This year, Kenmare resident Jim Burud joined the ranks of those seeking to end their reliance on eyeglasses or contacts through LASIK eye surgery.
LASIK was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1999. Since then, about 10 million Americans have had LASIK surgery, with approximately 700,000 such procedures performed each year.
“LASIK is a refractive surgery to improve someone’s prescription either from being nearsighted or farsighted closer to zero, with the goal of being glasses- or contacts- independent,” says Mark Raymond, MD, an ophthalmologist with Trinity Regional Eyecare-Western Dakota in Williston.
Burud, a wildlife officer, had worn glasses since he failed the school nurse’s eye test in the third grade. At 43, he was “legally blind without correction,” that is, without glasses or contact lenses, he says. (He wore the latter 75 percent of the time.)
Because he had astigmatism, Burud wore weighted contact lenses but struggled with dry eye issues that come with age, he says. Plus “working outdoors, you get debris in your eye and it becomes a safety issue.”
Some of Burud’s co-workers had LASIK done with great success and when talking to others about it, he learned recovery was quick and there was not much discomfort.
On January 10, he climbed into the surgical chair, where Darrell Williams, MD, an ophthalmologist with Trinity Health, waited to perform the procedure.
While patients tend to think of LASIK as a laser procedure only, it is in fact a mixture of surgical and laser procedure. “Two lasers are involved,” explains Dr. Raymond. “One cuts the corneal flap, which is then lifted, and the middle layer of the cornea is then lasered to reshape it. The flap is put back and acts as its own bandage on top of that.”
“The amount of each laser pulse is so minute, they are measured in microns, or one-thousandth of a millimeter, or one-millionth of a meter,” Dr. Williams adds.
Vision is usually pretty good the day after the procedure and continues to progress over the next month, Dr. Raymond says.
Dr. Williams, who has been performing LASIK for about 20 years and was one of the first to perform it in the western half of North Dakota, explains that LASIK provides custom, one-of-a-kind treatments for patients.
“Trinity has been phenomenal in providing us with the best equipment,” Dr. Williams says. “We have always had access to cutting-edge technology, which is helpful with my surgery because there is so much you can do with the equipment.”
The offices at Trinity Regional Eyecare-Minot Center has five lasers, two have which are used for LASIK.
“Trinity’s strong suit has been providing the newest and latest technology, which allows us to take care of patients and help them achieve their goal, which is better vision,” he says. “These are youthful, active patients. They need to know they are getting the best technology available.”
As with all surgeries, there are risks such as infection and scarring, and perfect vision is not guaranteed. “Some patients still need glasses for some functions or don’t see as well as they hoped they would,” Dr. Williams says.
Overall patient satisfaction rates are high, though, with national studies showing laser vision satisfaction rates of 95 percent, he adds.
For Burud, the results were almost instantaneous. The day after his surgery, Burud went to renew his driver’s license. After taking the vision test, he is no longer restricted to driving with corrective lenses.
Following his surgery, he says he has seen – literally- “a huge improvement” in his eyesight. “I can see better than I did with contacts or glasses,” he says.
Come see us
LASIK procedures are performed by Darrell Williams, MD, and Mark Raymond, MD, opthalmologists with Trinity Health. Dr. Williams is located at Health Center-Plaza 16, 2815 16th St SW, Minot, and can be reached at 701-852-3937. Dr. Raymond is located at Trinity Regional Eyecare-Western Dakota, 1321 West Dakota Parkway, Williston, and can be reached at 701-572-7641. Check with your insurance company to see if LASIK is covered.