One of the most persistent misconceptions about modern LASIK and other advanced corrective eye procedures is that those with high prescriptions, astigmatism, or a reliance on reading glasses are “out of luck."
Thanks to advancements in technology, this isn’t the case, and hasn’t been for years. The real issue? When you have tough vision problems, it’s time to bring in the experts.
With today’s state-of-the-art laser technology and advanced procedures, people who are very nearsighted, have astigmatism, or have found themselves reaching for readers are able to qualify for fast, convenient surgical options that make it unnecessary to wear contacts and glasses – saving them time and money over the course of their lives.
“The ability to improve both distance and near vision is a game changer,” says Dr. Mollie Hiatt, an optometrist with Kugler Vision in West Omaha. “People no longer need to be inconvenienced with fogging glasses or uncomfortable contacts — even many of those who may have been told in the past that they do not qualify for LASIK.”
One advancement that’s gained popularity worldwide is ICL, or Implantable Collamer Lens. It’s similar to a small permanent contact lens that is placed just below the eye’s surface. It refracts the light that enters the eye clearly onto the retina for crisp, clear vision without glasses or contacts.
“It’s maintenance free, and the patient cannot see or feel it — but ICL delivers a tremendous degree of visual clarity,” says Dr. Hiatt.
While the majority of people are eligible for any of these procedures, there is a small percentage (approximately 13%) that do not meet necessary criteria for a variety of reasons.
“There are some conditions that make surgery not possible,” says Lance Kugler, M.D., Omaha native, a pioneer in the field of refractive surgery and founder of Kugler Vision. “A small percentage of people have something that precludes them from having a procedure, whether it’s the unique shape of their eye or scarring from years of wearing contact lenses.”
That’s why it’s important to be evaluated by experts that specialize in the newest refractive vision correction techniques. Dr. Hiatt said most people think of vision correction surgery as just LASIK, but there are actually seven different procedures available today to correct someone’s vision. In Omaha, Kugler Vision is the only practice to specialize in and offer all seven vision correction techniques approved by the FDA.
Some of the biggest advancements in refractive surgery have come from understanding which procedures are best for specific patients, Dr. Kugler adds. By having more options and more technologies, doctors are able to offer a better result to a wider range of people.
“We take our time to get to know each person and come up with an individual plan to meet their vision goals,” Dr. Hiatt says. “Dr. Kugler has invested in the most advanced, proven technology and a very caring staff. We also have multiple treatments that we offer.
“For example, some offices only provide corneal treatments, such as LASIK and PRK — laser eye surgeries that correct refractive vision errors by changing the shape of the cornea. But we provide all available treatments — including the permanent contact lens procedures — and are able to determine which procedure is really the best fit for each individual.”
There has been a significant increase in people having refractive surgery over the past 12 months even during the height of COVID. Kugler Vision reports seeing a nearly unprecedented surge in local demand.
“We’re hearing patients say, ‘I’ve been putting off having the vision I’ve wanted for long enough. I’m tired of feeling dependent on glasses and contacts,’” Dr. Kugler says. “I think people’s priorities have changed. As the world begins to open up more, people are ready to get out there and enjoy themselves. They want to do that more fully without the inconvenience of glasses and contacts.
“A large percentage of the population is starting to realize that vision correction isn’t some expensive luxury,” Kugler says. “It’s actually something that improves quality of life at an investment level that is lower than what they are currently spending on their contact lenses. So people are starting to look at it differently.”