Doctors seeing more LASIK patients during pandemic

Doctors seeing more LASIK patients during pandemic


SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The pandemic has given new meaning to the phrase “2020 vision.”

Doctors say more screen time during the past year has put a greater strain on eyes, while many have complained about mask-wearing’s propensity to fog up glasses and to dry out contact wearers’ eyes more quickly.

Those factors have led more people to look for an alternative to glasses and contacts.

The American Refractive Surgery Council reports a 16.3 percent jump in LASIK eye procedures nationwide during the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.

Dr. Kirsten Wagner has been doing LASIK procedures for years. In January, she began doing LASIK at Sansum Clinic’s Laser Eye Care Center at Elings Eye Center in Santa Barbara after receiving the proper equipment.

She says her LASIK patients since January share a similar story, with many considering the procedure previously before the pandemic pushed them to go through with it.

“Not only did mask-wearing kind of change our daily routines, but now we’re on the screen a lot more,” she said. “And you’re working from home or just using Zoom… needing our eyes more and really feeling that eye strain or fatigue, it really affects people.”

Amie Cisneros is an ophthalmic assistant at the clinic and one of Wagner’s LASIK patients.

“As soon as COVID came and the masks, the glasses fogging up and everything was just super uncomfortable,” she said. “I resorted to just wearing my contacts the majority of the time, but then that kind of started to dry out my eyes and I would get tired and I wouldn’t want to wear my contacts.”

Cisneros had high praise for the procedure, which she said was relatively quick and easy.

“I think it’s one of the greatest decisions I’ve made in a really long time,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about glasses or contacts for who knows how long.”

Dr. Wagner says LASIK is different now than it was in previous years. The Elings Eye Center boasts new technology that does not use any blades, only lasers. LASIK now also uses a custom procedure for each patient’s specific prescription. Those changes, Dr. Wagner explains, mean a safer procedure with more reliable results and a faster healing time for patients.

“The risk of [seeing] glare and halos [post-surgery] is less than two percent because of that custom treatment that we’re doing,” she said.

Dr. Wagner says LASIK still requires extended preparation and a full eye exam to ensure a patient is a good candidate for the procedure, but that the procedure itself is complete within about 15 minutes.

In an earlier statement, Dr. Wagner reported that “ninety-five percent of people who undergo this laser-assisted surgery say they are greatly satisfied with the results.”

To learn more about Sansum Clinic and the Elings Eye Center, you can click here.


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