“Studies have shown that near-sighted people have slightly higher IQ’s. No one is really sure why,” said Dr. Cunningham, Director of Optometry at Dell Laser Consultants.
“Well, then I must be a genius because I can’t see more than three inches in front of my face,” I laughed. We’re speaking today about eyes and athletes, two things Dr. Cunningham is passionate about.
“I played football in college and was always interested in how we visually process. I was intrigued by training muscles and wondered if it could be possible to train eye muscles to increase the speed of visual response.” He was able to find a place to work that combined his two interests perfectly; Dell Laser Consultants is known throughout the professional athletic community as the go-to place for LASIK surgery.
“Why?” I asked.
“We have a confidentiality agreement with our pro athletes. It’s funny to think, but players are nervous that having surgery of any kind in pro sports can be seen as a detriment,” so the confidentiality agreement puts them at ease. But that doesn’t stop some pros from singing praises anyway.
“Brendan Hansen, a multiple gold medalist at three Olympics recently had LASIK surgery and without us even asking him he became our biggest spokesperson. He started telling everyone how it changed his life. Brendan could not see his hand five inches in front of his face. He told me that one time his contacts fell out while he was swimming and he had to finish the race just by following the noise.”
“Oh, that must have been nerve wracking!”
“And, of course, contacts are never safe for swimming.”
“Contact lenses provides an environment conducive for infection. Stagnant water in particular (like lakes) can carry Acanthamoeba, which if very difficult to kill. People like wearing their contacts so they can see, but prescription goggles are safer.”
“LASIK is probably the best solution, but what if you have thin corneas? A few years ago I tried to get LASIK done because I’m blind as a bat, but my doctor said my corneas were too thin and I should just wait a few years for the technology to get better.”
“Technology does change every year. One of the biggest fears doctors had was about the corneas being too thin to operate on. There was a huge study completed in Europe with over 100,000 people that showed corneal thickness before surgery had no bearing on the success of vision after surgery. That means LASIK surgery that was denied to thousands of people is now opening up as an option. Dr. Dell is going to educate other doctors on this at national meetings later this year.
“There is hope for me! Yes!” He laughs. “So if someone were to come into your office, what kinds of questions should they ask?”
“LASIK is the most success form of surgery of all types of surgeries, yet people can be understandably fearful. They should take time to ask their doctor, “Am I a candidate for this procedure? Are their any extra precaution or red flags for my individual situation> If something does happen, and the prescription isn’t perfect or an emergency arises, are you available 24/7?”
“You mean, because some doctors don’t work weekends?”
Reputable surgeons always have their patients’ best health and interest at heart and make themselves available at all times to address issues and emergencies. So, selecting a surgeon is important and a Groupon should never be the determining factor for choosing a surgeon.”
“So what happens to the people with bad surgeries?”
“Well, sometimes they come to our office to fix it. Groupons are great for restaurants and day trips but not surgery. You would never bargain shop for a brain surgeon and you shouldn’t for an eye surgeon either. There are no shortcuts for surgeries; you get what you pay for. Ask other doctors who they would go to if they wanted their vision corrected. Ask where they send their family members.”
“Speaking of family members, what do you tell moms getting LASIK with small kids at home?”
“Moms are some of the most grateful patients out there. Mom are the ones getting up in the middle of the night searching for glasses and trying to calm babies. We take extra time talking to moms and dads with small kids at home about after care. They should have childcare arranged for that first day when the procedure is done because all patients receive a mild sedative. Eye protection – clear glasses – are given to wear at home for a few days to prevent little hands from poking them in the eye.”
I could see my son doing that…“I heard that pregnant women shouldn’t have LASIK. Is that true?”
“Pregnant women and women who gave birth six months ago should wait before having surgery. There are circulating hormones that change the cornea thickness during this time which means the wrong vision correction could be done.”
“Speaking of wrong vision corrections, I have a fear of moving during surgery. What would happen if I sneezed during surgery?”
“That’s a really common fear. The lasers are so advanced that needn’t be a worry. LASIK is incredibly safe. No one’s eyes are ever perfectly still so the laser adjusts for this. Each person’s iris is unique, like a fingerprint. The laser takes a fingerprint of the iris and maps the eye, making 50 landmarks of the iris. The surgery takes about 12 seconds per eye. Let’s say something really extreme happens during surgery, like a patient has a heart attack. The laser would stop instantly. Now let’s say the patient is better and decides to come back several weeks later to finish the surgery. The laser will read the iris map and continue the procedure from where it left off.”
“It is. Our lasers can create something akin to high def vision. It can measure imperfections within the eye and corrected them were contacts and glasses cannot. This ability to correct imperfections will increase clarity, making the person have gifted vision like a professional baseball player has naturally.”
“Speaking of baseball, summer is coming. Do you have any tips for good eye health?”
“Wear sunglasses. Always get wrap around glasses to block the side light. Depending up the time of day, if it is mid-morning or late afternoon and you are wearing flat glasses the UV can reflect off the sides and go straight into your eyes. Kids should wear sunglasses too, as sun damage accumulates over a lifetime. Also, make sure to eat foods rich in antioxidants and take Omega-3’s to decrease dry eye.”
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