LASIK Alternatives

lasik-alternativesAlthough LASIK has greatly improved the vision of tens of thousands of patients, it’s not the best option for everyone. There are several LASIK alternatives to consider if you are interested in vision correction and are not a good candidate for the LASIK procedure.

Because Dr. Wright in Rapid City is committed to providing the best possible outcome for every patient, Dr. Wright will only recommend LASIK if it’s the best option for you. A variety of preexisting conditions and variables, such as having thin corneas or certain corneal diseases, may prevent you from having LASIK. Dr. Wright will determine whether any of these conditions affect you during the comprehensive exam you receive at your initial LASIK consultation.

If Dr. Wright determines that you aren’t a LASIK candidate, you may qualify for LASIK alternatives such as photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) or intraocular lenses (IOLs).

PRK: Like LASIK, photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) uses an excimer laser to reshape the eye’s cornea. With PRK, however, the first step of LASIK – creating a corneal flap – doesn’t occur. Instead, the excimer laser ablates the epithelium (the thin outer layer of the cornea) to correct vision, flattening the cornea in a nearsighted eye and smoothing the irregular cornea in an eye with astigmatism. This allows light entering the eye to better focus onto the retina, which results in clearer vision.

IOLS: Intraocular lenses (IOLs) are an alternative to LASIK and PRK eye surgery for correcting moderate to severe myopia (nearsightedness). This procedure is generally indicated for younger patients who are not good candidates for LASIK. IOLs are clear, implantable lenses that are surgically placed either between the cornea and the iris (the colored portion of your eye) or just behind the iris, without removing your natural lens. These lenses enable light to focus properly on the retina for clearer vision without corrective eyewear. Implantable lenses function like contact lenses to correct nearsightedness. The difference is that IOLs work from within your eye instead of sitting on the surface of your eye. Also, IOLs offer a permanent correction of myopia, unless the lens is surgically removed.

Dr. Wright in Rapid City is dedicated to providing the right vision correction procedure for you. To find out if you are a good candidate for LASIK, or if another option is more appropriate for your vision correction needs, please contact Wright Vision Center at 605-718-5123 or wrightvisioncenter.com to schedule an appointment.

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Types of Cataract Surgery

types-of-cataract-surgeryIf the lens inside your eye has become cloudy, you may want to consider cataract surgery. During cataract surgery in Rapid City, Dr. Wright removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with an artificial lens (called an intraocular lens: IOL) to restore clear vision. The procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis and does not require an overnight stay in a hospital or other care facility. There are three types of cataract surgery, the most common form today is a process called phacoemulsification.

  1. Phacoemulsification: With the use of an operating microscope, your surgeon will make a very small incision in the surface of the eye in or near the cornea. A thin ultrasound probe, which is often confused for a laser, is inserted into the eye and uses ultrasonic vibrations to dissolve (phacoemulsify) the clouded lens. These tiny fragmented pieces are then suctioned out through the same ultrasound probe. Once the cataract is removed, an artificial lens is placed into the thin capsular bag that the cataract occupied. This lens is essential to help your eye focus after surgery. In this most modern method, cataract surgery can usually be performed in less than 30 minutes and usually requires only minimal sedation and numbing eye drops, no stitches to close the wound and no eye patch after surgery.
  2. Extracapsular Cataract Surgery: This procedure is used mainly for very advanced cataracts where the lens is too dense to dissolve into fragments (phacoemulsify). This technique requires a larger incision so that the cataract can be removed in one piece without being fragmented inside the eye. An artificial lens is placed in the same capsular bag as with the phacoemulsification technique. This surgical technique requires a various number of sutures to close the larger wound, and visual recovery is often slower. Extracapsular cataract extraction usually requires an injection of numbing medication around the eye and an eye patch after surgery.
  3. Intracapsular Cataract Surgery: This surgical technique requires an even larger wound than extracapsular surgery and the surgeon removes the entire lens and the surrounding capsule together. This technique requires the intraocular lens to be placed in a different location – in front of the iris. This method is rarely used today but can still be useful in cases of significant trauma.

