When LASIK Wasn’t the Answer, This Young Woman Found Another Solution for Her Poor Vision, Astigmatism and Contact Lens Woes
- Posted on: Jan 28 2019
After years of struggling with severe nearsightedness (myopia), astigmatism and annoying contact lens complications, 20-year-old Brianna A. was fed up. Her every waking moment hinged on whether she could prevent her contacts from drying out, irritating her eyes and obstructing her vision. Now, thanks to the Visian Toric Implantable Collamer Lens® (ICL), Brianna has put those nagging vision problems behind her.
How bad was Brianna’s vision? ‘I couldn’t even leave my room.’
Brianna started wearing glasses in kindergarten and her vision became progressively worse year after year. As she explains, “Ever since I was very little, my prescription has been really strong, and eventually, my glasses started to get super thick. I was also in competitive gymnastics, and my glasses would get in the way, so I’d take them off before a competition. I had to put tape on certain spots on the floor so I would know where I was supposed to be, but I couldn’t see anyone or anything else around me.”
During her junior year in high school, Brianna upgraded from glasses to contact lenses, but as her prescription kept getting worse, her contacts kept getting thicker. The thick lenses were uncomfortable and eye infections became an ongoing issue.
Her poor vision also posed a potential safety issue. “My vision was so bad that without glasses or contacts, I couldn’t even leave my room. It was out of the question,” Brianna says.
Poor vision and dry, blurry contacts made college and work a challenge
Twenty years old and in college, Brianna faced new challenges due to horrible vision and struggles with contacts. She couldn’t make out the writing on the board in large lecture halls, and when her contacts were bothering her – which was most of the time – she couldn’t drive.
“It just affects everything you do because when you take out your contacts, you take out your whole vision. It’s been challenging for sure, even at school. This past semester I took online classes because in-person was just not working out vision wise. And before I went to work, I always had to make sure I soaked my contacts in solution for a good hour or two to make sure they wouldn’t get dry or move around. There were a lot of things that constantly worried me that most people don’t normally think about,” says Brianna.
A need for costly, custom contacts prompted research into eye surgery options
After Brianna learned she would need custom contacts, she started looking for a more permanent solution – one that would drastically reduce her dependence on glasses and contacts. The custom contacts would cost Brianna $300-400 per month, so getting eye surgery started to make more sense financially, plus, not having to hassle with glasses, eye infections and discomfort anymore was also very appealing.
Eventually, Brianna’s search for a surgical solution led her to Dr. Jeffrey Whitman, President and Chief Surgeon of Key-Whitman Eye Center in Dallas – and the Visian Toric ICL.
According to Dr. Whitman, “Patients like Brianna often come in thinking they can get LASIK, but when so much correction is needed, there isn’t nearly enough tissue in the cornea to perform a LASIK procedure. Fortunately, we have an alternative, the ICL, for cases like Brianna, who had 16 diopters of nearsightedness and over 2 diopters of astigmatism, which is a lot of astigmatism. Brianna was an excellent candidate for the ICL because she was between 18-40 years of age and met other criteria for the procedure, including certain anatomical requirements and good eye health.”
While Dr. Whitman has been implanting Visian ICLsfor many years now, the Visian Toric ICL for treatment of myopia and astigmatism just received FDA approval this past fall. Dr. Whitman is extremely excited that the advanced technology has been approved because it essentially combines two surgical procedures into one.
“In the past, we would first implant the ICL, wait for it to heal, and then at a later date, we’d perform a laser treatment to treat the astigmatism. Patients would need more than one treatment to get their vision corrected to where it needed to be. Now, with the Toric ICL, we can treat both issues with one procedure, which is much easier on the patient,” explains Dr. Whitman.
Dr. Whitman is one of the few eye surgeons with ICL expertise
Most people assume that any eye surgeon capable of performing LASIK will also be to perform other eye surgeries, like implanting ICLs. This just isn’t the case. In fact, Dr. Whitman is one of the few eye surgeons in the United States known as an expert in ICL procedures. STAAR Surgical, the manufacturer of the Visian ICL and Toric ICL, even recognized Dr. Whitman with an award for performing more than 500 ICL procedures to date.
According to Dr. Whitman, “Few people have really high prescriptions like Brianna’s, so many surgeons don’t bother to learn how to implant ICLs because they won’t have to perform the procedure very often. It’s also a very technically difficult surgery. At Key-Whitman, we’re committed to being refractive surgery specialists and helping get people out of their glasses as best we can. We want to offer all of the modalities, so we got into ICLs years and years ago and have developed a lot of expertise in the procedure. Key-Whitman is actually one of the few focus centers in North Texas that offers ICLs as an option.”
‘I don’t have to think about my eyes anymore.’
After having the Toric ICL procedure, Brianna can now focus on enjoying life. As she explains, “Before getting ICLs, a lot of my day revolved around my eyes and my contacts. It was very frustrating and would dictate how most of my day would go. Now, I just wake up in the morning and think about what I’m going to do that day. It’s been very liberating!”
Are you tired of hassling with poor vision, astigmatism, contacts or glasses? Call Key-Whitman at (214) 220.3937 and select Option 1 to speak with a patient care representative or set up an appointment online. The Key-Whitman team of refractive surgery experts will determine whether you would be a good candidate for the Toric ICL, LASIK or another vision correction procedure. Key-Whitman is one of the few eye centers to offer the full range of options for improving your vision.
ABOUT DR. WHITMAN
Jeffrey Whitman, M.D., is a nationally renowned eye surgeon, board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. He has been the President and Chief Surgeon of Key-Whitman Eye Centers in Dallas since 1996 and was past President of the Outpatient Ophthalmic Surgery Society, American College of Eye Surgeons and The Dallas Academy of Ophthalmology. Dr. Whitman is a frequent participant in clinical trials and is known as a respected researcher, innovator and leader in refractive cataract surgery, LASIK eye surgery and for his extensive experience implanting high-technology lenses. He is frequently called upon to serve on the boards of local and national medical associations and organizations. Dr. Whitman and his wife reside in Dallas and enjoy fitness, playing tennis, snow skiing and traveling.