Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Physicians Perform First Known Pediatric Laser Surgery For Farsightedness

LOS ANGELES (March 25, 1999) -- A laser technique approved by the Food and Drug Administration last November for correction of farsightedness in adults has been used for the first time to treat a child, allowing a 12-year-old boy to shed unattractive glasses and enjoy a more active life.

Kenneth Wright, M.D., a Cedars-Sinai Medical Center ophthalmologist specializing in the treatment of pediatric patients, performed the operation on Feb. 11. He was assisted by James Salz, M.D., an ophthalmologist who specializes in laser surgery.

The patient, Kiley Bedwell, has from birth battled an unusual condition in which the vision in one eye is normal but the other is extremely farsighted. Kiley had 20/20 vision in his right eye but he was legally blind in his left. According to Dr. Wright, when one eye is able to focus and the other remains extremely out of focus in childhood, the brain learns to "turn off" the blurred image. Glasses usually provide only minimal help because by the time they are fitted, the brain has been trained to ignore the message from the out-of-focus eye.

Kiley's parents, Marty and Linda Bedwell, first took Kiley to Dr. Wright when they became aware of their son's vision problems when he was 5. For more than six months, he often wore a patch over his "good" eye to force his brain to work with his out-of-focus eye. He also wore glasses to improve the vision in that eye to 20/60.

Those glasses, however, always had one clear lens and one extremely thick one, which not only created an unflattering appearance but also hindered Kiley's depth perception, curtailing his involvement and success in sports and other activities.

"It's very hard to wear glasses with a 6-diopter difference," said Dr. Salz, referring to the disparity between the clear lens and the thick one. "In fact, most adults can't do it. If you put glasses like that on an adult, they'd feel like they were on a boat."

Dr. Salz served as principal investigator at Cedar

Contact: Sandra Van
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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