Wor­ries are eased thanks to Amer­ica’s top guns

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Laser Eye Surgery -

ADE­CI­SION by NASA to ap­prove a revo­lu­tion­ary new laser eye surgery tech­nique will give Aus­tralians con­sid­er­ing eye surgery added peace of mind’’, says oph­thal­mol­o­gist and ex­pert in laser corneal surgery, Dr Michael Lawless.

Dr Lawless, who is med­i­cal di­rec­tor of the Vi­sion Group and a con­sul­tant in oph­thal­mol­ogy to the Aus­tralian Defence Force, says the new tech­nique, In­traLASIK, has had its safety and re­li­a­bil­ity ex­haus­tively and in­de­pen­dently tested.

Safety is a main con­cern for peo­ple con­tem­plat­ing laser vi­sion cor­rec­tion,’’ says Dr Lawless. ‘‘ When it comes to their eyes, peo­ple want to be re­as­sured the pro­ce­dure of­fers the high­est level of safety and ac­cu­racy.’’

In­traLASIK pro­vides added safety and pre­ci­sion be­cause it now uses a laser com­pared with a hand­held mi­cro­ker­atome blade to cre­ate the flap.

The most se­vere sight- threat­en­ing com­pli­ca­tions in LASIK are gen­er­ally re­lated to use of the mi­cro­ker­atome in the first step and the use of an all- laser method re­duces this risk.

Dr Lawless says key ben­e­fits of the blade- free tech­nol­ogy over ear­lier meth­ods of re­frac­tive eye surgery in­clude: bet­ter vi­sion, less dis­com­fort and faster re­cov­ery time, which have led to a strong pa­tient pref­er­ence for In­traLASIK.

LASIK can help most peo­ple achieve 20/ 20 vi­sion, with min­i­mal dis­com­fort in about 10 min­utes.

The ul­tra- fast laser al­lows the sur­geon to tai­lor a corneal flap of pre­cise size, shape and depth in in­di­vid­u­als to max­imise im­prove­ments in vi­sion, says Dr Lawless.

‘‘ By cut­ting that first layer very thin, you have more cornea to work with,’’ he adds.

The corneal flap is then locked back into place af­ter vi­sion is cor­rected to al­low for rapid heal­ing. Most pa­tients can see well enough to drive a car a day or two af­ter surgery.

NASA waited un­til happy with some of the stud­ies which showed vi­sion was bet­ter than they could get with con­tact lenses - and that they could with­stand high G- forces,’’ Dr Lawless says.

They wanted to make sure the cornea wasn’t go­ing to change un­der high G- forces. It was in­cred­i­bly use­ful to get good, solid data.

‘‘ They put peo­ple in the mil­i­tary who had had the surgery through bat­ter­ies of tests that tested their vis­ual func­tion un­der dif­fer­ent con­di­tions. For ex­am­ple, shoot­ing at dusk, shoot­ing at al­ti­tude, shoot­ing straight af­ter com­ing out of the wa­ter.

‘‘ The Aus­tralian mil­i­tary fol­lowed the work very closely and they en­cour­aged peo­ple in cer­tain jobs - bomb dis­posal Navy clear­ance divers, and any­one in the SAS - to have this done.

Dr Lawless says the new tech­nique has slashed the chances of com­pli­ca­tions.

He sug­gests the chance of a vis­ual com­pli­ca­tion which is se­ri­ous is one in 20,000. Prior to in­terLASIK it was one in 5000.

NASA’s land­mark de­ci­sion to al­low the use of blade- free LASIK tech­nol­ogy in as­tro­nauts reaf­firms the safety and pre­ci­sion of In­traLASIK.

For many peo­ple, the se­cu­rity of know­ing the blade- free tech­nique has been used in nearly two mil­lion pro­ce­dures, in­clud­ing more than 25,000 in Aus­tralia, is in­valu­able.’’

Dr Lawless says that blade- free LASIK surgery is ex­pected to reach new heights as more and more Aus­tralians re­alise the ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy can help them im­prove their qual­ity of life and re­alise their full po­ten­tial.

Clin­i­cal stud­ies show when blade­free In­traLASIK is used in­stead of a mi­cro­ker­atome, more pa­tients achieve 20/ 20 vi­sion or bet­ter and re­port bet­ter qual­ity of vi­sion over­all in low light such as night or dusk.

Laser vi­sion cor­rec­tion has helped many peo­ple shed their glasses and en­hance per­for­mance in the most de­mand­ing of work­places and on the sports field.

Al­though laser vi­sion cor­rec­tion has been around for about a decade, con­cerns about the harsh avi­a­tion en­vi­ron­ment pre­vi­ously pre­vented its use in as­tro­nauts, ac­cord­ing to Dr Richard Wolfe, the Med­i­cal Di­rec­tor of VISTAeyes.

Now clin­i­cal tri­als, led by the US Defence De­part­ment, on spe­cial­ist mil­i­tary per­son­nel have demon­strated the pre­ci­sion and un­com­pro­mis­ing stan­dards of In­traLASIK. Some not- able re­sults in­clude:

In a study com­par­ing dif­fer­ent meth­ods to cre­ate the LASIK flap, 370 Navy per­son­nel un­der­went a LASIK pro­ce­dure with ei­ther the In­traLasik FS laser or mi­cro­ker­atome blade. One week af­ter surgery, more than 76 per cent of In­traLasik FS laser pa­tients achieved an un­cor­rected vis­ual acu­ity of at least 20/ 16 ( bet­ter than 20/ 20) com­pared with 58 per cent of mi­cro­ker­atome pa­tients. ● An eval­u­a­tion of 785 avi­a­tors showed 89 per cent of US Navy pi­lots rated their abil­ity to land on an air­craft car­rier as mod­er­ately to sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter af­ter laser vi­sion cor­rec­tion. ● A sep­a­rate study found that more than 90 per cent of marks­men had im­prove­ment in marks­man­ship skills af­ter laser vi­sion cor­rec­tion.

‘‘ As you can imag­ine, the safety and qual­ity of vi­sion is ex­tremely im­por­tant for top gun pi­lots and Navy SEALs, who op­er­ate un­der ex­treme con­di­tions in­clud­ing high al­ti­tude, dry air, wind blasts, G- forces and the depths of the ocean,’’ says Dr Wolfe, who is also an oph­thalmic ad­viser to the ADF and Vice- pres­i­dent of the Aus­tralasian So­ci­ety of Cataract and Re­frac­tive Sur­geons.

Given the ben­e­fits, it’s no sur­prise that more and more peo­ple who don’t train to fly into or­bit or fol­low Von Clause­witz’s dic­tum of en­gag­ing in pol­i­tics by other means are join­ing the ex­plor­ers and war­riors who have turned to laser vi­sion cor­rec­tion.

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The right stuff: NASA tests have shown the safety of the new In­traLASIK surgery tech­nique

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