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Tuesday Night Pig LASIK

On Tuesday I finally completed all of my continuing education (CE) hours required to renew my optometry license. Frequently CE classes mean sitting through a pretty tedious lecture about something that I am pretty familiar with. If I am lucky, I will learn something new. If I am REALLY lucky, I will have some fun, too. Well on Tuesday, I did get lucky. I got to do something that I've never done before and will not forget any time soon - I got to practice LASIK at TLC Laser Eye Center!

For accuracy's sake, a few notes. First, it wasn't on people, but on pigs...and it wasn't even on a live pig, just a pig's eye. Second, I didn't actually do LASIK to correct the refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism) of the pig's eye. What I did learn, was how to use a femtosecond laser, the step used in "bladeless LASIK" procedures.


Pig eye holder and surplus pig eyes.

Here are the steps that typically occur in the LASIK procedure:
  1. During a pre-procedure visit, the doctor and staff determine if the patient is a good candidate for LASIK and precisely the amount and type of treatment needed to correct vision.
  2. The patient arrives on the big day and is put at ease in the pre-procedure room. Their eyelashes and eyelids are cleaned, and numbing and antibiotic eye drops are placed in their eyes.
  3. In the procedure room, patient lays down and relaxes. The surgeon uses a computer to track the eye, ensuring that treatment is delivered as determined beforehand.
  4. A special femtosecond laser is used to create a very thin flap of the outer, central layer of cornea.
  5. The surgeon carefully lifts the flap by hand and pulls it back to reveal the treatment area of the cornea.
  6. Another computer-controlled excimer laser is then used to change the shape of the cornea to eliminate refractive error, providing clear vision for the patient.
  7. The flap is carefully replaced and begins healing without stitches.
  8. Several post-procedure evaluations are performed to ensure that the eyes are healthy and the vision is clear.

Me lifting the flap

Me lifting the flap

Since I co-manage LASIK, I get to do steps #1 and #8 regularly. And I have observed the rest of the steps in person several times, but I have NEVER gotten to do steps 4,5,6,and 7 - not even on pig eye. I still haven't done step 6, but 4, 5, and 7 were pretty cool.  What I can say is this: I've always had tremendous respect for ophthalmologists that perform LASIK surgery. I look under the microscope at patient's eyes and see the results every day. But I have even more respect after lifting the LASIK flap and trying to smooth it back down without damaging it! Let me tell, it is a pretty delicate matter. Knowing that the pig didn't have to worry about the outcome certainly helped.

If you are interested in LASIK, or are wondering if you are a candidate, request an appointment with us or call 813-792-0637.

A huge thanks to TLC Laser Eye Center, Louis Probst, M.D. and Christine Hair, O.D. for arranging this "eye-opening" experience! (I never get tired of eye puns....)

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD

Bright Eyes Family Vision Care

Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

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