Sci-Fi watchers have long known the power of lasers.
While laser technology has been around for decades, the real-life medical advancements for lasers are pretty amazing, too.
According to a report released on July 17 by Global Industry Analysts, Inc., medical lasers have been used in ophthalmology, oncology, cosmetic surgery, cardiology, dentistry, gynecology, dermatology, gastroenterology, diagnostics and urology. Smaller incisions, less pain and faster recovery times are the main benefits of using the advancing technology.
The latest advancements in cataract surgery include the use of Alcon LenSx laser technology. Eye Centers of Ohio, Inc. in Jackson Township is the first in Stark County to bring the technology to their patients.
There are three major benefits to using the laser technology recently installed at the Iris surgery center on McKinley Avenue northwest, Dr. Paul W. Turgeon said. The laser is bladeless, it can be highly customized to the patient and it replaces the more challenging steps performed by the surgeon in traditional cataract surgery.
"This is probably the best advancement in 20 years in cataract surgery," Turgeon said. "This is a huge step up. It means that the surgery is done the same way every time with high precision. Our patients have been uniformly pleased with the procedure and their vision afterwards."
Turgeon said that every eye is unique, much like a person's fingerprint. With the laser, he can map each individual's eye. Additionally, the image-guided laser also allows for a higher level of control during the procedure.
"The more challenging aspects of the surgery such as the incisions can be done with greater accuracy, safety and predictability," Turgeon said. "The length and depth of the incisions are better controlled, stigmatisms can be eliminated and the laser softens the lense reducing the amount of swelling and inflammation which speeds recovery."
John Malik, administrator at Eye Centers of Ohio, said the laser technology used in Jackson Township has been in use in Europe since 2003 and started in the U.S. in 2011. He said there are approximately 230 lasers in the U.S with only eight here in Ohio.
"At some point, this will be the standard in cataract surgery," Malik said. "Our patients still have a choice of getting the laser surgery or using the traditional procedure for cataract surgery. The whole procedure takes about 15 to 20 minutes."
The Eye Centers of Ohio serves patients in Canton, Akron, Alliance, Dover, New Philadelphia, Wooster and the Cleveland areas. Turgeon and Dr. Lawrence Karns perform the procedures.
Janet Brunner, a patient of Turgeon's, recently selected to have the laser surgery to remove her cataract. The doctor and his team prepared for her surgery by programming the computer controlling the laser. Details of the patient's eye such as the size, depth and curvature of the cornea and whether the surgeon will be treating for a stigmatism are entered into the computer before the patient is brought into the room.
Page 2 of 2 - Someone from Turgeon's surgical team attached the laser to Brunner's left eye using a patient interface so that the image of the eye can be seen at all times during the surgery. Within a few minutes, the laser portion of the surgery was complete and the patient was moved to a separate room for the completion of the procedure.
"The first part of the surgery is completed by the laser technology," said Robin Spilker, RN, BSN and clinical director at the Iris surgical center. "The patient is moved to a separate room for the second part of the surgery which includes the same procedures used in the traditional surgery."
The goal of cataract surgery is to break the old, cloudy lens into pieces and then remove those pieces from the eye. A replacement lens is then inserted. In traditional cataract surgery, the surgeon would make a tiny incision in the eye and then use an instrument about the size of a pen tip. Advancements in laser technology now allows parts of this procedure to be completed by a bladeless, computer-controlled refractive laser.
"The key benefits of using the Alcon laser are precision, accuracy, predictability and it is a safer procedure," Turgeon said. "The surgeon sets the parameters and customizes the procedure. It's very exciting," Turgeon said.