New Lasik Surgery For Thin Corneas

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Good news if you've been unable to have Lasik eye surgery -- a lot of people are turned away because they have thin corneas. Now several new procedures may help people see without glasses.

Lourdes Benito, Patient: "They ran some tests and they discovered my eye was an irregular shape and that my cornea was too thin to perform the Lasik surgery."

David Hysom, Patient: "I was sort of inquisitive about Lasik and he just said -- no you're not a good candidate at this time."

In normal Lasik, doctors make a horizontal slice across the surface of the eye and fold back a flap before using the laser. But some corneas are just too thin for this flap.

Up to now, if your corneas were too thin, doctors just couldn't do Lasik on you, so you'd be stuck wearing glasses or contacts. Well now doctors are using advanced surface ablation to operate on patients who couldn't get treated before.

Mark Mandel, M.D., Hayward Ophthalmologist: "I would say 98 percent of patients with thin corneas can have one of the advance surface ablation procedures."

Hayward Ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Mandel says advanced surface procedures consist of three different methods: Epi-Lasik, Laseek, and P.R.K.. Each process removes a very, very thin layer of corneal cells before using a laser.

Lourdes is a business systems analyst who works at computers all day. Her corneas were so thin she had to have the Laseek procedure which uses alcohol to remove the surface cells.

Lourdes Benito, Patient: "They applied some drops to loosen the cells on top of the cornea, so he could scrape the cells to the side, apply the laser, apply the cells back on and then apply a contact lens so my eye could heal."

She's delighted with the results.

Lourdes Benito, Patient: "I can wake up in the morning, when I do my makeup without having to do my contact lenses or put my glasses on -- it's just great, I love it, it's the best thing I did."

David will be getting Epi-Lasik because of the shape of his eye.

Mark Mandel, M.D., Hayward Ophthalmologist: "You can see a horizontal bowtie with a little bit of drooping sides, that's not a desirable configuration and his cornea is thin - his cornea is about 500 microns. We're just shaving the surface cells off of the cornea."

The Epi-Lasik makes a much thinner horizontal cut than normal Lasik.

Mark Mandel, M.D., Hayward Ophthalmologist: "It cuts an ultra-thin, thin layer of cells thereby making it safer for thin cornea patients."

Doctor Mandel says the specific advanced surface procedure can be tailored for each patient's eye. Recovery time takes longer because the surface has to heal, but studies show the three procedures are safe.

Mark Mandel, M.D., Hayward Ophthalmologist: "It's extremely safe. The results are every bit as good or perhaps better than Lasik."

Good news for patients with thin corneas.

For a week or so following surgery, you'll have to wear a soft contact lens pad over the treated eye while it heals.

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