By Briana Vannozzi
Lasers and eye clamps may not sound tempting, but for the millions of people suffering from and searching for perfect vision, it’s the answer to their dreams.
Dr. Harmon Stein is a surgeon at Campus Eye Group in Hamilton and tells the popularity increases every year
“Safer than contact lenses. Because the incidents of complications with contact lens like cornea ulcers, infections which can be quite devastating is far greater,” Stein said.
Ideal candidates must be over the age of 18 and have a stable lens prescription for about two years.
“Somebody who’s got a moderate amount of nearsightedness or farsightedness, moderate amount of astigmatism. Somebody who has got no other eye disease,” Stein said.
NJTV’s executive producer felt ready to go “under the knife,” allowing our cameras to watch.
It starts with preoperative screening. This looks like a basic eye exam, but the doctors are monitoring multiple elements of the cornea.
During the procedure, a flap is created by vaporizing tiny bubble-like perforations, separating the tissue with a computer controlled femtosecond laser.
“This is exquisitely thin. This is about 110 microns. To give you an idea, the very very thinnest contact lens you could ever get is 250 microns,” said Stein.
The flap is closed again, correcting the curvature of the cornea and correcting vision.
And this same technology is now translating to bladeless cataract surgery, the clinical director explains, “It takes several things out of the process, the hard parts of cataract surgery that allows surgeons to do. It can make the incision, the initial incision that the surgeon has to do into the cornea with a laser instead of a blade,” said Dr. Brian Cohen.
Cost has also come down — about $3,000 to $5,000 — and while it feels steep up front, there are long-term savings.
“The small cost can be compared to contact lens, frequent eye doctor visits over your life, glasses,” said Stein.
The entire procedure takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
And the discomfort following post-op?
“Other than feeling like I have an eyelash in my eye, I’m feeling pretty good to go,” said Phil Alongi.
Dr Cohen says while it may be a quick fix, it’s not always perfect.
“Not to say we don’t have complications. It’s not to say that problems don’t exist with this procedure but with the newer lasers and better prescreening that we do, those are much much fewer than we’ve seen in the past,” Cohen said.
Recovery time is quick. Phil regained vision immediately after surgery. About 95 percent of patients are feeling well and back to work within 24 hours. Which means everyone back at the station can expect to see our boss tomorrow.