Medical Director of Yale's New Haven Eye Laser Center Travels to Beijing to Teach Laser Treatment for Myopia

Shachar Tauber, M.D., recently traveled to Beijing, where he was Laser Education Ambassador to China at the Global Chinese Ophthalmology Congress. Tauber is director of Yale School of Medicine’s new Laser Vision Correction Service and medical director of the New Haven Eye Laser Center, which opened in May.

At a special symposium for 150 refractive surgeons, Tauber shared the podium with surgeons from various cities in China as they exchanged technical knowledge and clinical expertise. Tauber’s presentations emphasized the important areas of patient selection criteria and management of post-surgical symptoms.

In Asia, nearly 60 percent of the population has myopia, or nearsightedness (trouble seeing distant objects), Tauber said. Last year, 75,000 laser vision surgeries were performed in China; in the coming 12 months, about 200,000 or more procedures are expected. The Chinese Government Health Service provides care for its 1.05 billion citizens through a national plan that provides free laser vision correction. China has 125 specialized lasers for eye surgery.

“China’s policy of providing the procedure free of charge may seem somewhat remarkable to Westerners, who pay $4,000 to $5,000 for the valuable procedure,” Tauber said. “Based on the monumental number of patients who can experience improved outcomes from well-trained laser surgeons, the Global Chinese Ophthalmology Congress made an important contribution to public health.”

Laser vision correction only recently became available in the New Haven area. In May, Tauber organized the grand opening of the Yale New Haven Eye Laser Center at 60 Temple St., a joint venture between Yale School of Medicine and Yale-New Haven Hospital. Tauber, the center’s medical director, reports a brisk increase in the rate of requests for surgical laser correction of myopia.

A procedure involving only lasers is used to treat mild degrees of distance vision problems, while a procedure that combines the laser with creation of a surgical flap in the cornea is dramatically effective in cases of severe distance vision problems, Tauber said. The surgery is especially popular among people with very active lifestyles, such as pilots, police, firefighters and sports enthusiasts.

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