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Seeing is Believing

Dr. Joel Hunter exclusively provides 3D LASIK, a procedure that includes the most state-of-the-art pre-operative analysis available anywhere.

By Shawn Romano

At Hunter Vision in North Maitland, Dr. Joel Hunter exclusively provides 3D LASIK, a procedure that includes the most state-of-the-art pre-operative analysis available anywhere. His mission is to offer the very latest technology and give each patient the care and attention they need.

The Hunter Vision Difference

Hunter Vision is unlike any other LASIK practice in Florida. First of all, it is the only 3D LASIK provider in all of Florida. Secondly, it has Dr. Joel D. Hunter and his brother Josh Hunter at the helm. As Dr. Hunter puts it, “When Josh and I decided to go into business together it was like Superman telling you he was going to help you move.” Josh is Hunter Vision’s CEO, but he’s also the marketing expert and all-around team leader.

Likewise, Josh calls his brother a “breath of new life for modern medicine” because of the care and skill he brings to his patients. “At Hunter Vision you are not another number. Joel will sit with you one-on-one to explain everything,” Josh says. In fact, Dr. Hunter happily gives his patients his personal cell number after their procedures, in case they have any questions or concerns.

Dr. Hunter’s training with Dr. Dan Durrie, a pioneer in modern refractive surgery, also sets his practice apart. Naturally, every ophthalmic surgery clinic has to choose between off ering truly exceptional technology or the bare minimum to give most people good vision. For his patients’ sake, Dr. Hunter chose the former. He believes your vision is worthy of the most advanced 3-dimensional medical devices available today. From the initial testing and diagnosis of your eyes, to the lasers used to correct your sight, everything at Hunter Vision is world class.

Local Roots, Top Training

Dr. Hunter knew that he wanted to continue the family tradition of serving the community in Central Florida with a tireless work ethic. The road to open a world class refractive surgery center in his hometown was long, but it is clear now that each step was worth it. He attended Taylor University in Indiana and graduated with honors in two and a half years. He graduated from the University of South Florida College of Medicine. He received the highest grade possible in every didactic course in medical school. Upon his graduation, he was given the award for Academic Excellence.

After a year internship in general medicine at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, Va., Dr. Hunter entered a three-year ophthalmology residency at the University of South Florida. While there, he performed more cataract surgeries than any resident in the history of the program before him. After residency, Dr. Hunter continued to hone his skills for another year through a distinguished fellowship at Durrie Vision focused entirely on refractive surgery.

Dr. Dan Durrie has been personally involved in the development of almost every new technology since the beginning of modern refractive surgery in 1988. Durrie Vision chooses one doctor each year for an intensive one-on-one fellowship, which is widely considered to be the best in the world. After a two-day interview process, Dr. Durrie discontinued all further interviews with other applicants and gave Dr. Hunter the position. While at this one-year fellowship in Kansas City, Kan., Dr. Hunter was immersed in and trained on the most advanced equipment, by the leader in the field of refractive surgery.

Ask Dr. Hunter

Q. What is 3D LASIK?

A. The best way to begin the description of 3D LASIK is to explain the pre-operative process. Your single, all-inclusive pre-op exam begins when a Hunter Vision technician captures high-definition photographs of the front surface of your eye, the lens inside your eye, your retina and optic nerve. An OCT (ocular coherence tomography) device is then used to acquire a 3D picture of your retina’s macula, which is the center of your fine detail vision. Then, a Scheimpflug camera gives an objective densitometry reading of the lens inside your eye, and a Pentacam takes two seconds to measure 25,000 data points across the front and back surface of the cornea.

This gives a 3D view of the entire eye that very clearly shows what refractive procedure would fit your particular eye structure. This analysis allows a view of the subtle nuances of each eye that make it unique. This 3D analysis offers a more indepth analysis so that I can more precisely diagnose your vision correction options.

The 3D LASIK experience continues with the laser vision correction itself. Instead of a blade, a femtosecond laser creates a layer of micro-bubbles just a tenth of a millimeter down in the cornea and separates its natural layers. This is a shallower depth and is more precise than a traditional LASIK flap. Next, an excimer laser is used to reshape the cornea in a way that corrects your vision. The laser we use for this is called the Wavelight Allegretto and it is the fastest excimer laser available in the United States. More importantly, it treats the cornea in a way that respects and maintains its 3-dimensional curvature, in a way that prior generations of laser did not.

Q. Do I have to wait until I’m 50 to get LASIK? I’ve heard I’ll need reading glasses by then so I might as well wait, right?

A. Wrong. With this technology, vision can be corrected at any age from 18 to 88. Of course, the people who benefit the most are those who do it sooner rather than later, because it allows that many more days without glasses or contacts. It is true that as the eye ages, particularly during a person’s 40s, there is a stiffening of the natural lens inside the eye that causes a loss of near vision. However, with the advent of blended vision, I am able to treat the eyes in a way that will allow for reading and distance vision both without glasses. Part of what the pre-operative 3D Hunter Vision Analysis allows me to do is evaluate the best treatment for each candidate in order for them to be glasses free at all distances.

Q. Is 3D LASIK safe? Is it long-lasting or do I have to keep going back?

A. Yes, LASIK is safe. The FDA has approved LASIK as a safe and effective procedure. Yes, it is long-lasting. The changes made to the cornea with the laser are permanent. Although the lens inside the eye (which is different from the cornea treated with laser) will get stiffer over time (in the 5th decade of life) and cause a loss of near vision, I treat near vision loss, called presbyopia, proactively in patients that have these changes. If someone gets LASIK when they are younger, this treatment to give them back their near vision is still possible when they lose it.

Q. I’m not able to wear contacts and I’m sick of my glasses, is 3D LASIK a good choice for me?

A. Those who are not candidates for contact lenses or can’t tolerate contact lenses may be good candidates for LASIK. I, myself, could not tolerate contacts. I had dry eyes and would actually force myself to try to yawn to make my eyes water so I could relieve the dryness. Also, one of the great myths is that if you have astigmatism you can’t have LASIK. That is simply not true. You need to have an assessment by an eye care professional you trust, but many people who thought they could never get rid of their glasses or contacts are able to with LASIK.

Q. Would you have LASIK surgery?

A. I did have LASIK surgery in 2003. I would do it all over again in a second. I performed 3D LASIK on both my brothers and my mother and father. We all have 20/15 vision, or better. Josh, always the over-achiever, is 20/10 (twice as good as 20/20) plus he can read two letters on the 20/8 line! 3D LASIK is extremely accurate and safe. I think it’s something you have to believe in strongly if you are going to perform it on your own mother. I whole-heartedly think 3D LASIK is a great choice for better vision without contacts or glasses.

Q. What should a patient look for in a LASIK provider?

A. Ask what type of equipment they are using and then research it yourself to see if they are using the latest technology. Dig a little. Also, you may want to look at patient comments on doctor feedback sites to hear what others are saying about the doctor you are considering.

Q. Why is it so important to you to give back to the community?

A. We give back to the community not just to get our charity hours in, but because it is a key component of our business. It’s just carrying on our family tradition. We really believe Jesus was who He said He was and we live our lives according to that. We decided that 10 percent is the typical number to give, but thought 50 percent more should be our standard. So 15 cents of every dollar we make goes back to the community. Currently that is in the form of donations to Northland and Summit church to help support community programs and mission trips. We are always open to new ideas for ways to benefit others.

This article first appeared in Central Florida Lifestyles magazine.

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