April 1, 1996
Media Contact: Marc Kusintz
Phone: (410) 955-8665

As you may already know, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the VISX excimer laser for the correction of mild to moderate nearsightedness in patients 18 years of age and older.

Investigators at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute were among the researchers who demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of this laser technology, called photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). PRK can be offered as an alternative to a procedure called radial keratotomy, in which the surgeon makes four to 12 cuts in the cornea with a special scalpel.

Hopkins was the only medical center in the Baltimore area conducting clinical studies with the VISX, and has more than six years of experience with it, according to Walter J. Stark, M.D., professor of ophthalmology and director of the cornea service. Stark led the Hopkins team, which included Terrence O'Brien, M.D., and Dimitri Azar, M.D., assistant professors of ophthalmology, in demonstrating that the laser can safely remove a layer of cells as thin as a human hair from the cornea.

The outpatient procedure takes less than 15 minutes, during which the laser is fired for only about 60 seconds.

Members of the media who wish to interview Wilmer physicians involved with the VISX, or to observe a procedure should call me at (410) 955-8665.

Wilmer is offering seminars for those wishing to learn the benefits and potential risks of PRK with the VISX laser from 7 to 8 p.m. on April 16, 30 and May 9 at Hopkins' Green Spring Station location in Lutherville, Md. To register for a free seminar, call (410) 614-2020.

-- JHMI --
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