For more information about cataract treatments including these cataract surgery procedures, contact Wright Vision Center at 605-718-5123 or wrightvisioncenter.com.

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Dry Eye and LASIK

dry-eyes-and-lasikDry eyes are no fun: They itch, sting and tear up. They’re a possible side effect of LASIK eye surgery, but usually they clear up within the first year of recovery. It is important when considering LASIK that you understand the possibility of experiencing dry eyes after your procedure. If you suffer from dry eye prior to LASIK, proper preoperative treatment can be provided to you so that you will have the best possible LASIK results and experience.

The eye requires that it be continuously covered by natural tears produced by the eye. Dry eye is a condition where not enough tears are produced to keep the eye comfortable and healthy.

In Rapid City, Dr. Wright uses several diagnostic tests to help diagnose dry eyes. There are many ways to treat dry eyes depending on your particular situation.

Dry Eye Before LASIK Surgery

Having dry eyes does not rule you out as a candidate for LASIK surgery, although it may postpone your treatment. Patients with dry eyes who wish to undergo LASIK require treatment for their dry eyes prior to undergoing surgery.

A normal, healthy tear film is a requirement for a successful LASIK eye surgery procedure. A healthy tear film contains several components that help to protect the eye against infection, and it provides a smooth optical surface that is integral to clear vision.

Before LASIK and during your consultation, Dr. Wright  will evaluate your tear film and may measure the quantity of tears you produce. The goal is for Dr. Wright to be comfortable with the quantity of your tears so that you can get the best possible results from your LASIK procedure.

Dry Eye After LASIK Surgery

It is normal and expected that during the creation of the flap in surgery a certain number of the corneal nerves will be temporarily damaged. This means that for some time after your LASIK procedure, the regular nerve impulses that ordinarily would have told the lacrimal gland to produce tears will be interrupted, which may cause dry eyes. This is a normal and expected part of the healing process after LASIK. Every LASIK patient will need to use lubricating and moisturizing drops often after their procedure. In almost all cases dry eye symptoms disappear within a couple of months—and sometimes within a few weeks.

If you are interested in LASIK and would like to set up a consultation, contact Wright Vision Center at 605-718-5123 or wrightvisioncenter.com today.

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Is Cataract Surgery Safe?

is-cataract-surgery-safeA cataract is a clouding of the eye lens that can make it hard for you to see. The condition is most common in older people, but anyone can have one.

As cataracts grow, they can cause symptoms that interfere with daily activities. Cataracts can cause dim, blurred, yellow or double vision. This can make it hard to read, work on a computer and anything else that calls for clear eyesight. You may also experience poor night vision and find it harder to drive when it’s dark. People with advanced cataracts can even fail the vision part of a driver’s test. Cataracts can make you more sensitive to glare from the sun. You might see a halo around bright lights. This can keep you from being outdoors as much as you’d like.

If you have any of these symptoms, cataract surgery could be a great solution for you. During cataract surgery, the lens inside your eye that has become cloudy is removed and replaced with an artificial lens (called an intraocular lens – IOL) to restore clear vision. The procedure typically is performed on an outpatient basis and does not require an overnight stay in a hospital or other care facility.

Cataract surgery is one of the safest, most successful surgeries involving the eye. Although cataract surgery is very safe and side effects are rare, there is a chance you could experience a complication such as:

  • Eye infection or swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Retinal detachment
  • Feeling of pressure inside your eye
  • Loosening of new implant
  • Fluid buildup in eye
  • Drooping eyelid

As your eyes heal in the days following surgery, you may experience various visual disturbances such as glare and halos. This is normal and they usually subside over time.

Most people notice a significant improvement in their vision and can resume everyday activities within 24 hours after cataract surgery. However, depending on which intraocular lens you have implanted, it can take between two to six months to completely adjust and for you to achieve your optimal vision. Because IOLs are made of durable material, it’s rare that they need to be replaced.

If you are ready to see clearly again, contact Wright Vision Center in Rapid City to schedule a cataract surgery consultation.  Call 605-718-5123 or visit wrightvisioncenter.com to schedule your appointment today!

