We are incredibly fortunate to live in a remarkable period of medical miracles. Procedures are being done these days that were unimaginable when I graduated medical school back in the 1980s. Technological innovation affects every aspect of our daily lives. Our phones are smarter, our computers are powerful enough to run small governments and our cars will soon drive themselves. As an undergraduate at Yale University, I became passionate about biochemistry, molecular biology and the application of hard science to heal the human body. As a medical student, I was always fascinated by the use of technology and its use to help save patients’ vision.
Ophthalmology has always embraced cutting edge technology. Lasers became part of the ophthalmic surgeons’ armamentarium as early as 1961, shortly after the development of the first ruby laser. Over the subsequent decades, ophthalmic surgery has stayed at the forefront of the use of technology to perform visual procedures on children, adults, and even our pets!
As a practicing ophthalmologist, I have always endeavored to bring state of the art technological innovations to the Pee Dee. When performed by an expert cataract surgeon, the procedure usually takes less than 10 minutes from start to finish. Most patients do not realize that hours of testing and planning is necessary to achieve accurate results to minimize dependence on glasses after the surgery is complete. Surface curvature measurements and ultrasonic depth measurements are critical to determining the size and power of intraocular lenses that are chosen to be placed in the eye during cataract surgery.
For the past few years, at Carolinas Centers for Sight, we have utilized the Verion Image Guided System. This is a pre-operative measurement device that captures and utilizes a high resolution reference image of a patient’s eye. This reference image is brought in to the operating room, allowing the surgeon to account for lateral and rotational eye movements during surgery, enabling extreme precision not available before this technology was devised.
Florence Surgery & Laser Center LLC (FSLC) is an AAAHC licensed ASC (Ambulatory Surgery Center) on the same campus as Carolinas Centers for Sight. AAAHC is a national leader in developing standards to advance and promote patient safety, quality care and value for ambulatory health care. At FSLC, patients have the opportunity to have a surgical experience normally only available at the very finest cutting edge academic teaching institutions. The reason for this is the mission of the ophthalmic surgeons to provide the best equipment and resources available to the Pee Dee. Since 2014, FSLC has offered the LenSx Femtosecond Laser for cataract surgery. Benefits of the LenSx laser include advanced technology, more precise bladeless incisions, customized surgery to each patient’s eye, better intraocular lens positioning, less surgical trauma to the eye, less post-operative inflammation, more predictable visual results, and quicker visual rehabilitation.
In 2015, FSLC has added the ORA System with VerifEye+ Technology. This device is the most exciting and newest platform for gaining even more precision to cataract surgery. The ORA system allows the surgeon to obtain real time refractive measurements during surgery and to refine intraocular lens power and lens alignment before finishing surgery. This information is vital for patients who have undergone LASIK surgery when they were younger, and who have subsequently developed cataracts. As a result, there has been a quantum leap in refining outcomes, especially in patients with preoperative astigmatism.
During cataract surgery, the natural lens of the eye is removed because it has become cloudy and is causing patients to have functional vision loss. There are three primary categories of intraocular lens (IOL) implants. There are monofocal IOLs, Toric IOLs and Multifocal IOLs.
A monofocal IOL will provide one focus, usually at distance. Post op vision is normally good at distance with this lens, but glasses are needed for reading and possibly computer.
A Toric IOL is used when a patient has moderate to severe astigmatism (a defect in the eye or in the lens caused by a nonspherical curvature resulting in distortion in the vision). Multifocal IOLs are designed to allow for distance, intermediate, and near vision.
The combination of Verion, LenSx Laser and ORA provides incredible precision with the Toric and Multifocal IOLs never available before. All of this science may seem a bit dry to some of the readers. However, at the risk of being politically incorrect or just plain strange, surgery is fun these days! I have been around many years and have seen technological innovations come and go. We are fortunate to be living in a golden age of medicine and surgery. I am proud and honored to bring the very best medical advances to my adopted home of South Carolina.