Help for Those Beyond LASIK's Help

Although LASIK eye surgery gives the gift of restored vision to hundreds of thousands of Americans each year, there are some people who are so nearsighted - near or past being legally blind - that the laser surgery simply can't help them. For those people, implantable contact lenses may be the answer. These lenses are permanently inserted beneath the surface of the eyeball.

"A very small incision is made in the cornea, the clear, domed tissue at the front of the eye," explained eye surgeon Dr. Mark Lobanoff, who practices in Wyoming, Minn. "Through that, we inject the lens, [which is] made out of a new material known as collamer, that is very soft, very flexible and extremely thin. Then my job is to tuck that lens underneath the blue or brown iris so the lens sits behind the iris but in front of the natural lens [of the eye.]"

 The patient is awake throughout the procedure, which takes only about 10 minutes per eye. After just five minutes in the recovery room, patients are usually able to see 20-20 or better. The lens company's literature claims a patient satisfaction rate of 99 percent, and Lobanoff said he believes it. "In our practice so far, all the patients that I have implanted this lens are very, very happy," the surgeon said.

"And so my own personal group of patients have 100 percent acceptance rate and really like it." The procedure costs about $3,000 per eye, as compared with LASIK's $1,600 to $2,300 per eye. Insurance companies generally don%u2019t cover contact lens implantation, just as with LASIK.


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