Casey's new Summit Autonomous Laser allows surgeons to treat a wider range of patients
Since the age of four, Debbie Hlebichuk has relied on eyeglasses or contacts to see the world clearly. Now, at the age of 34, new technology at the Casey Eye Institute on the campus of Oregon Health & Science University has made her glasses and contacts disappear. Debbie was one of more than 100 people who were on a waiting list for treatment using the latest Laser-Assisted Intrastromal In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) surgical equipment. After installing a Summit Autonomous LADARvision laser in April, Casey is now one of a handful of eye centers across the Northwest able to provide the entire range of LASIK vision correction approved by the FDA.
"I wanted to wake up in the middle of the night and be able to read the alarm clock," Debbie explained. She lives an active lifestyle, and finds glasses and contacts difficult to deal with. A high level of astigmatism, where the eye's cornea is asymmetrically curved causing distorted vision, kept her from receiving LASIK surgery at an earlier date. With the new laser, Debbie's astigmatism now is well within Casey's expanded range of treatment.
"Before we received the LADARvision laser, Casey Vision Correction Center had the ability to treat approximately 90 percent of cases currently approved by the FDA. While there will always be patients who are not good candidates for laser vision correction, that number is diminishing," said Casey LASIK surgeon Larry Rich, M.D., professor of ophthalmology in OHSU's School of Medicine.
Specifically, the new laser extends the range of patients with hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism that can receive effective treatment. "In addition, people with certain eye features, such as those with large pupils, previously would not have been candidates for LASIK surgery at Casey. Now there is hope for many of those people," added Rich.
Casey's new laser also features technology developed by NASA, which allows the laser to track and adjust to the fine uncontrolled movements of the eye at a rate of 4,000 times per second.
In general, ideal candidates for LASIK surgery are 21 years of age or older with healthy corneas. Candidates must not have had a significant change in their prescription in the last 12 months. People with certain medical conditions, including pregnant women, are not candidates.
As for Debbie, now that she is glasses-free she's planning for an active new career to match her active lifestyle. Her goal is to become a law enforcement officer in the Portland area. "People talk all the time about miracle surgeries," she said. "For me, this is a miracle."