Cataracts are one of those inevitable things in life. If you live long enough, you're bound to have a cloudy lens that needs to be removed from your eye. Our health focus report--an improvement in cataract surgery is now available in KOTA territory.
On March 31, the Black Hills Regional Eye Institute in Rapid City introduced to KOTA Territory, the first major improvement to cataract surgery in 20 years. Dr. Steve Khachikian mans the new several hundred thousand dollar machine.
Using lasers in lasik refractive surgery is nothing new, but adapting lasers to this new type of eye surgery is. Dr. Khachikian explains, "Now a laser can make each incision to a specific size and depth. There's an increased level of precision and perfection we haven't been able to achieve in this surgery before."
On a big screen overhead you can see the two quick incisions. The patient is awake and talking during the procedure. Dr Khachikian says, "It's very new and it's only going to get better. We're offering it here first (at the Black Hills Regional Eye Institute) and we're excited to do that."
Now the patient is rolled into the operating room to have the lens removed. In a tag- team approach on this first surgery, Dr. Terry Spencer now operates the ultra sound to vacuum out the cloudy lens. That lens is sucked out and you watch as it becomes crystal clear, bright red, and a sharp circle.
The new acrylic lens is now inserted. In this case, the patient has an astigmatism, the front of her eye is shaped more like the side of a football than a basketball, so a toric shaped lens is used to correct the astigmatism from inside the eye.
Dr. Terry Spencer explains the benefits. "It's more precise. It allows us to use less energy, so the eye heals faster. The astigmatism control is much more accurate so patients are much more likely not to need glasses afterward."
After less than twenty minutes, it's all over. Dr. Spencer asks the patient how she's feeling? "Any pain? No."
Even with glasses, Rita Dean from Casper, the first patient to undergo the laser cataract surgery at the Eye Institute, could not pass the vision part of her drivers' test. Now, just a half hour after the procedure, Dean says, "I can tell something happened to my eye, but no discomfort. In fact with glasses on, I can't see; it's blurry, but with glasses off, I can see."
And would she recommend the procedure that costs $1200 in extra out-of-pocket expense not covered by insurance? Dean says, "Definitely. It's worth every penny. It's unbelievable to be able to see." Rita returns in 2 weeks for the laser cataract surgery on her right eye. So far, she is very pleased with the results.