Life in focus: LASIK now available at Sanford Health

'We prefer to build a relationship with our patients before surgery'

Sanford Health opthalmology

Unclear vision can make life a challenge — glasses getting bent, contacts being lost or torn, having to feel around blindly when first waking up. If you are at the point of finally deciding enough is enough, you now do not have to leave the Sanford Health team to get LASIK vision corrective surgery.

Andrew Ollerton, M.D., a laser eye surgeon at Sanford Health, reshapes patients’ eyes through LASIK. With the procedure, he can correct common vision errors that cause blurry vision, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

How the eye sees clearly

In order to get a clear visual image, light coming into the eye has to be focused at a specific place in the back of the eye. The main source of this focusing power is the part of the eye called the cornea.

The cornea is that clear window on the front of the eye where a contact lens is placed. When light first hits the cornea, it is bent until it meets at a desired location at the back of the eye to produce good vision. Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism result in that light being focused at the wrong spot in the back of the eye.

Glasses or contact lenses work to correct the bend of light and get it focused at the right place. However, LASIK is reshaping the cornea itself so patients do not need to rely on external hardware to see with clarity.

“LASIK is a laser procedure that changes the shape of the cornea. Using advanced laser technology to sculpt the cornea allows a patient to have clear vision without the help of glasses or contacts,” Dr. Ollerton said.

What this means for patients

Patients who previously had to feel around blindly for glasses or a contact case immediately when waking up no longer have to. Patients can live everyday life without worrying about seeing clearly. Activities like camping or working out no longer require trekking along glasses or contacts, a case and extra pair of contacts. Patients also avoid the risk of contact-related eye infections.

“A huge benefit of coming to Sanford Health is that you get a team approach to care,” Dr. Ollerton said. “We get to know patients before the decision is ever made to have surgery. We know their medical and ocular background, and we take time to learn their vision goals. This helps us tailor treatment for each patient, since vision correction surgery is not one size fits all.”

Patients also have vision surgery information available in the Sanford Health electronic medical record. So anytime the patient comes to Sanford Health, that information is available for the health care provider.

“In many instances, a refractive surgery patient may only meet the LASIK surgeon on the day of surgery. Then never see the surgeon again. We prefer to build a relationship with our patients before surgery and follow them closely after to ensure the results,” Dr. Ollerton said.

What to expect from start to finish

Patients interested in LASIK meet with Dr. Ollerton for a couple-hour appointment. During the visit, patients complete a thorough eye exam, review of medical and ocular history, discussion of LASIK surgery goals and a variety of measurements. This appointment rules out reasons that would prevent the patient from safely having laser vision correction.

Once the surgery is scheduled, the patient completes LASIK at the Sanford USD Medical Center. The laser works quickly, with the entire laser treatment typically lasting under 30 seconds for both eyes. The eye is numbed with topical drops before surgery so there is no pain from the laser. Patients usually feel some pressure during the first few seconds of the laser treatment, but relaxing medication is used to help patients through this portion. Plus, Sanford Health’s team of nurses, front desk staff and more are there to support the patient before, during and after the procedure.

How the recovery process works

Recovery is very quick. Patients usually go back to work within a day or two. Vision improvements are typically seen within days, and vision can continue to improve over time while the eye recovers.

The goal of LASIK is to make a patient’s vision as good as possible. To ensure this, Dr. Ollerton follows up with a patient a day, a week and a month after the procedure. At each appointment, he checks vision to determine how well the patient is seeing, if glasses are needed or if the patient requires an additional enhancement laser session.

“I am very excited to offer LASIK. The difference this surgery can have on a person’s life is very gratifying to see,” Dr. Ollerton said.

Call (605) 328-9200 to learn more about LASIK at Sanford Health.

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Posted In Eye Care, Faces of Sanford Health

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