Getting Older, Getting Better: Part I - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

11/08/05

Getting Older, Getting Better: Part I

There's one clear sign that your eyes aren't as young as they used to be, when you can no longer see clearly to read. Then you have to start buying those dime store magnifying glasses.

The condition is called presbyopia, when you can no longer read up close or thread a needle with ease, and it's a real pain in the neck. But a new procedure that can correct your vision is anything but a pain in the eye as we found out from Dr. Elizabeth A. Miller with the Georgia Eye Institute at Memorial Health.

Lynn Turner is proud as she can be of her precious grandbaby, but she is anything but happy with her decreasing ability to focus on items up close.

"When I turned about 42, couldn't read without stretching my arms out to the limit," she told us.

Presbyopia actually begins when we're just children. Our eyes slowly and progressively lose the power to focus up close due to changes inside the eye. "I knew it was coming eventually," Turner said.

At the age of 54, Turner is fighting the symptoms of aging eyes with a procedure called conductive keratoplasty or CK. "It increases the steepness of the cornea and gives people back some of that focusing strength they lose," explained Dr. Miller.

It's a very short procedure, under five minutes, and according to Dr. Miller, it's one of the safest procedures performed on the eye.

"It's done with radio frequency application," she said. "It simply changes the shape to give back some of the power lost, no cutting, no laser no interocular, it's extremely safe."

Dr. Miller uses a topical application to numb the eye, and then while keeping the eye from blinking, she makes a series of pin prick like indentions around the cornea. Dr. Miller says the outcome of CK is extremely predictable, so her challenge is not in the procedure but rather identifying the best patients.

"For the gentleman who enjoys his golf game, distance vision is very important," she said. "He is not a good candidate."

But it is right for Turner, who wants to see the world again through more youthful eyes.

This procedure costs about $1,500 and is not covered by insurance.

Reported by: Jody Chapin, jchapin@wtoc.com

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