It’s amazing the difference a decade makes. A relative unknown in 1999, LASIK laser vision correction surgery has now become part of the American lexicon. And despite a dragging global recession, more than 10 million procedures have been performed in the U.S. since the new millennium as more consumers come to understand its true nature and benefits. It is my ultimate professional goal to help as many patients as I can to get the most out of life by eliminating or greatly reducing their dependence upon corrective eyewear. Anything I can do to further advance the public’s understanding of the profound benefits of these procedures should help in this light.
LASIK, which is an acronym for Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis, refers to the process of reshaping the clear visual cover of the eye, known as the cornea, through the use of a laser. Initially approved by the FDA in 1998 for only those who were nearsighted, modern LASIK can now effectively and accurately correct all forms of visual blur, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatic vision. Contrary to popular belief, LASIK is extremely effective at treating most forms of astigmatism. Many also erroneously believe that they are too old at 55 or 60, or that patients who only use glasses for reading aren’t good candidates. Recent advancements are now making these treatments extremely effective and commonplace as well.
Prior to the advent of all-laser LASIK, many believed the procedure to be a one-step process. In actuality, LASIK is (and has always been) a two-step procedure. But when it was initially introduced, the first step, creation of a corneal flap, was accomplished with a steel blade device called a microkeratome. About five years ago, I incorporated a laser known as IntraLase into my practice. Developed by Harvard physicists, biomedical engineers, and ophthalmologists, it utilizes an incredible quadrillionth of a second pulse duration (or femtosecond) laser. This breakthrough technology allowed many candidates who were previously unwilling to have LASIK because of the blade, the peace of mind to move forward. It also made the procedure even safer than it already was.
In the second step, the cornea is sculpted and vision is actually corrected. I accomplish this step with a device called the Allegretto Excimer Laser System by Alcon. I was the second surgeon in the country to acquire the Allegretto following its approval by the FDA in late 2003. I did this because I believed that its speed and accuracy would provide patients with better outcomes than those achieved with the custom laser technologies that also became available at that time. It is now apparent that this combination of IntraLase and Allegretto is a preferred platform for LASIK surgery. In the past few months, many centers in this region have just acquired the technology that we have been using here at Millennium for the past five years.
In LASIK’s infancy, when surgeons had very little experience and the equipment was archaic by today’s standards, the news media often reported about unsatisfied patients with poor results or unwanted side effects and many of these stories continue to linger in the minds of wary candidates. To be completely fair though, modern LASIK is actually safer than one of its far more popular vision correction alternatives. I find it surprising that no one seems to ever mention the thousands of individuals who lose permanent vision every year in America through the improper wear of contact lenses.
One of the most important things consumers should keep in mind is that LASIK is not a commodity where identical experiences and outcomes are achieved regardless of the surgeon’s skill, experience, and the technology employed. Today’s new LASIK surgery is light-years ahead of what was first offered, and statistically, we are seeing levels of vision improvements that would have seemed unimaginable only a decade ago. Many patients report their vision is better than it ever was while wearing glasses or contacts. With “new LASIK,” I am comfortable stating that in my hands, well more than 99 percent of patients treated at our center are more than satisfied with their experience. If the general public only knew how safe, quick, and painless modern LASIK actually was, they wouldn’t hesitate to have it done.
Cory M. Lessner, M.D.
Millennium Laser Eye Center
1601 Sawgrass Corporate Parkway, Suite 410
Sunrise, Fl 33323
888.93.LASIK | 954.835.0800