ST. GEORGE – We live in a high-definition world; a world where manufacturers of televisions, tablets, smartphones and computer screens are always looking to bring the best viewing experience possible to the audience. People spend thousands of dollars annually to get the latest in HD, plasma or 3-D technology so they can see the picture better.
What if you were told you could see with more clarity and better definition just in one outpatient eye procedure? For people living with cataracts and astigmatism, exciting technological advances in lasers can do just that.
“Over the past few years there have been a lot of advances in cataract surgery,” said Dr. Jason Hendrix of the St. George Eye Center.
At the St. George Eye Center, Hendrix and Dr. Snow Slade perform many surgeries to remove cataracts from patients’ eyes who, typically due to aging, experience dull or blurry vision. Because of advances in technology, particularly where lasers are concerned, the doctors’ practice is able to offer many options to help improve a patient’s vision beyond traditional cataract surgery.
In the past, cataract surgery was kind of a one-size-fits-all surgery, Hendrix said, everyone got the same procedure. Today, the process is much more customizable and the patient experience is much more personal.
“Nowadays we spend much more time talking to our patients, getting to know their lifestyle and their personality and kind of figuring out what is going to work best,” Hendrix said.
Laser-assisted cataract surgery for astigmatism correction
Thirteen years ago when Hendrix first started doing cataract surgery, he said, they didn’t have as many options for patients with different needs, including patients who suffered from astigmatism.
While a traditional cataract surgery could remove the cataract, patients with astigmatism would still experience blurry vision and continue to need glasses to see.
“Astigmatism is one of the more common reasons that patients wear glasses,” Hendrix said, adding that the condition refers to the shape of the eye.
If you have astigmatism, Hendrix said, it means your eye is shaped like a football when it should be shaped like a basketball.
Information from Web MD says this of astigmatism:
Under normal circumstances, when light enters the eye, it refracts, or bends evenly, creating a clear view of the object. However, the eye of a person with astigmatism is shaped more like a football or the back of a spoon. For this person, when light enters the eye it is refracted more in one direction than the other, allowing only part of the object to be in focus at one time. Objects at any distance can appear blurry and wavy.
“So astigmatism patients have an abnormal shaped cornea that it requires they wear glasses to see clearly,” Hendrix said. “Traditional cataract surgery didn’t necessarily correct that so with the advent of laser-assisted cataract surgery, I can take somebody who has an abnormal shaped cornea or has astigmatism and correct it so that when we get done with surgery they don’t need to wear glasses.”
It is a process that can be life-changing to many who are finally able to see clearly without the aid of glasses; and it only takes about 10 minutes to complete the outpatient procedure.
While the laser is primarily used to correct the abnormally shaped cornea during the laser-assisted cataract surgery, Hendrix said they are finding that the laser can be valuable in some of the more delicate steps of cataract surgery which helps to make an already safe procedure even safer.
“Anytime you can improve precision and improve accuracy and decrease risk, those are positive things,” Hendrix said. “Eyes are where we have had significant advances.”
Of course with advances in technology also comes an increase in cost. Cataract surgery is generally covered by insurance, Hendrix said, but as astigmatism correction is an optional procedure it is not covered – a fact which often makes patients reluctant to opt for the procedure.
“These technologies are great but there is some cost and patients have to be willing to put some money out to get those benefits,” Hendrix said. “If you want to get rid of your glasses and get rid of astigmatism there probably is going to be some cost to doing that but I think it’s almost always worth it. Patients just have better outcomes when you eliminate astigmatism and take advantage of the technologies that are available today.”
Hendrix compared having the surgery to buying an expensive high-definition television. Many people are willing to spend thousands of dollars to be able to see a better picture but are hesitant to pay for a procedure that will ultimately give them high-definition vision of their world.
With so many wonderful options available in today’s technologically advanced world, Hendrix said, now is the time to invest in your eyes and invest in your vision.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- St. George Eye Center | Address: 1054 E. Riverside Drive, St. George | Telephone: 435-628-4507 | Website
- Other locations: Pecan Plaza, 52 S. 850 West Ste. 202A, Hurricane
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