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Q: I was just going to go shopping for a new pair of glasses, but then I heard that laser surgery can correct hyperopia (farsightedness). The surgery for farsightedness was just approved by the FDA last November, right? What do I need to know when choosing a surgeon?

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A: First of all, the ophthalmologist should have substantial experience in laser treatment for myopia (nearsightedness), which the FDA okayed in 1995 -- and by substantial I mean that he or she should have performed at least several hundred of those procedures. Don't comparison-shop on price -- maintaining the VISX laser system (the only one FDA-approved for farsightedness procedures) is costly, and if a doctor is charging, say, $900 per eye, you probably should be wary; $2,500 per eye is more like it.

Finally, you want the new lasik (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) procedure rather than the original PRK (photo-refractive keratectomy). Although PRK was used in all the FDA studies for both myopia and hyperopia, it can be painful, it takes up to five days to heal, and corrected sight tends to continually regress in its aftermath. With lasik, the surgery is performed through a flap cut in the front of the cornea that normally heals by the next morning with little discomfort, and restored sight usually stabilizes in about one month. VISX, Inc., provides a list of all ophthalmologists certified in lasik surgery at www.visx.com.

The following ophthalmologists are at the vanguard of surgeons using the lasik procedure:

  • Dr. Barrie Soloway, Vista Alliance Eye Care Associates (160 E. 56th St.; 888-NY-LASIK): $5,500 covers both eyes, all preop consultations, and one year follow-up.
  • Dr. Joseph Dello Russo, The New Jersey Eye Center (21 W. Main St., Bergenfield, N.J.; 800-35-NJ-EYE): $4,600 for both eyes, all preop, and two years re-treatment.
  • Dr. Mark Speaker, The Laser Center (115 E. 57th St.; 832-2020): $5,500 for both eyes, preop, and two years follow-up.
  • Dr. David Gorman, Center for Eye Care and Surgery (911 Park Ave.; 517-4500): $2,000 per eye, including preop and six months follow-up.


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