Jill: I have so many pairs of glasses. I have glasses for distance, for reading and I have several pairs of each because I keep losing them and it drives me crazy. I’ve had friends over the years say to me Go and have laser surgery get rid of your glasses. So I thought but I kept hearing all these different opinions about who shouldn’t have it who could. So we thought to clear up some of these misconceptions and really get the true story we’d invite back. Dr Daya Sharma ophthalmologist from eye and laser surgeons to clear up some of those questions and give us some answers. Thanks for joining us again Doctor.
Dr Sharma: Thank you for having me again.
Annie: What is laser surgery?
Dr Sharma: So when people say laser surgery they’re usually referring to laser vision correction on the cornea which is the front window of the eye. And we’ve got lasers that can reshape the cornea and to change the prescription of the eye. So there’s a couple of ways that you can do that on the cornea. But we also have other methods that we can use to change the prescription of the eye. We can implant lenses on the inside of the eye between the natural lens and the iris and we can actually do what we call refractive lens exchange or clear lens exchange. Basically removing the natural lens of the eye before a cataract develops and put an artificial lens on the inside of the eye. So we have a broad range of different techniques that we can use. So not all of it is laser.
Jill: As I said, I get different opinions. You know people say to me oh you know you should have it then I’ll say oh you’re too old. So is there. Who gets the best results from it? Is there a particular patient or age group that gets the best results from laser surgery.
Dr Sharma: So if you if you look at a procedure like Lasik which is one of the most common procedures in the world. Lasik is a procedure to reshape the cornea and it has rapid visual recovery and has pretty comfortable visual recovery. It doesn’t affect the lens behind it. So somebody who is about 30 who has Lasik they’re going to get years of good vision if you correct both eyes for distance through the lens inside the eye is going to give them the focussing for near so they get in a sense more years and more value out of the procedure. Everybody is going to have the problem of focussing for near as they get older. So the medical term is Presbyopia. We sometimes refer to it as near vision failure. So if you get to about 42 to 45 and you’ve got great distance vision you will starts need reading glasses for close. So if you’re 50 we have to use a method to give you that near range. If we correct both eyes for distance then you’ll still need reading glasses for close up. And we have different ways of dealing with that.
Annie: Is it a complicated procedure?
Dr Sharma: It uses very sophisticated equipment. But from the patient point of view we do the procedure with sedation and eye drops to numb the eye. And it’s from the patient point of view. It’s not a difficult procedure. Most people are very surprised at how comfortable the process is to get a laser vision correction.
Jill: And what is their recovery time for something like that?
Dr Sharma: In terms of LASIK most people are seeing reasonably well immediately after the procedure. So they see with a bit of fogginess because there’s often a bit of fluid in the cornea. By the next day most people are saying really well and they’re usually pretty comfortable. That’s wonderful. So one of the big advantages of laser is that the turnaround time is very quick.
Annie: And is there any pain associated with it?
Dr Sharma: So when we do the procedure we use one laser to make a flap in the cornea and that requires a bit of pressure on the eye. So some people describe it like a like a thumb being pressed down on the eye. And that’s really important to keep the eyes still. To make that flat. So that’s that’s one part of a process that people have to be warned about.
Clinton: Doctor if I could ask about the expense? Is it reasonable having your sight restored and improved really? You can’t put a price on that. Is it a real option for a lot of people?
Dr Sharma: Absolutely. So a lot of people one of the commonest things you hear after somebody comes back is I wish I’d done it sooner. And you know some people have paid 10 times as much to have this result. And I’ve heard exactly the same thing. Yeah.
Jill: So that brings up the other question is there actually an age limit on is there an age where you can no longer have this surgery or not?
Dr Sharma: So if we’re talking about procedures on the cornea we don’t do them if there’s a cataract. So if we if we see a cataract then we’re going to operate on the cataract and correct the prescription that way. But you can do laser on the cornea even after someone’s had cataract surgery and sometimes we do that to touch up a prescription so we can adjust the prescription even after someone’s had cataract surgery.
Annie: And do you still have to wear glasses?
Dr Sharma: So depending on what we’re trying to do but often we’re trying to get people out of glasses.
Jill: Glasses totally or you still have to have your reading glasses?
Dr Sharma: So if we if we correct one eye for distance and one eye for a bit closer up. That’s one of the ways of. Yeah. We call it blended vision and that can get people out of glasses.
Jill: So I have the potential of getting rid of my distance glasses and my reading glasses?
Dr Sharma: So the important thing is to come in and have an assessment. So you know we have to make sure that the eye is safe to undergo any procedure obviously.
Jill: Well thank you so much, Dr Sharma, for coming in again given the obvious interest in all things to do with eyes. I’m sure we’ll be getting you to join us again soon.
Dr Sharma: That would be fantastic.
Clinton: Dr Daya Sharma ophthalmologist. And that is something that really makes a difference a real difference to people’s lives. This is Older, Wiser Happier on Talking Lifestyle.