Bloomington / Normal, IL

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Unexpected Freedom

  September 02, 2017

By Julie Payne, Eye Surgical Associates

Chris Steffen is experiencing a wonderful new freedom that she did not think was possible. “I first got glasses in the third grade, and, over the years, my prescription just got progressively worse, especially the astigmatism,” Chris explained. For many years, she had inquired about LASIK surgery and had been told repeatedly that her degree of astigmatism and nearsightedness ruled out LASIK as an option. LASIK surgery is a simple outpatient procedure that reshapes the cornea to correct most cases of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism in many combinations.

When her husband, Nate, had LASIK surgery in 2015, she saw his great results and was happy for him but sad for herself. Then in 2017, she ran into Nate’s LASIK coordinator and mentioned how she had wished she could get LASIK but knew she wasn’t a good candidate. The more they talked, the more the LASIK coordinator was convinced that Chris might be a candidate after all. In addition, a good friend of Chris’s, who shares an equally strong eye correction prescription, announced she was getting LASIK. Chris was motivated to get a second opinion.

“We routinely see patients that were told they were not a candidate for LASIK surgery,” Dr. Scott Pinter of Eye Surgical Associates (ESA) stated, “However, the combination of more sophisticated laser equipment and expanded treatment algorithms allow Ophthalmologists to provide LASIK surgery to people who were initially thought to be outside of LASIK parameters.”

Certainly, there are still conditions and circumstances that are relative or absolute contraindicators for LASIK surgery. Any of the following conditions would rule out a person for LASIK surgery:
  • Cataracts
  • Uncontrolled glaucoma
  • Keratoconus or signs of abnormal corneal topography or corneal thinning
  • Pregnant or nursing (patient must be three months post pregnancy/nursing)
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Undergoing chemotherapy
Naturally, some of these conditions can change over time, and LASIK may be an option in the future. Other relative contraindications involve certain medications or illnesses.

“The best thing to do if you are uncertain is to get a LASIK screening,” said Mellissa Wahl, one of three LASIK coordinators at ESA. The screening process is free, simple, and takes about 45 minutes. “We take pictures and measurements of the eyes to look at the surface, shape, and thickness of the cornea. We also check the size of the pupils and visual acuity with and without glasses or contacts,” she explained.

“We have had LASIK patients as young as 18 and as old as 85. Obviously, the sooner a patient has the surgery, the longer they can enjoy their improved vision,” Dr. Pinter said. “Sometimes patients that aren’t good candidates for LASIK can have another laser procedure to correct their vision. The surgery and healing time may take longer, but the end result is as good as LASIK.” he added.

Chris had her screening in February, followed by a more thorough evaluation, and finally LASIK surgery in April. “I wish I had done the screening a lot sooner,” Chris said. “I have gone from severe astigmatism and nearsightedness in both eyes to none in my left eye and a very small amount in my right eye. That is amazing. It's weird, but most days I forget that I used to wear glasses and contacts. Sometimes, when my eyes are dry, I think I should take my contacts out, then I remember I don't wear them any longer,” Chris laughed. “It's been so great to not have to fumble for glasses in the morning, to accidentally use my peroxide solution to rinse my lenses in the AM instead of saline (not recommended!), and to not have to pack all those bottles and glasses just to travel overnight. In one word — freedom!”

Take the LASIK Candidacy Test at If you would like more information about LASIK surgery or to schedule a free LASIK consultation, contact ESA Eye Surgical Associates at 309-662-7700. LASIK Coordinators, Mellissa, Alicia, and Nancy and Ophthalmologists Daniel Brownstone, Catharine Crockett, and Scott Pinter will be happy to assist you. ESA is located at 1505 Eastland Drive Suite 2200 Bloomington. Back to Top

September 02, 2017


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