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PRK Healing Times

prk-healing-timesPhotorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is a type of laser eye surgery procedure intended to correct a person’s vision, reducing their dependency on glasses or contact lenses. PRK was the first type of laser eye surgery for vision correction and is the predecessor of LASIK. PRK healing times are longer than recovery from LASIK surgery. It may be days or a couple of weeks before your eyesight improves, and even longer for your vision to stabilize. Most PRK patients in Rapid City can usually resume activities such as driving a car one to three weeks after surgery, but it can take three to six months before vision is completely clear and stable.

In PRK, the thin outer layer of the cornea (epithelium) is removed and discarded. Next, Dr. Wright uses an excimer laser to precisely reshape the curvature of the corneal surface. This computer-controlled, highly specialized excimer laser delivers pulses of cool ultraviolet light that remove microscopic amounts of tissue in a precise pattern. A soft contact lens “bandage” is then placed on the cornea to help protect the eye. New epithelial cells grow back in about four or five days, after which the bandage contact lens is removed by Dr. Wright.

Though PRK recovery takes a bit longer than the healing time from LASIK eye surgery, PRK is still commonly performed and offers advantages over LASIK for some patients.

If you would like more information about PRK as well as other laser eye surgery procedures, be sure to contact Wright Vision Center at 605-718-5123 or wrightvisioncenter.com.

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Vision Correction

vision-correctionIf you’ve thought about vision correction surgery, also called refractive eye surgery, you should know that there are many options available which are different types of laser surgery. There’s the popular and well-known LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis), but also wavefront-guided LASIK and Epi-Lasik, PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) and LASEK (laser epithelial keratomileusis).

The scope of vision problems that can be corrected with refractive eye surgery has expanded greatly in the past few decades. Refractive problems that can be corrected include nearsightedness (myopia), astigmatism (unevenly curved cornea), and farsightedness (hyperopia).

LASIK works by changing the shape of the cornea – the clear portion of the front of the eye – so that light rays focus on the retina and improve vision. A thin flap is created in the cornea. The exposed corneal surface is then reshaped using an excimer laser and the flap is replaced.

Epi-LASIK is an alternative to traditional LASIK, in which an instrument called an epi-keratome is used to separate a very thin sheet of the very top (epithelial) layer of the cornea, which is then moved aside so that the cornea can be sculpted for vision correction.

Wavefront-guided LASIK uses the most advanced technology to address the finer imperfections in the eye. This type of LASIK involves measuring the eye from front to back with a special laser, using what’s called wavefront technology, to create a three-dimensional (3-D) image of the eye. The information contained in the wavefront map guides the laser in customizing the treatment to your individual visual system.

PRK was the first form of laser vision correction surgery. PRK differs from LASIK in that the surgeon does not create a flap. PRK is a good option for patients with thin corneas.

LASEK combines many of the benefits of other vision correction surgeries, notably LASIK and PRK. LASEK can be a good option for patients with thin or unusually shaped corneas.

If you’re a candidate for refractive eye surgery, the surgery should be tailored not only to your vision problems, but also to factors such as age, occupation and lifestyle. There’s no one-size-fits-all surgery. To find out more about vision correction in Rapid City, contact Wright Vision Center at 605-718-5123 or wrightvisioncenter.com to schedule your consultation with Dr. Wright.

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Can LASIK Fix Astigmatism?

lasik-astigmatismIn a perfect world, all eyes would have a nice spherical shape and be perfect optical lenses. In the real world, the eye is usually not perfectly shaped and visual clarity is compromised. When astigmatism is present, the eye has a shape like a football set on one end. This asymmetrical shape of the eye causes the light rays traveling through it to scatter and not be clear. Astigmatism is a very common vision problem. Despite its big, somewhat scary-sounding name, astigmatism is simply a refractive error like nearsightedness and farsightedness and it can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses and LASIK surgery.

The ultra-precise lasers used for LASIK surgery can be programmed to reshape the cornea so the front surface of the eye is more symmetrical, thereby eliminating vision problems caused by astigmatism.

