What Improving Technology Means for LASIK and Your Vision
One of the most common surgeries in the United States, LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis), has enabled millions of Americans to forego their glasses and contact lenses and, in most cases, enjoy at least 20/20 vision. LASIK is a short, low-risk procedure that involves using a laser to reshape the cornea and thus correct a multitude of vision issues. Improving technology has had a major impact on this refractive eye surgery, making it even safer and more precise.
David M. Harman, M.D., founder of Harman Eye Center and medical director of Harman Eye Surgery Center, has been performing refractive eye surgeries since 1993 and LASIK since 1999. “For LASIK vision correction, we have seen some dramatic changes over the last 20 years,” he says.
Among these changes is the addition of a femtosecond laser, which has replaced the manual blade in the initial step of creating a protective flap in the cornea before using an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. “With the advent of femtosecond laser technology, we are able to greatly improve the safety and precision by performing all-laser LASIK,” Dr. Harman says. “In fact, this technology is so safe and precise that it has been approved by the military for its pilots, and it has even been approved by NASA for its astronauts.”
Additional innovations that make LASIK procedures even safer and more effective include tracking software, customized technology and iris recognition. “The procedure has improved in so many ways,” says Darin Bowers, M.D., iLASIK™ surgeon at Piedmont Eye Center. “Tracking software, for example, is now used to keep the treatment centered on the cornea as most patients have some degree of ocular movement during the procedure.”
Customized technology entails computer-generated images of a specific individual’s eyes; this technology leads to better precision and reduces glare at night, which was an issue with LASIK procedures years ago. “Iris Registration software allows the treatment to identify a patient’s eye based on iris pattern and align treatment more accurately,” Dr. Bowers adds. “All of these improvements have led to improved outcomes in the way of added safety and better vision results.”
Dr. Harman notes that custom technology “not only corrects one’s nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, but can also correct for higher order aberrations, thus helping to achieve visual results that often surpass 20/20. In an FDA study using the same technology that we have here at Harman Eye Center, 98 percent of patients were 20/20 and 70 percent of patients had even better than 20/20 vision.”
Both Dr. Harman and Dr. Bowers say that although the results of LASIK are usually permanent, certain vision issues that come with age are still unavoidable. “The results of both LASIK and cataract surgery usually last for a lifetime,” Dr. Harman says. “Patients over the age of 40 will experience a condition called presbyopia. Presbyopia is a loss of the ability to see things up close. This happens to virtually all humans and is caused from the loss of flexibility with the eye’s natural lens.”
Dr. Bowers says that “although the treatment is permanent, changes can still occur as the patient ages, especially if things like cataracts or diabetes develop later.” That said, however, it is possible to receive LASIK treatment more than once. “Re-treatments can be done if the corneal thickness allows and if no other eye pathology develops,” Dr. Bowers notes.
Regardless of your lifestyle, career, and hobbies, LASIK surgery will likely greatly improve your quality of life. “Patients who decide to have LASIK don’t have to struggle with glasses or contacts on a daily basis,” Dr. Harman says. “For people who enjoy outdoor activities such as running, golfing, and swimming, LASIK can have a profound impact on their lives. Imagine being a mother and constantly having a small toddler grabbing for your glasses. LASIK takes away the fear of them breaking their glasses and helps them see all of life’s precious moments.”
According to Dr. Bowers, contact lenses also pose a problem. “If they [people who are anxious about getting LASIK surgery] already wear contacts, I would point out the many studies that have shown higher risks of vision-threatening complications from contact lens wear than from LASIK,” he says. “There are so many examples of how LASIK has improved patients’ quality of life. One of the most common things we hear is patients who discover how well they can see their children playing at the beach. Runners enjoy the freedom of not dealing with contacts or glasses, especially in rain. We’ve had the privilege of providing LASIK to professionals in various sports including golf, professional football, motorcycle racing, and even one patient who was a national rifle bench-rest champion. Each one seemed to enjoy the freedom LASIK provided.”
Of course, you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy the benefits of LASIK, and Harman Eye Center and Piedmont Eye Center both offer free consultations to determine if LASIK is right for you.
“At Harman Eye Center, we want patients to feel comfortable and relaxed during their visit,” Dr. Harman says. “That is why we created both a private center that is dedicated only to laser vision correction and a private ambulatory surgery center for our cataract and minor surgical cases. The intent of our center is to create a warm and welcoming environment for our patients, and
our goal is to provide the highest quality eye care and superior service.
Since 1993, I have performed thousands of refractive procedures.”
At Piedmont Eye Center, “iLASIK™ is a great option for anyone who desires less dependence on glasses or contacts,” Dr. Bowers says.
“Since 1999 we’ve had the privilege of performing thousands of procedures using equipment that is kept current in a state-of-the-art climate-controlled laser suite. We take it seriously. Again, our free no-obligation comprehensive LASIK evaluation will allow patients to know their candidacy with this procedure so they can make a well-informed decision.”
By Emily Hedrick