Refractive surgery works by cutting a tiny flap in the surface of the eye and then using a laser to reshape the cornea.
A lot has changed in the last 20 years, from the smartphones and tablets that are now ever-present in our hands to the advent of self-driving and electric cars. In the same time, medical technology has advanced as well. Dr. Gabriel Perry, an ophthalmologist in Scottsdale, Arizona has been performing refractive surgeries since he was a medical resident, back in 1999, when LASIK (which stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) surgery was still in early days. Since then, he’s performed more than 28,000 refractive surgeries and, needless to say, he’s seen the surgery advance quite a bit since then.
“Back in LASIK infancy, we were seeing a lot more potential complications,” says Perry. “We learned a lot about the surgery and have improved upon the technique and the technology as well.”
Refractive surgery works by cutting a tiny flap in the surface of the eye and then using a laser to reshape the cornea in a specialized pattern to improve vision for each patient, correcting vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Perry says that the biggest difference he sees in how refractive surgery is done today is that that little flap is now also made by a laser, where before, it was made by a tiny blade.
“Defects in those blades could make for some potentially concerning complications,” says Perry.
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Plus, he says, patients are more comfortable with the idea that the surgery today is performed entirely by laser. “I think a lot of people used to be freaked out by the cutting involved, but patients today are much more excited about an all-laser surgery than hearing about the use of a blade on their eye.”
Another major advantage when it comes to flap-cutting lasers: they’re a lot more accurate. Lasers can create thinner, smaller flaps and ophthalmologists can better direct them to a location on the eye that makes the most sense for each patient’s particular vision problem.
Perry says the lasers themselves used in refractive surgery have also advanced with technology since he began doing the surgeries years ago, which is helping to improve outcomes.
FDA studies released in 2014 collected patient-reported outcomes from hundreds of LASIK surgery patients who all took one survey prior to surgery and another three months after. More than 95 percent of patients in both groups reported 20/20 vision after surgery.
Perry says this is an improvement from earlier studies where 20/20 outcomes were less likely. “Today, I have lots of patients who end up with even better than 20/20 vision,” he says.
Perry is pleased with how much LASIK has evolved in recent years, especially as the newer technology available has helped doctors like him determine which patients are the best candidates for LASIK surgery through advancements in different methods of visualizing each patient’s cornea.
When it comes to the many patients that Perry has seen over the years, he says he hasn’t seen much change over who used to get LASIK versus who’s jumping on board now. “As with any new technology, you always have your early adopters, the type of people who want to be the first ones to try something, as opposed to those who say, ‘Let someone else take that dive first, we’ll follow after.’ ”
While the procedure can be financed differently for everyone depending on their insurance coverage and location, Perry says people of all populations can benefit. “The most common comment I get from patients, besides, ‘I should have done this sooner,’ is ‘This is the best money I ever spent,’ ” he says.
LasikPlus offers multiple treatment options, including LASIK and PRK eye surgery to meet your unique vision-correction needs. Get your free consultation today.