Most of the time astigmatism can be fully corrected with a single LASIK procedure. High amounts of astigmatism can be corrected with LASIK, though this increases the likelihood a follow-up LASIK enhancement may be needed to fine-tune the correction.

LASIK for astigmatism is an excellent option when compared to other alternatives like eyeglasses or contact lenses. Eyeglasses and contacts compensate for the abnormal curvature of the astigmatism with a lens that is curved in the opposite way from the cornea, effectively cancelling out the distortion. Unlike LASIK, these are short-term corrections to the symptoms associated with astigmatism – blurry vision, eyestrain and headaches. They can also be disorienting since, by definition, these lenses are non-uniform in shape.  Astigmatism contacts can also rotate out of alignment causing blurring to occur.  And all contact lenses carry the risk of infection, inflammation or corneal damage.

LASIK for astigmatism in Rapid City involves Dr. Wright making a thin, small circular hinge cut into your cornea. Dr. Wright folds back the hinged flap and then reshapes the cornea using a cool excimer laser. Many people choose to have LASIK for astigmatism over other refractive surgeries because it is very safe and the recovery time is very short.

If you are considering LASIK to correct your astigmatism, it’s important to discuss your options with a surgeon or eye care professional. Contact Wright Vision Center at 605-718-5123 or wrightvisioncenter.com to schedule your consultation today and see if LASIK is the right choice for you.

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Does LASIK Hurt?

does-lasik-hurtLASIK eye surgery is a very popular procedure in part because it is patient-friendly in many ways. The procedure only takes about 15 minutes for both eyes, and the healing process begins immediately with little to no discomfort. Another perk is that it doesn’t take long to start seeing positive results, and getting back to most of your favorite activities. Although the results of LASIK surgery are very consistent, there are still questions to be answered.

One of the most common questions is: does LASIK hurt? The short answer is no, for most people, it doesn’t. In order to explain the long answer, let us look at why LASIK eye surgery is able to deliver results with very minimal pain or discomfort.

In order to understand why LASIK causes little or no pain, it helps to understand a bit about how the procedure works. The goal of LASIK is to gently reshape the cornea, treating only very small portions of tissue, by using a precise laser. Throughout the procedure in Rapid City, Dr. Wright will also take every step to ensure that you are comfortable.

Local Anesthetic – Before your LASIK eye surgery begins, Dr. Wright will use eye drops to numb the surface of your eyes. These eye drops feel just like the type that you’d normally use to lubricate dry eyes, but they also contain a numbing agent so that you shouldn’t feel anything, except some pressure, during your LASIK procedure.

During LASIK Surgery – During surgery, the first step is creating the flap. This may cause you to feel a pressure sensation, but it is more of an odd or uncomfortable feeling than a painful one. Your eyelids will be held open with a special tool during the procedure, and while this may feel a little strange it is unlikely to cause any pain.

Excimer Laser – The cool beam of the excimer laser used to perform LASIK eye surgery is incredibly precise and guided by a computer which maps the structure of your eyes down to a microscopic level. During the portion of LASIK when your cornea is being reshaped, you actually shouldn’t feel any discomfort at all.

After your LASIK eye surgery is complete, you may notice slight pain, itching or discomfort as your eyes start to heal and your vision stabilizes. These symptoms are common and typically clear up quickly as your eyes go through the healing process. So while no surgery can truly claim to be completely pain-free, LASIK eye surgery is about as close as it gets – both during and after your procedure.

To learn more about LASIK or to schedule your LASIK consultation in Rapid City, contact Wright Vision Center at 605-718-5123 or wrightvisioncenter.com.

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How Old Do You Have To Be To Have LASIK?

age-for-lasikIf you have considered vision correction surgery, you may have wondered how old you have to be to have LASIK. LASIK has been FDA approved for patients 18 or older. There is no ideal age to have the procedure, but it is important to have a stable prescription and, of course, healthy eyes.

One benefit of having LASIK done when you are younger is that there are more years to enjoy the benefit of improved vision, the eyes tend to heal quicker and stabilize faster and there are fewer side effects such as dry eyes. There are also fewer problems with reading vision than in older patients.

