Scientific strides for LASIK eye surgery after 25 years

As laser vision correction surgery moves into its third decade, new technology is improving the process and reducing unwanted side effects.

New techniques in LASIK laser eye surgery may reduce the number of unpleasant side effects suffered by some patients while improving vision outcomes.
New techniques in LASIK laser eye surgery may reduce the number of unpleasant side effects suffered by some patients while improving vision outcomes.

SAN DIEGO, April 29, 2016 – Since the first device was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1998, laser vision correction has become the single most widely performed elective surgical procedure worldwide today. More than 20 million people have undergone LASIK surgery, and another 600,000 people join them every year, according to the FDA.

There are now over 30 different types of lasers approved for LASIK procedures by the FDA. Many people are happy with the results, but it isn’t always without side effects. LASIK results improved when more customized technology, called “WaveFront,” was introduced in 2003, resulting in safer, better results for many patients.

Eight U.S. clinics have now been granted permission within the past few weeks by the FDA to begin offering a brand new state-of-the art method of laser vision correction called Contoura Vision™, including Washington D.C., Atlanta, Honolulu and the San Diego based Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute. The New Vision Institute was part of the FDA clinical trials leading to the recent approval of the process.

This procedure uses a proprietary topography-guided software system that maps the corneal surface of the eye for a customized correction plan for each patient, thereby creating a better quality of vision. The software delivers an improved accuracy of correction by combining the Vario (a device that measures the topography of the corneal surface at 22,000 measurement points) with the Wavelight EX500 and Topography-Guided Planning Software. The treatment planning software allows for the creation of a unique surgical plan for each patient. It is the best technology available today to treat patients to optimize their results. During clinical trials, almost 90 percent of patients post-operatively saw as well or better without glasses than they ever did with glasses.

See video of the process here.

Dr. Michael Gordon of the Schanzlin Institute participated in the clinical trials and has performed more than 150 Contoura Vision corrections to date. He will act as a lead trainer on the new procedure for other doctors across the U.S. “The procedure enhances the effects of LASIK and offers patients a number of benefits, including a two-thirds chance of seeing better than 20/20, a better quality of vision, an increase in reading speed, and a decrease in glare at night,” said Gordon.

“In most previous techniques, all you’re really doing is treating the eyeglasses prescription and using a baseline curvature of the cornea for the laser to compute the treatment,” said Gordon. “With Topography-Guided laser treatment, the technology uses a diagnostic device that looks at the imperfections in the optics of the cornea and the curvature of the cornea and combines that with things like the glasses prescription.. It computes the treatment for each individual eye on a spot-by-spot basis. I think it’s leading in the right direction and it incorporates better diagnostics into the treatment.”

Although most patients are pleased about the results of LASIK procedures and are realistic about what can be achieved, there are risks and limitations. It’s critically important to screen prospective patients carefully to be sure they are good candidates for laser vision correction surgery. Even the best-screened patients under the care of most skilled surgeons can experience complications, which range from mild to serious.

It it crucial for every patient considering LASIK surgery to consult with an expert physician and receive a thorough screening. An FDA consumer guide is available to help you.
It it crucial for every patient considering LASIK surgery to consult with an expert physician and receive a thorough screening. An FDA consumer guide is available to help you.

The new Contoura Vision procedure helps reduce the incidence of complications. During the clinical trials, as compared with preoperatively, reports of marked to severe problems with light sensitivity, difficulty driving at night, reading difficulty, fluctuation in vision, glare, halos, starbursts, dryness and pain were all reduced after the topography-guided procedure.

The difference between the proportion of patients with marked to severe prob0lems preoperatively versus postoperatively was statistically significant for light sensitivity, difficulty driving at night, reading difficulty and glare.

Gordon has experience with every type of laser that has been approved in the U.S. Based on his experience in the clinical trials, he said, “This is the best technology I have ever used and is the technology that will get you the best vision.” He reports that his San Diego patients are electing to have the new procedure and are pleased with their results.

Gordon said this new technology will be used in addition to previous techniques. “Right now, only people who are nearsighted with astigmatism are eligible for this treatment,” Dr. Gordon explains. “Plus, I don’t believe this technology is actually necessary in some cases. I think this is something that we will use more frequently, but it’s certainly not for everyone.”

The FDA advises all consumers before undergoing a refractive procedure to carefully weigh the risks and benefits based on their own personal value systems, and to avoid being influenced by friends who have undergone the procedure or by doctors encouraging them to do so. The FDA issued a consumer advisory report last year on how to better assess whether laser vision surgery is right for someone.

 Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is president/owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego. She is senior boxing columnist and also writes criticism and features for Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

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