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 Annual 2008

Annual 2008


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Vision Correction

What's New?

    Even if we aren’t hit early in life with eye conditions that require corrective lenses—most commonly myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness) or astigmatism (an unequal curving of the refractive surface of the eye)—by middle age we will almost certainly encounter presbyopia, which is Greek for “aging eye” and sends most people over 40 running to the local drugstore for reading glasses.
    Recent advances in vision correction, especially laser techniques, are starting to make eyeglasses a thing of the past. Laser eye surgery can correct many of the “refractive errors” in vision previously addressed by prescribing glasses or contact lenses. The largest increase in laser eye surgery has been in the procedure called laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis, popularly known as LASIK.
    “Laser vision correction is not new, but the technology keeps improving,” says Pablo Lobato, the refractive procedure coordinator at the Lerner Eye Center, an East Bay vision correction center with offices in San Ramon, Concord and Pittsburg.
    Lobato notes that the latest trend is customized LASIK, in which the cornea is reshaped to address the exact needs of the patient.
    In a LASIK procedure, the laser cuts a flap in the thin layer of the cornea’s tissue. By folding back the flap and removing tissue, the shape of the central cornea is changed, and the refractive error of vision is reduced. Lobato explains that a similar procedure, called LASEK (for laser assisted sub-epithelial keratomileusis), cuts a thinner layer of tissue around the cornea, with equally successful results.
    There is more going on in vision-correction technology than laser surgery. Another new vision-correction technique is conductive keratoplasty, or CK, a procedure that helps correct presbyopia. In order to see something up close, the lens flexes to create a focal point to use as reference for the object in view. With age, the lens loses its elasticity, and the focal point shifts to behind the retina rather than its normal placement at the rear of the eye. This is presbyopia, which can be corrected safely and easily by CK, Lobato says, explaining that CK uses radio waves, instead of a laser or scalpel, to bring near vision back into focus, without cutting or removing    any tissue.
    Another new treatment, intraocular lens, or IOL, also known as implantable lens, is proving popular. This method works to adjust multiple refractive errors simultaneously. LASIK treats only one refractive error for each eye, adjusting one eye for near viewing and the other for far viewing. IOL was developed for a deeper vision correction, says Lobato, with the goal of multi-focal lens restoration.
    The eyes’ natural lenses are replaced with lenses that allow most patients to see images that are near (inside 16 inches), intermediate (between 16 and 36 inches) and distant (36 inches and beyond) without glasses.
    CK treatments could be very appealing to “aging baby boomers,” says Lobato. And, though, laser eye surgery would not solve all of that population’s problems, it might make it easier to see (and read) the answers more clearly.

How the Eye Works

Very simply, the eye works much like a camera. Spherically shaped and about an inch in diameter, it takes in light through the pupil. The cornea and lens focus the light and project it onto the retina, which is lined with visual receptors—120 million rods and 6 million cones. The retina then sends electrical impulses to the brain, which translates the impulses into images.

General Resources

Refractive Eye Surgery: A Consumer’s Complete Guide: LASIK, IntraLASIK, Epi-LASIK, CK, Implantable Contact Lenses, and Other Surgical Eye Procedures to Reduce Dependence on Glasses and Contact Lenses by Chris A. Knobbe, M.D.

No More Glasses: The Complete Guide to Laser Vision Correction by Julius Shulman

Health Agencies and Web Sites
Food and Drug Administration, Division of Small Manufacturers, International and Consumer Assistance Consumer Assistance Staff, www.fda.gov/cdrh/consumer/index.html, (888) 463-6332

National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, www.nei.nih.gov, (301) 496-5248

American Academy of Ophthalmology, www.aao.org, (415) 561-8500

American Optometric Association, www.aoanet.org, (800) 365-2219

Related Resources
All About Vision, a source for vision correction and eye-related information, www.allaboutvision.com

Closer to Home
Lerner Eye Center, www.lernereyecenter.com, (888) 820-9600

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