Episode #: 77
Show: National 5
Airdates: May-Nov (see Programming Schedule for specific airtimes)

LASIK - Will it make contacts and eyeglasses obsolete?

How safe is it really?

How Lasik Vision has become the fastest-growing laser vision correction company in this exploding industry...
Broadcast Excerpts

Well folks this segment's going to be a real eye opener. Literally. Presently 50% of the North America population or about 160 million people suffer from some form of vision disorder that requires correction. Including myself. These disorders range from near sightedness to far sightedness or astigmatism. 

Approximately 52 million of these people are in an age bracket for which laser vision correction is an appropriate alternative to glasses and contact lenses. Since 1995, the North American laser eye correction industry has grown at an annual rate of more than 100%. Of these people, approximately 80% wear prescription eyeglasses and approximately 20% wear contact lenses. Over 400,000 procedures were performed in North America alone in 1998 while an estimated 900,000 were performed in 1999.

With these astounding statistics we decided to investigate this industry and get our facts from the inside. So, we went to one of the fastest growing laser vision correction companies in North America, Lasik Vision. Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, the company has performed over 80,000 procedures. It currently has fifteen centers in Canada and six in the United States. 

Another 10 centers are currently under development in the US and are scheduled to be opened within the year 2000. With such an aggressive and rapid expansion strategy, Lasik Vision says it will see the total number of clinics double in the United States within the year 2000. They believe there is an excellent business opportunity to establish profitable, competitively priced high volume laser eye centers in major locations within the United States. 

The biggest question on the minds of most patientĂs before going in for procedures like this is "Does it hurt?" Well the doctors here say that the procedure itself is painless. Undergoing LASIK surgery, they say you may experience a sensation of pressure when the flap is created and some discomfort or irritation for up to 24 hours after surgery. But that's it.

In the LASIK procedure, before using the laser, surgeons gain access to the bed of the cornea by creating a hair-thin corneal flap in the eye's outer membrane. A delicate, finely tuned automated instrument called a microkeratome makes this flap with exacting precision in a matter of seconds. After lasering the cornea, using the most advanced technology in the world, the flap is replaced and the membrane heals naturally.

The actual surgery takes only minutes, but the amount of time the laser is active on the eye is only seconds. Preparation for surgery is done in the clinic on the day of the treatment and takes approximately 1 hour prior to surgery time. LASIK recovery time usually consists of a few days. Although they say you will see well enough to function the next day, the discomfort disappears within 12 to 24 hours.

And the majority of individuals who wear corrective lenses-either glasses or contacts-can now enjoy a new found freedom with laser vision correction. 

Lasik Vision says they market their laser refractive services directly to the consumer rather than using the industry's traditional co-management referral system. The company says it offers consumers the most affordable price within the industry. And the consumer response to Lasik Vision's pricing strategy seems to have been overwhelmingly favorable. 

Upon completion of the six new centers in the US, Lasix Vision will have a total of 31 centers operating across North America. 26,673 paid laser procedures were performed by the company by the end of the 1st quarter, this year. Now this represents a 424% increase from the same period last year, I guess as you can see for yourself, this company is seeing a much clearer future than most.



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