Lens Implant Offers New Hope

For Mary Jo Richard, certified public accountant and partner at Eide Bailly LLP in Fargo, the decision to undergo vision-correction surgery prompted careful thought. "When it's your eyes, you don't take it lightly," she says. "You make sure you've researched the options and you know what's best for you."

For Mary Jo Richard, certified public accountant and partner at Eide Bailly LLP in Fargo, the decision to undergo vision-correction surgery prompted careful thought. "When it's your eyes, you don't take it lightly," she says. "You make sure you've researched the options and you know what's best for you."

To correct severe nearsightedness (distance vision), Mary Jo for years had successfully worn contact lenses. In her 40s, to address the common age-related need for reading glasses, she even adjusted to monovision, meaning one contact was corrected for distance, the other for close-up. But at age 48, she wanted freedom from contacts.

When LASIK isn't an option…
"So many friends and acquaintances were having LASIK and loving it," says Mary Jo. "I was disappointed to find out I was ineligible because of extreme nearsightedness and thin corneas, but I had renewed hope when Dr. Strinden informed me of the Verisyse lens implant."

Though LASIK (a type of refractive surgery) meets the needs of many, it's not for all, as Dr. Thomas Strinden, board-certified ophthalmologist and managing physician partner of MeritCare Eye Center, explains: "The great majority of patients – about 90 percent – fall within the range of eligibility for refractive surgery, but for the 10 percent who don't, the Verisyse lens is a safe, effective way to meet their needs. Patients have been very happy with the results."

Successfully used in Europe for years, the Verisyse lens was approved for use in the United States in 2004. Dr. Strinden, the area's only eye surgeon with expertise in Verisyse, trained in the procedure in 2003.

"It was unbelievable"
Verisyse lens implantation takes place in the operating room under local anesthesia. In two short outpatient procedures (one for each eye), Dr. Strinden positions the Verisyse lens in front of the natural lens and behind the cornea, then attaches it to the iris. "In a procedure similar to cataract surgery, we're able to change the power of the eye simply by adding a lens," he says.

On April 25, 2006, Mary Jo underwent the Verisyse procedure in one eye, followed by the other eye two weeks later. "There was no discomfort and recovery was very quick," she says. "Each time, I just took one day off from work."

The results were immediate. "I remember looking up at the ceiling in the operating room right after the procedure and I could clearly see indentations in the ceiling tiles. It was unbelievable," she says. "Before, without contacts or glasses, I wouldn't have even been able to see there were ceiling tiles."

Convenience counts
For Mary Jo, whose active life also includes husband, Paul, and three children, the convenience of seeing well without contacts or glasses makes a daily difference. "It's little things like being able to wake up and see the time without bringing the clock next to my face," she says. "It's great, and I'm really pleased I had it done."

The Verisyse procedure, cataract surgery, LASIK and more are now available in one convenient location: MeritCare Eye Center, 1717 University Dr. S., in Fargo. The center brings together a team of board-certified ophthalmologists and optometrists, a LASIK suite, and two operating suites, giving patients the ease and comfort of getting all their specialized eye care in one location. In addition to the Eye Center, MeritCare continues to provide optometry services and an optical shop at MeritCare Southpointe, 2400 32nd Ave. S., in Fargo. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (701) 461-5100.