LASIK is gaining in safety-conscious Sweden

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					Refractive Laser

                                                                    LASIK is gaining in safety-conscious Sweden

                   Bo Andersen

                   Howard Larkin                                    volume countrywide has been steady at            couple of clinics, pricing has been stable and   the integration of phakic IOLs both as an
                   in Stockholm                                     about 6,000 to 7,000 procedures over the         currently runs about 1,200 to 1,500 per          alternative to LASIK and as a supplement for
                                                                    last                                             eye, Dr Andersen says.“Profit potential [at      correcting higher refractive errors. Several
                   NEARLY a decade after LASIK entered
                                                                    several years.                                   this price range] allows for investment in       centres also offer presbyopic lens exchange
                   Sweden, what has been a steady but fairly
                                                                       “The market has had some fluctuations         new techniques and instruments but, to my        with implantation of multifocal lenses, and
                   slow refractive surgery market finally shows
                                                                    over time, but we have not had the kind of       knowledge, does not build fortunes.”             this trend is increasing, Dr Andersen adds.
                   signs of heating up.
                                                                    backlashes experienced in some countries,           So-called “medical tourism”, in which            For the future, Dr Andersen sees
                      “Our figures are up 20 per cent over the
                                                                    such as the UK.”                                 patients travel to lower-cost countries for      refractive surgery becoming increasingly
                   last 12 months,” says Bo Andersen MD,
                                                                       Most clinics now doing LASIK in Sweden        surgery, also has not been a major factor in     integrated with other refractive
                   medical director of Capio-Medocular, whose
                                                                    have been in the market from the start, Dr       Sweden, he adds.The few recent entrants to       technologies, including spectacles and
                   clinics in Uppsala, Stockholm, Gothenburg
                                                                                                                     the Swedish laser vision market mostly have      contact lenses. He envisions patients being
                   and Malmö provide about 10 per cent of
                   LASIK procedures in Sweden.“We are at last       “In recent years we have                         been sponsored by opticians, Dr Andersen
                                                                                                                                                                      given a choice of how to address their
                                                                                                                                                                      refractive error whenever they see an eye
                   experiencing a clearly rising trend.”
                      Dr Andersen believes word-of-mouth is         seen an increase in the                             “What may boost the market from now
                                                                                                                     on is a greater interest and participation in
                                                                                                                                                                      care professional, be it an optician,
                                                                                                                                                                      optometrist or ophthalmologist.
                   driving the gains.“After many years maybe
                   now we have a ‘critical mass’ of happy           number of LASEK                                  LASIK surgery from opticians; this has
                                                                                                                     contributed to a more prosperous refractive
                                                                                                                                                                         “Like all refractive surgeons I am dreaming
                                                                                                                                                                      of the day when we are able to inject a soft,
                   patients who give word to friends and
                   relatives about successful treatments.”          procedures, but my feeling                       business in Norway, their estimated market       accommodating gel into the capsular bag
                                                                                                                     being three times as large per inhabitant        without causing after-cataract, and also have
                      Laser surgery was introduced in Sweden
                   by Prof Björn Tengroth in the early 1990s,       today is that we may once                        as ours.”                                        the possibility to fine-tune refraction for
                                                                                                                        Improvements in technology, particularly      instance by a secondary light treatment. I am
                   and most surgeons transitioned from PRK to
                   LASIK around 1996 and 1997, Dr Andersen
                                                                    again see LASIK gaining in                       more-reliable microkeratomes, are also           not certain we will have come that far in the
                                                                                                                     driving increased interest in LASIK, Dr          next few years. But I am confident we will
                   says. He believes that Sweden’s cautious start
                   laid the groundwork for current success.“In
                                                                    popularity”                                      Andersen says.                                   continue to offer our patients even better
                                                                                                                        “In recent years we have seen an increase     quality refractive procedure outcomes in the
                   the traditional somewhat careful approach
                                                                    Andersen notes.                                  in the number of LASEK procedures, but my        years to come.And if we are to really
                   typical for Volvo-loving, safety-focused
                                                                      “This points to the difficulties in            feeling today is that we may once again see      overcome problems with higher order
                   Swedes we were not amongst the first to
                                                                    establishing new centres, for several reasons.   LASIK gaining in popularity.”                    aberrations we shall have to address this at a
                   make the transition. Hopefully we thereby
                                                                    The market has so far not been                      He is unaware of any Swedish clinic using     level other than the cornea.”
                   avoided some of the pitfalls of the early
                                                                    overwhelmingly ‘hot’, and there is a lack of     femtosecond lasers, but he expects this
                   LASIK era.”
                                                                    keen, skilled and dedicated LASIK surgeons.”     technology will debut soon.
                      While exact procedure volume isn’t
                                                                      With the exception of some discounting a          Perhaps more significant to the growth of
                   tracked, Dr Andersen estimates annual
                                                                    few years ago that led to the bankruptcy of a    the Swedish refractive market, however, is


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