ANGELA COOPER: Changes on the horizon

Last week I had my continuing education meeting. As an Oklahoma optometrist we must have 18 hours of continuing education to renew our license. I thought I would share some of the things I learned last weekend.It seems like the medical field is always changing, and this is a good thing. New and better drugs are being approved and new surgery options are becoming available.There are new topical antibiotics to help treat eye infections, and there is a new steroid eye drop that is stronger and lasts longer. There also are new options in eye surgery. If you are planning on having LASIK, doctors can now use a laser to make the flap as opposed to using a mechanical blade, this allows for more precise cutting. If you need cataract surgery there are new options for replacement lens implants. Currently you can have a multifocal lens replace your natural lens. These lenses help you see clearly in the distance and to some extent you can see clearly while reading. There are several more lenses being developed to make the multifocal concept better. One of these lenses uses a laser to fine tune the lens, so if you would prefer better near vision the laser would be used to change the lens shape. If you suffer from keratoconus, a corneal transplant used to be the only option for you. Now a patient can have Intacts implanted into the cornea to help you see better. Doctors are also experimenting with a process called cornea cross-linking, where they laser the cornea to strengthen the corneal fiber, and keep it from changing. The most exciting surgery option in my opinion was the AcuFocus Kamra. Everyday I have a patient tell me his/her arms are not long enough to see clearly up close. Once you hit 40, you will start having problems focusing on near objects. The AcuFocus Kamra is placed inside your non-dominant eye to help you see near objects. It acts similar to a pinhole using depth of focus. This is not FDA approved in the United States yet, but ophthalmologists in Canada are performing the surgery. At my class one of the speakers was an ophthalmologist, practicing LASIK and he also had the AcuFocus inserted into his eye, and was very pleased with the results. This implant can be removed if needed and it can be used in conjunction with LASIK and cataract surgery.There also are changes in store with your insurance. With the new insurance exchanges more people will have vision insurance coverage. However, a lot of these addition vision plans do not cover everything on glasses or contact lenses. Make sure when you purchase additional insurance to make sure it is giving you good coverage.Angela Cooper is an optometrist at Poteau Eye Care. She can be reached by phone at (918) 647-2153 or e-mail at, or visit her website at