By Bob Purcell

Laser eye surgery is the biggest breakthrough in ophthalmology in centuries. It is state-of-the-art medicine and it works brilliantly.

In the breadth of a few painless seconds, a subtle change is made to your cornea and a startling change happens in your life. You can see clearly, without glasses, or with much weaker lenses. It’s that simple.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Chaim Goldberg says the best candidate for laser eye surgery is the informed patient. The chairman of Laser Eye Care Clinics has worked with over 100,000 patients, providing caring and insightful ophthalmological treatment for a wide variety of visual disorders.

Reasons for wanting laser surgery vary greatly, but certainly, the best candidates are the best informed ones. For those with an active personal or professional lifestyle, it’s more a question of necessity than a cosmetic choice. Dr. Goldberg’s point of view remains pragmatic: if you desire corrective surgery and you are a suitable candidate, then there is no reason not to proceed.

There is an excellent success rate. Millions have had the procedure. Well over 90% of people with mild to moderate sight defects can now see excellently without glasses or contacts. Even those with very poor vision almost always enjoy a dramatic improvement.

Before any decision can be made, Dr. Goldberg starts with a complete eye examination. Your degree of vision defect must be within the operable range, you must be in good general health and currently free of eye disease. You must also be at least eighteen years of age and your corrective prescription must be stable. As you would expect, the diameter, thickness, curvature and health of your corneas are absolutely essential in determining eligibility. If there is any potential problem, Dr. Goldberg would not perform the procedure. Laser surgery works remarkably well for most people, but it isn’t for everyone.

Dr. Goldberg began his medical career after graduation from the faculty of medicine at the University of Toronto in 1976. He completed his residency in Ophthalmology at the University of British Columbia in 1981 and is currently on active staff at Scarborough’s Centenary Hospital. Additionally, he has been a guest lecturer at the University of Toronto and many public service organizations. Dr. Goldberg has dedicated himself to keeping abreast of the state-of-the-art technologies and newest procedures. He is an active member of numerous professional organizations. “I’d like to walk you through the laser process,” he says. “It’s most important that the patient understands what we do and is completely comfortable with it.”

Laser correction is a relatively simple outpatient procedure. You remain awake and are given eye drops to anaesthetize the eye. Dr. Goldberg will talk to you throughout the procedure, explaining what is being done and what you will experience. The first step is the application of anaesthetic eye drops to ensure that the procedure is pain-free. Then, with the eye secured to prevent blinking, the doctor marks a spot on the epithelium – the very thin layer of protective cells that cover the cornea. He then covers the eye with a chemical solution that loosens the edges of the epithelium. This takes about 30 seconds, then the laser treatment can begin. The patient stares up at a target light while the laser is applied to the cornea for about 30 seconds. In all, the procedure generally takes less than 15 minutes. There is no pain during the procedure.

You will be prescribed eye drops for a short time following laser surgery. Vision may be somewhat blurry, but will constantly improve in the first 4 – 7 days after surgery. After that you’ll recognize the clear improvement in your vision. Almost all patients can return to work within one week, and expect continuous vision improvement over the next three to four weeks. All patients are concerned about problems or complications after eye surgery. After surgery, you may feel eye irritation for the first day or two, but that is all. While the epithelium naturally heals itself quite quickly, a bandage contact lens (clear and disposable) is applied by the doctor after the procedure, which enables the patient to see directly after the surgery (and to reduce postoperative discomfort) and should be worn for up to four days. As with any surgical procedure, there are certain inherent risks. As small as the risks are, infection, corneal distortion or perforation are remote possibilities and must be treated accordingly. Suffice to say, that if additional treatment is needed, you couldn’t find a more experienced, more capable, more caring surgeon than Dr. Goldberg.

LASEK, as opposed to the more commonly known LASIK, is an extraordinary advance in corrective eye surgery. The medical term is Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis and opens up the possibility of improved natural vision to an even wider segment of the population. LASEK was developed for people whose corneas were too thin or too flat for LASIK. LASEK reduces the chance of complications that might occur with the corneal flap created during LASIK. Simply stated, LASEK is the best option for people who cannot have LASIK.

The Metro East Laser Eye Care Clinics consists of a small, tightly knit team dedicated to providing better service. Each and every patient is treated in an exceptionally personal and discreet manner. Privacy and comfort are of the highest priority. Dr. Goldberg’s reputation has been built on it and the clinic succeeds because of it.

Dr. Chaim Goldberg can be reached at Laser Eye Care Clinics, 416-412-4441.