The room was dark except for a faint night light. The patient laid back comfortably in the motorized chair and looked up at the red blinking light in the operating microscope. He could hear Dr. Bud Kurwa’s reassuring voice telling him the procedure was about 30 seconds more to go. He felt reassured and relaxed and all the anxiety he had when he first walked in to the Laser Center at USC vanished. He could hear the laser pulses 1,2,3,4…but could feel nothing.
The patient has spent three years researching the laser procedure before finally coming into the center. He was nearsighted and had struggled for years with thick, ugly glasses and more recently contact lenses. Because of his astigmatism, the lenses were never comfortable and he had spent thousands of dollars in vain looking for what he felt would be a miracle. About five years ago he heard about a new technology called Lasik that sounded promising.
He was cautious and waited on the sidelines continuing his struggle with glasses. He wanted to see how the results of this new technology would turn out monitoring the results from friends who had had the procedure, following the news about Lasik, scanning the Internet and attending seminars. Although fully knowledgeable about the technology, he could not convince himself to trust an unknown doctor with his eyes. Then three months ago, one of his cousins had his surgery with Dr. Kurwa and told him to go see him.
Before making an appointment he checked out Dr. Kurwa’s background. He found that Dr. Kurwa has been involved in ophthalmic laser technology for more than 20 years, had studied medicine in Oxford and Medicine in Birmingham, England and trained in ophthalmology in Chicago. He had also been assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Texas before moving into practice in Los Angeles. Dr. Kurwa was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and clinical assistant professor at USC.
In addition, the laser center itself was checked out. USC Doheny Laser Center was one of the best in the country. The Visx Star 2 laser was the latest technological innovation, an FDA approved laser with seven-beam technology that produced beautifully smooth results. Basic homework done, he went for a free evaluation with Dr. Kurwa and was comfortable with the doctor and his consultation.
So here he was looking at the blinking light when suddenly the laser noise stopped and he could hear the doctor’s voice telling him the procedure was over, had gone smoothly and he could now sit up.
Dr. Kurwa asked him casually to open his eyes and tell him what time it was. He opened his eyes and saw the clock on the wall. It was 3:35 p.m., he remembered he had looked at his wristwatch when he entered the laser room and it was 3:15 p.m. He thought, did anything really change? He had only been in the laser room about 10 minutes and had felt nothing.
For a fleeting second he felt concern and then suddenly put his hand up to adjust glasses and realized they were not on his face but lying on the table next to the laser. He had seen the time on the wall clock without any glasses or correction. He exclaimed that truly it was a miracle; surely it can’t be that simple. He had walked into the room 10 minutes ago and could not even see the wall clock without glasses let alone read the time on it. He looked around the room with no correction and could see everything.
This is the miracle of Lasik surgery. A revolutionary laser technology that is changing the way we see day in and day out. The technology is expensive, in the range of around $1,800 per eye but most patients feel that 10 years of contact lenses, glasses, solutions and eye exams will more than pay for the procedure and the risk of eye scratches, contact lens handling, the risk of infections, losing the lenses, etc. is all permanently eliminated.
Today laser technology has treated hundreds of thousands of patients who have been able to achieve freedom from glasses. The laser technology is FDA approved and is being used in almost all Western and many Eastern countries.
Potential risk of infection and vision loss are all but eliminated through the use of antibiotics for every patient.
The risk of incomplete vision correction where a second touch up treatment is needed (no charge to the patient) is about 7 to 10 percent and the ability to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism has made this technology a godsend for people with glasses and contact lens problems.