Today, we take for granted enjoying many of the technological advancements in medicine, engineering, and electronics that popular culture phenomena like TV’s Star Trek first predicted some forty years ago. Similarly, refractive surgery has been developing at warp speed and is now a completely different field than back in those early years.
In 2005, the ICL (Implantable Contact Lens) was approved for the treatment of patients outside the range of LASIK. In 2009, LASIK volumes were down 40-50%, while ICL volumes were up 25%. ICL is a more technically demanding surgery, and most surgeons are now just taking the training course.
Dougherty Laser Vision believes ICL will replace LASIK.
Where is the field of refractive surgery going in the future? Dougherty Laser Vision believes that the ICL procedure will replace LASIK as the procedure of choice at all ranges of approval (moderate nearsightedness [-3] and above). Given that 50% of patients who undergo vision surgery are low myopes (under -3D) LASIK and PRK will still be very commonly performed on these patients. Because we get such great results with the current lasers at these levels, LASIK will not change much in the foreseeable future. Perhaps small modifications in the lasers will make the procedure a little safer and a little more accurate, but it will be hard to improve upon what is currently available.
One laser technology that is likely to be widely adopted in the near future is one called topography-guided LASIK, of which Paul Dougherty, M.D. was one of the lead investigators in the United States. Current “wavefront-guided” lasers utilize only 200 data points in an attempt to improve vision quality and lessen night vision symptoms after LASIK. Topography-guided LASIK utilizes 7000 data points to optimize visual outcomes particularly night vision. As a result, in our FDA study of this technology, over half of the eyes achieved “super-vision” (vision better than 20/20). Importantly, this was actually the first time in the history of LASIK where we were consistently improving, rather than diminishing, night vision. This technology is also very useful for correcting vision in patients who have ended up with irregular treatments or worsened night vision. While this is better technology for certain patients with irregular corneas, for the average patient, it does not necessarily give a better outcome than currently available lasers.
Inter Ocular Lenses are also coming in the future!
The other changes in technology that Dougherty Laser Vision sees in the future have to do with use of IOLs (Inter Ocular Lenses), especially with regard to correcting presbyopia and cataracts. Over the past few years, use of IOLs (refractive lensectomy) has increased dramatically in our field because of the superior quality of vision compared to LASIK, the permanence of the procedure (you will never significantly change prescription or develop a cataract), and the emergence of presbyopic-treating IOLs. As they improve, accommodating (near-enhancing) IOLs will become the technology of the future and will be offered to every patient over age forty-eight to fifty to correct their vision, regardless of prescription.
Eventually (though not in our lifetime) these accommodating IOLs or lens replacement materials will closely simulate the eye of a twenty-year old, allowing 100% of the population to consider these lenses when they become presbyopic or develop cataracts.
To see if you are a candidate for LASIK or cataract surgery call our office today at (805)-987-5300 and set up your free consultation. We serve patients in Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, and Los Angeles County with Laser Eye Surgery offices located in Camarillo, Westlake Village, and Beverly Hills.