Doctors seeing more LASIK patients during pandemic

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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Doctors say mask-wearing and more screen time during the pandemic have put a greater strain on eyes in the past year. That has led to more people looking for an alternative to their glasses or contacts.

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

Dr. Kirsten Wagner has been doing LASIK procedures for years and in January began doing so at Sansum Clinic’s Elings Eye Center in Santa Barbara after receiving the proper equipment. She says her LASIK patients during this recent stretch mostly share a similar story, about 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 one of Wagner’s LASIK patients and an ophthalmic assistant at the clinic.

“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.”

You can watch the full story tonight on NewsChannel 3.

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Luke Everdeen

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