Franciscan St. Francis

SPR 2016

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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1 3 F r a n c i s c a n S t F r a n c i s . o r g S P R I N G 2 016 I N S P I R I N G W O M E N I f you've spent a lifetime peering through eyeglasses or contact lenses, there's nothing quite like the experience of waking up the morning after LASIK surgery and being able to see clearly. LASIK, an acronym for Laser-Assisted in situ Keratomileusis, is a laser eye surgery that corrects some common vision problems, resulting in perfect or nearly perfect unaided vision. Laser vision correction has been around for more than 25 years, and while the basic procedure hasn't changed much, subtle improvements in technology have made for better outcomes, according to Sungjun Hwang, MD, an ophthalmologist affiliated with University of Rochester Medicine's Thompson Health, Canandaigua, New York. CUSTOMIZING EYESIGHT Improvements in the customization of LASIK surgery mean the cornea can be viewed more three- dimensionally and the procedure can be "tweaked" to a greater degree for each individual patient. "It used to be that if someone came in with the same prescription, we would treat them with the same procedure," said Dr. Hwang. "Now you can identify even subtle differences in the same basic [prescription], which allows us to customize each procedure to give the patient a notably different visual experience." DIFFERENT PROCEDURES There are several different types of laser eye surgery procedures, including so-called "bladed" and "bladeless," but one is not necessarily better than another, said Dr. Hwang. Both have very similar outcomes, as well as their own set of possible complications, although complications from laser eye surgery are rare. Mild after-effects such as dry eye and poor night vision or "halos" usually resolve within the first six months or so. The most important factor in laser eye surgery success is finding a reputable eye surgeon, SHUTTERSTOCK PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) has been around longer than LASIK (Laser-Assisted in situ Keratomileusis) and is still used for patients who aren't good candidates for LASIK, perhaps due to thin corneas. In both procedures, the cornea is reshaped using a laser. With LASIK, a thin, hinged fap is created on the cornea to access the treatment area. With PRK, the cornea's entire outer layer is removed and replaced. It takes patients longer to recover from PRK, and there can be signifcant discomfort, whereas LASIK doesn't usually cause any discomfort. The outcomes in improved vision for the procedures are nearly identical, as is the price. In addition, the same customization is available for PRK as for LASIK, according to Sungjun Hwang, MD, an ophthalmologist affliated with University of Rochester Medicine's Thompson Health. LASIK vs. PRK said Dr. Hwang. Many early centers that opened to focus only on laser vision surgery are now closing, leaving patients without follow-up care. "As a patient, you need to focus on both short- and long-term care and in finding a respected, experienced surgeon who will give you honest answers, because not everyone's a good candidate for LASIK," said Dr. Hwang. Most providers charge $2,500 to $4,000 per eye, depending upon the type of surgery and the degree of correction and customization, and laser eye surgery is rarely covered by insurance. LOOKING TO THE FUTURE The ideal standard of vision, said Dr. Hwang, is to have your new eyes work like those of a 20-year-old. And the future of perfect vision for everyone may be lens replacement surgery, also known as refractive lens exchange. As the name implies, your own imperfect eye lens is replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL) that permanently corrects your vision. This is the same procedure now used to treat cataracts, but improved FDA-approved lasers may make it a more common procedure for those who are not good candidates for LASIK, such as people with thin corneas or severely compromised eyesight. Lens replacement surgery is permanent and prevents you from ever developing cataracts, but it's pricey and is usually covered by insurance only for correcting cataracts. As the technology becomes more common, however, lens replacement may become standard operating procedure for everyone. • The most important factor in laser eye surgery is fnding a reputable eye surgeon.

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