Is having YAG laser eye surgery here in Thunder Bay really that important? As Larry Brownlee will tell you, yes it is.
The first time Larry needed laser eye surgery, he had no choice but to make the eight-hour drive to Winnipeg for the procedure – only to find out that he had to reschedule because of a conflict with his medications. It was a lot of travel and time off work, for him and his wife.
“You have to have someone come with you,” Larry said. “Your personal, out-of-pocket expenses are greater than you would have here. Some are covered, but then you have to do the paperwork. It’s just way more convenient to have it here.”
Indeed, some might say it’s a service we deserve to have in Thunder Bay. Today, Larry can get that same procedure without having to travel to Winnipeg at all. That’s a good thing, since his latest procedure required five sessions over five weeks. Without local laser eye surgery, he would have had to travel once per week, driving 5,000 miles in total.
However, the current equipment we have is getting old. It’s been in almost constant use for 13 years to treat thousands of patients with glaucoma and post-cataract surgery. If the unit breaks down before it’s replaced – and eventually it will break down – people will once again be forced to travel out of town.
This summer, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation launched a campaign to raise funds for a new YAG laser. The exciting thing is, we’re not just replacing old equipment, we’re upgrading it. The latest model is actually two lasers in one, both a YAG laser and a newer technology called Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT). For some eye conditions, this procedure causes less pressure build-up in the eye, causes less scarring, tends to be less painful for patients, and has fewer side effects.
The new model is also more portable, features a bigger table so people in wheelchairs can remain in their chair during the procedure, and is more energy efficient.
“People who have never had problems with their eyes might not quite understand what an impact it can have on your life,” Larry said. “But things change as you get older – they can change very rapidly. It’s a great feeling to know that we can have the latest equipment right here, and that we don’t have to travel to get it.”
Your eyesight isn’t just a convenience; it’s an important part of your life. With your help, we’ll have the most cutting-edge laser eye surgery equipment in the world, right here in Thunder Bay. Please make your donation online at www.healthsciencesfoundation.ca or call Deb or Lorna at (807) 345-4673. Thank you!