Wang has been designated as a presenter at the event and will offer a seminar on bladeless LASIK. The surgery is already used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism but is now being used to aid patients who have difficulty reading because of sight deficiencies.
Bladeless LASIK can be performed on most people between the ages of 18-65, although Wang said he has performed a successful LASIK surgery on a 92-year-old man.
According to Wang, bladeless LASIK is much more beneficial and safe for the patient, and most doctors use it for themselves, but only 10 percent of doctors use bladeless LASIK on their patients.
“There are two reasons for this,” Wang said. “First, bladeless LASIK is more expensive and some people cannot afford it. But I think that if they cannot afford it now, they should wait until they can, instead of taking a chance on an outdated procedure.”
The second reason, Wang said, is the comfort zone of the surgeon. They were schooled to use the blade and most did not want to take more classes to learn to use the laser.
LASIK surgery is not perfect nor is it without complications. Since the surgery started being used more often, there have been more than 10 million procedures with a complication rate of 1 to 2 percent. LASIK is still a fairly new field, so Wang felt the need for a textbook that doctors can study to learn how to treat these complications when they occur.
“In the LASIK-surgery complication field, irregular astigmatism is the problem most difficult to treat. Yet, it’s the most common cause for post-LASIK, visual-quality problems,” Wang said.
His textbook, Irregular Astigmatism: Diagnosis and Treatment, is the first of its kind and was published in April. Wang has written two other textbooks and also has a biography entitled Dancing with Eyes, though it has not been translated from Chinese to English. The Wang Vision Institute is a world-class laser vision surgery center and has brought patients in from 40 states and over 55 countries. Wang has performed over 25,000 LASIK surgeries — more than 3,000 of those were on fellow doctors. Wang does more than just correct patients’ vision; he even restores sight to the blind by using cutting edge procedures including one he invented called an amniotic contact lens. In October, he performed Middle Tennessee’s first Boston K, which is a new artificial cornea surgery. The cornea is the clear dome-shaped part of the eye which, along with the lens, helps the eye to focus.
In 1972, Randy Mathenia, of Jackson, lost sight in his left eye in an accident. During the 26 years since, he has had many major surgeries including three failed corneal transplants. It was then that his doctor referred Mathenia to Wang in Nashville.
After seeing Wang for the better part of a year, Mathenia was finally given the ability to regain his vision when Wang implanted his eye with the Boston K artificial cornea. The Boston K is about the size of a contact lens and sits in the center of a donor cornea. It is used for patients like Mathenia who have been determined to be terminally blind.
Another patient of Wang’s breakthrough treatments is Kajal, a 5-year-old Indian girl who was blinded when her step-mother threw acid in her face. When Wang heard Kajal’s story, he had her brought to Nashville and began treating her to receive an amniotic contact lens and a femtosecond laser-assisted artificial cornea transplant.
The amniotic contact lens uses a piece of amniotic membrane to help heal scarring. The femtosecond laser is the most advanced laser technology and helps to remove scarred tissue to make way for the artificial cornea.
For the procedures of both Mathenia and Kajal, all expenses, including travel and board, were covered by the Wang Foundation for Sight Restoration. This non-profit charity is run by Wang and helps patients to be able to see again even if they cannot afford it. Wang holds an event, called the “EyeBall,” each year as a funding resource for the organization.
Wang began his life in Communist China with nothing and escaped to America to further his education with only $50 and a Chinese-English dictionary in his pocket. This, he said, gives him the drive to succeed.
“But the drive is not based on material success,” Wang said. “It is the third dimension that is more important than wealth. The drive is to create a magic moment when someone sees again — the essence of human life.
“At the end of the day, that is all that matters.”