Gone in 40 Seconds… PART 1

By Dr. Lawrence Jacobs

In 1994, the FDA approved Lasik and PRK (PhotoRefractive Keratectomy) in the United States. Doctors in Canada were the first to perform these procedures in 1987. I was one of the first doctors in Colorado to assist my patients through their decision, education process, and care after the laser procedure.

Patients would ask if I had the Lasik procedure on my own eyes. At that point, technology had not quite caught up to how bad my prescription was. I have worn glasses since the first grade and contact lenses for astigmatism since eighth grade. In the 90’s, we could do most nearsighted prescriptions and up to two units of farsightedness. My prescription had four units of farsightedness. So I had to wait. In my opinion, it seems that Dentists have bad teeth; Eye Doctors have bad eyes… It’s the Psychiatrists that you have to worry about!

After I had helped thousands of other patients with their laser procedures, Alcon developed a new laser, the Allegretto. This laser is able to go up to six units of farsightedness. The Allegretto has many advantages over other lasers. Less actual laser time produced a better profile near the edges of the cornea and therefore less distortion after surgery. With this new advanced technology, I finally had a possibility of getting the procedure myself.

After a few measurements with the Allegretto software, I discussed my options with my associate, Dr. Quinton and with Dr. Jackson, the optometrist at the laser center. My cornea was the right shape to have the procedure! Now the decision was to choose which laser procedure was right for me, Lasik or PRK?

With Lasik, the surgeon creates a corneal flap and then applies the laser, producing results in just one day. With PRK, the laser is applied to the front surface of the cornea without creating a flap, which takes longer to heal and yields final results in about two months. There are pros and cons with either procedure. I knew that PRK would take more patience, but I really wanted the best and most safe results I could obtain. I decided on PRK because of my family history of retinal detachment and glaucoma.

I wanted the procedure completed between golf and ski season. On August 24th 2012, I arrived at the surgery center. The surgeon, Dr. Johnson and his staff were very professional and friendly. As I lay looking up, Dr. Johnson talked me through each step of the procedure. It was like watching a movie from the camera’s perspective and my eye was the movie screen. The front part of my eye was prepared, the laser fired for 20 seconds, my eye was cleaned and a bandage contact lens was put on for me. I just laid there squeezing my stress/distraction ball. The other eye went through the same thing. I did not feel any pain during the procedure. After 40 seconds of the laser working, I sat up and I could see across the room. It was not completely crisp vision, but a whole lot better than 20 minutes ago!

Check in next week for part 2 of my Laser Eye Surgery story