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Local woman receives ICI Surgery; an eye procedure new to the Roanoke Valley

SALEM, Va. - A local woman is one of the first to receive an innovative eye procedure in the Roanoke Valley.  It gives those suffering from extreme nearsightedness an opportunity to live without contacts or glasses.

For most of Debra Lacey's life, wearing glasses or contact lenses has always been a problem. 

"Just hard to get around if my contacts are getting too dry and it's a hassle trying to deal with the glasses they're always sliding down,"  said Debra Lacey, who has been wearing glasses since she was three years old.

Lacey can't see without her glasses.

"I can't see anything far off.  Everything is just blurry," said Lacey.

Lacey is extremely nearsighted.  It makes it hard for her eyes to focus and see far away.  It has been an inconvenience since she was little, causing her to even put off joining the military.

"You have to have good vision just to get in," said Lacey.

Lacey says she looked into other options like LASIK, but her doctor said it wasn't an option.  However, another procedure called Implantable Contact Lens or ICL Surgery was.   It's where a contact lens is inserted underneath the iris. 

"It's about 13 mm from end to end and we implant it underneath the iris, underneath the colored part of the eye but on top of the natural lens," said Dr. Will Griffeth, an ophthalmologist with Vistar Eye Center.  The goal is to give her excellent distance, and because she still has her natural lenses she'll have perfect near vision as well."

ICL surgery is new to the Roanoke Valley.  Lacey's ophthalmologist, Dr. Will Griffeth of Vistar Eye Center, is one of only two surgeons in the area who performs the procedure.  He says it's another option for people when glasses are just not enough.

"We see people who get decent correction with glasses and contacts lenses but it's a burden, it's a life long burden," said Griffeth.

Now thanks to this procedure it's a burden Lacey will no longer have to bear.

ICL surgery is an outpatient procedure and costs about $5600 for both eyes.

Vistar Eye Center donated their services, and Staar Surgical donated the contact lens for Lacey's surgery.

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