At first LASIK seemed to be most popular with an older demographic of an average age around late 30s or early 40s but now we are seeing many more patients in their 20s who have discovered the benefits of laser vision correction.

For patients in their 30s or 40s, LASIK is a wonderful procedure, but special consideration must be given to the management of presbyopia (need for reading glasses after age  40).

For patients in their 50s and 60s LASIK is still safe and effective, but other factors, such as possible cataracts, that start appearing at this age must be evaluated. If you suffer from a cataract, LASIK will not improve your vision and cataract surgery should be considered.

It is not uncommon for patients to undergo LASIK in their 70s and 80s as an enhancement as part of premium cataract surgery.

If you would like more information about LASIK, contact Wright Vision Center at 605-718-5123 or wrightvisioncenter.com. Dr. Wright has helped thousands of patients in Rapid City achieve optimal vision and freedom from glasses and contacts and would love to help you also.

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LASIK Risks

lasik-risksMillions of Americans have had LASIK eye surgery to correct their vision since it was introduced in the United States several decades ago. Although LASIK has an excellent safety profile and a very high success rate, there are potential risks to consider. Sight-threatening complications such as significant loss of vision from LASIK surgery are extremely rare, and many side effects and laser eye surgery complications can be resolved with additional surgery or medical treatment.

The first step is to determine if you are a good candidate for vision correction surgery. Dr. Wright in Rapid City will perform a thorough diagnostic eye exam to determine your suitability for LASIK surgery.

He will evaluate:

  • The shape and thickness of your cornea
  • Your refractive errors and pupil size
  • The moistness of your eyes (to check for dry eye syndrome)
  • Your general health and medical history
  • Any medications you are taking

Common LASIK risks and complications to be aware of:

Temporary discomfort and vision disturbances. Discomfort during the first few days following LASIK surgery, such as mild irritation and light sensitivity, is normal and to be expected. During the first few weeks or months you also may experience: halos; glare and starbursts in low-light environments, especially at night; dry eye symptoms; hazy vision; and reduced sharpness of vision. In most cases, these are temporary and disappear completely within3-6 months.

Flap complications. The LASIK procedure involves the creation of a thin, hinged flap on the front surface of the cornea. This is lifted during surgery for laser reshaping of the eye. The flap is then replaced to form a natural bandage. If the LASIK flap is not made correctly, it may fail to adhere properly to the eye’s surface or microscopic wrinkles called striae (STRIE-ee) could develop in the flap. These flap complications can cause optical aberrations and distorted vision.

Dry eyes after LASIK. Some people who have LASIK surgery experience a decrease in tear production that can cause eye discomfort and blurred vision. Dry eye syndrome after LASIK surgery is usually temporary and can be effectively treated with lubricating eye drops or other measures. Dry eye problems usually disappear when healing of the eye is complete, which can take up to 6 months. People who already have severe dry eye usually are eliminated as LASIK candidates.

Significant undercorrection, overcorrection or regression. Not everyone will achieve 20/20 vision after LASIK eye surgery, and contact lenses or eyeglasses for some or all activities may still be required in very rare cases. If the laser removes too much or too little corneal tissue, or your eye’s healing response is not typical, your visual outcome will be less than optimal. One possible cause of a less-than-perfect outcome is that your eyes did not respond to laser eye surgery in a predictable manner. Another possible cause is that your eyesight may have been optimal shortly after LASIK but regressed over time due to over-healing. In most cases, a significant undercorrection or regression can be successfully treated with additional laser vision correction after your surgeon confirms your residual refractive error is stable.

Eye infection. Infections rarely occur after LASIK because the corneal flap acts as a natural bandage. Still, it is very important to use medicated eye drops as directed after your LASIK procedure to avoid infection and control inflammation as your eyes heal.

Choosing a skilled and experienced LASIK eye surgeon can help reduce these risks and enable you to achieve the best possible results from laser eye surgery. If you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Wright to discuss if LASIK is right for you, contact Wright Vision Center at 605-718-5123 or wrightvisioncenter.com today.

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