So Long, Specs
What if someone told you that the continuous search for your reading glasses could be over in a mere 15 minutes? That’s the amount of time it takes for Dr. Jason Stahl to perform an innovative laser lens replacement procedure at Durrie Vision, allowing patients like Carol Cattaneo to walk out of his office feeling like the dictionary doesn’t have enough words to describe the way it’s changed her life.
“The brightness, color and clarity is amazing,” says Cattaneo, an active 64-year-old from Mission who says that her eyesight was continuing to get worse prior to the procedure. “I feel like one of those Tide commercials where everything that I’m seeing now is like that extra-bright white shirt.”
Cattaneo counts on her eyesight on a daily basis. As a wound nurse, she must be precise and exact when evaluating, measuring and dressing patients’ injuries. Her declining eyesight led her to Durrie Vision in 2004 where she underwent a corneal LASIK procedure. After that, she continued to go to Durrie for an annual eye exam that recently revealed the formation of cataracts and discoloration. Because of her condition, Cattaneo was the perfect candidate for laser lens replacement.
“I can’t give anybody the eyes they had when they were 21,” says Jason Stahl, MD and assistant clinical professor of opthamology at the University of Kansas Medical Center who specializes in lens implant surgery at Durrie Vision. “But it’s a great procedure for anyone getting into their 50s and beyond who wants to see better.”
Durrie Vision added laser lens replacement to its menu of patient offerings this summer. Since then, Dr. Stahl says that he has performed the surgery on 10 to 15 patients per week. Durrie Vision is the first medical practice in the Midwest and the fifth in the United States to pioneer the procedure, which is different than traditional lens and cataract surgery.
“Laser technology has allowed the replacement to be faster and more accurate,” says Stahl. “The goal with refractive lens surgery is that patients never have to wear glasses, contacts, or bifocals again.”
Stahl credits the success of the refractive surgery to the new femtosecond lasers that he calls “revolutionary.” Stahl says that the procedure is often prescribed for patients who are severely farsighted or extremely nearsighted. Candidates are similar to Cattaneo and may have an aging lens that is becoming thick, dense, and cloudy. If treatment is withheld, blurry vision and cataracts may form, causing the patient to undergo cataract surgery. For these patients, laser lens replacement may prevent future cataract surgery.
Despite glowing reports from Cattaneo and others following laser lens replacement, Stahl says that many patients are hesitant to sign up for the procedure. That’s where he and his team step in.
“We spend a lot of time showing patients the way that this will go,” says Stahl. “We have a goal called the ‘lifetime vision plan’ for patients where we want to restore vision now and help them move forward.”
Cattaneo admits that she was nervous prior to surgery, but a computer simulation of the procedure helped ease her fears, along with a call to a Durrie Vision counselor.
“I knew that this was the best place in America to get this done,” says Cattaneo. “But I had to go home and think about it.”
Cattaneo says that the outpatient procedure was painless along with the prep work required prior to surgery. She credits her calm demeanor to a nurse who patted her leg throughout the procedure and also called to check on her when she got home.
“The eye drop schedule concerned me before surgery,” says Cattaneo who simply wrote everything on her calendar to keep on task. “But I was perfectly at ease during the procedure.”
The price for laser lens replacement varies, but it could cost as much as $4,000 per eye. It was a charge that Cattaneo was willing to pay to say ‘So long!’ to her specs.
“I haven’t picked up a pair of glasses since,” says Cattaneo. “I’ve never been able to see this well.”
Meet the Doctor
Jason Stahl, MD and assistant clinical professor of opthamology at the University of Kansas Medical Center, specializes in lens implant surgery at Overland Park-based Durrie Vision and suggests that the best way to take care of your eyes is to have them checked regularly by a healthcare provider or vision specialist. A person with normal eyesight may only need to see an eye doctor every two to four years while a person with poor eyesight who wears contacts or glasses may need to visit the eye doctor annually. Stahl suggests that patients come in for a consultation prior to considering laser lens replacement or any other surgical procedure.
For additional information about laser lens vision correction, visit www.laserlenscorrection.com.