Eye Specialists of Delaware started doing more advanced Lasik eye surgeries Nov. 13.

Amanda Facciolo was wearing glasses when she walked into the surgery room at Eye Specialists of Delaware in Dover. When she walked out 10 minutes later, she could see without glasses or contacts for the first time in her life.

“The freedom of not having to wear glasses is a phenomenal feeling,” she said.

Eye Specialists of Delaware introduced new Lasik technology Nov. 13. In a procedure that used to take minutes, it corrects patients’ vision in seconds. Laser technology that improves vision without glasses or contacts isn’t something new, but Dr. David Creech said their two new lasers offer a quicker and more accurate surgery.

“This is the best and safest technology out there,” Creech said.

Their practice is the first in Delaware to offer this new laser vision correction treatment, called Contoura Vision. Beyond improving patients’ eyeglass prescriptions, the surgery can also increase the quality of their vision by correcting minor imperfections in the cornea, Creech said.

More than 90% of eyes treated with this new surgery and technology, achieved 20/20 vision or better, according to a study group of 249 eyes. More than half in that study had better than normal vision (20/16 or higher) after the surgery.

The surgery is especially popular among police officers and members of the military because they don’t have to worry about wearing glasses, Lasik surgical coordinator Rhonda Ellis said.

Since getting the surgery, Facciolo said she has enjoyed little things like going to the gym without worrying about her glasses falling off. “It’s definitely been one of the best experiences for myself,” she said. She recommended the procedure to her friend Brooke Jerman who had it done Dec. 10.

How it works

Before the surgery, the doctor will use images of the patient’s cornea, taken by the Vario Cornea topographer, to develop a personalized treatment plan.

The cornea’s imperfections appear in the images like mountains and valleys on a topographical map, said Carrie Cowper, a specialist from Alcon, the company that manufactures the lasers.

When the patient enters the procedure room, they lie on a surgical table and are given numbing eye drops and Valium.

The doctor will come in, give the patient more numbing drops and direct them to the first of two lasers. The first is called a femtosecond laser, and it creates a flap in the cornea.

The patient will look into the center of what looks like a ring of lights, Creech said. Then, a suction device goes on the eye, and the doctor presses a pedal, which cuts the flap. This usually takes up to 10 seconds

Previous procedures required a blade to make the flap. This only uses lasers.

All the while, the patient is lying down and will feel no pain, Ellis said. “They may feel a little pressure during the surgery, but that’s it,” she said.

The new laser makes this process easier, too, Creech said.

“The flaps are much cleaner and smoother than the last, older machine,” he said.

The doctor does this to both eyes, then the patient is directed to the second laser, which is called the excimer laser. This laser opens the flap and corrects the eye’s vision, which can take between 10 and 15 seconds, Creech said.

The whole process takes less than 10 minutes.

Patients’ eyes may feel a little scratchy afterward and some have said they feel like they are looking under water because of the eye drops, Ellis said.

She encourages patients to keep their eyes closed in the car home and take a nap if they can because closing their eyes will help them heal.

“The eyelids are like the natural Band-Aid for the body,” she said.

The patient is given a list of post-op instructions with a few rules, such as no swimming for two weeks, no eye makeup for two weeks and do not rub, touch or push on eyes. The next day patients are back to normal and can even drive themselves in for their follow-up appointment

While Eye Specialists of Delaware said they cannot guarantee any surgical outcomes, Ellis said the goal is improved vision, or “20/happy.”

How to pay

The cost for Lasik eye surgery starts at $4,500, said Sharon Fields, Eye Specialists of Delaware director of operations.

While these surgeries are not covered by insurance companies because they’re considered cosmetic, some offer a 15% discount, Ellis said.

Eye Specialists of Delaware’s promotion this month offers patients $500 off their surgery if they schedule before the end of the year.

Next steps

Anyone interested in the surgery can set up a free consultation, which includes a full dilated eye exam and determines whether you are a good candidate.

Contoura Vision surgery is mostly for people ages 19 to 45 or someone who has had the same eyeglass prescription for at least the last three years.

The surgery is not recommended for people with keloid formation, meaning they scar easily, diabetes or glaucoma. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should wait to do the surgery because their cornea changes with their hormones, Ellis said.

Anyone with questions can contact Rhonda Ellis at 302-678-2210.