee with any surgery, the percentage of LASIK recipients who achieve better vision is substantially higher than those who experience complications. Working with an experienced LASIK surgeon in your area can further reduce your risks and help provide you with freedom from the burdens of prescription eyewear.

If you are interested in learning more about LASIK, please use the doctor locator at eyes.com to find an experienced ophthalmologist in your area today.

Giants Star Sandoval Latest Pro Athlete to Undergo LASIK

Popular San Francisco Giants player Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval recently joined the growing list of professional athletes to undergo LASIK surgery.

According to a Dec. 1 post on the Extra Baggs blog of the San Jose Mercury News, the hard-hitting third baseman underwent LASIK to correct 20/40 vision in his left eye. Sandoval hit .330 in 2009, his first full season in the major leagues, but his batting average dropped to .268 in 2010.

Although he tried using various contacts and prescription goggles over the 2010 and 2011 seasons, his vision remained an issue.

“He was relying on one eye,” said Sandoval’s agent, Ryan Morgan, in the Dec. 1 Extra Baggs post. “I think it would be wrong not to admit there’s a correlation there. It’s a combination of not picking up the ball as well and how that can play into your confidence.”

Morgan added that Sandoval’s vision had not been retested since the LASIK procedure, but that Sandoval believed his sight was improved.

Sandoval is the latest in a long list of pro athletes to choose laser vision correction surgery to correct a vision problem. Brian McCann, the All-Star catcher for the Atlanta Braves, has had LASIK, as have Miami Heat teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Other noteworthy athletes to undergo LASIK include golfer Tiger Woods, former Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves pitcher Greg Maddux, former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber and Detroit Pistons guard Richard Hamilton.

If you would like to learn more about LASIK, please contact eyes.com to locate an ophthalmologist near you.

Increased Astigmatism Risk for Hispanics, African-Americans, and Children of Smokers

Astigmatism is when the cornea is not circular. Instead, it is flattened, more like a section of a football than a section of a soccer ball. Astigmatism is a refractive error that is associated with difficulty seeing at all distances. Astigmatism can also be more difficult to correct with LASIK than other types of refractive errors. Now a new study has shown more light on the risk factors associated with this type of refractive error.

According to results of the Multiethnic Pediatric Eye Disease Study and the Baltimore Eye Disease Study, several factors are associated with an increased risk of astigmatism among preschool-aged children. There was a total of 9970 children involved in the study from Los Angeles, California and Baltimore, Maryland counties. The researchers were looking for connections among clinical, behavioral, and demographic factors with astigmatism.

Researchers found that if you had either myopia or hyperopia, you were at an increased risk of having astigmatism. Hispanic and African-American children were more likely to have astigmatism than non-Hispanic white children. Hispanic children were about 140% more likely to have astigmatism, while African-American children were about 50% more likely to have astigmatism. Researchers also found that a mother who smokes increased the risk her child would have astigmatism by about 50%.

These results largely confirm previous results about astigmatism, but the connection with maternal smoking is relatively new, and important.

Astigmatism is harder to correct than either myopia or hyperopia using laser vision correction techniques such as LASIK. In the past, many patients were turned away because it was impossible to correct astigmatism. With the introduction of wavefront-guided LASIK, however, the treatment of astigmatism has become more commonplace, leading. Even irregular and mixed astigmatism can be corrected with LASIK.

If you or your child is having vision difficulties, please contact a local eye doctor to learn about the best treatment options for your vision.