Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International
Dr. Derham's latest mission
This Fall, our new cornea fellow, Elizabeth Derham, M.D., joined a team of volunteer ophthalmologists on a SEE expedition to poverty-stricken Guayaquil, Ecuador. Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International is a nonprofit humanitarian organization that is dedicated to restoring sight to disadvantaged individuals worldwide. One of SEE’s primary missions is to reduce the amount of patients with cataract-induced blindness. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that about half of the world’s blindness is due to cataracts. This means about 20 million patients around the globe have bilateral cataracts. Unfortunately, only about 5% of those patients will undergo cataract surgery each year, which is well below the incidence rate.
Dr. Derham was selected as the first fellow to be a volunteer for SEE International. “I’m very excited to be able to help those in need. Conquering blindness is one of the main reasons I became an ophthalmologist. Being able to use the skills I’ve acquired as an ophthalmologist to help those less fortunate is really something special."
SEE International’s volunteer eye surgeons donate their time and pay for all their own travel expenses. During each clinic (approximately five days long), sight is typically restored for 50 to 200 people. This year, a patient of Dr. Perl donated the airfare for this important mission. In addition, Alcon Pharmaceuticals of Fort Worth, TX donated supplies for the mission. Alcon has been an instrumental partner of SEE for over 30 years.
Giving back is a core belief of Corneal Associates of New Jersey. Throughout his career, Dr. Perl and colleagues have brought their medical skill and expertise to needy persons on local, national, and global scales. Dr. Perl is a member of Angel Flight Southeast (AFSE), a nonprofit organization of over 1,000 pilots who volunteer to use their own aircraft, fuel, and time to transport the sick to medical facilities. AFSE pilots also coordinate with relief agencies to deliver supplies and personnel to areas hit by natural disasters. In 2005, Dr. Perl purchased medical supplies and donated them to Red Cross volunteers in Florida, delivering them himself in his Beech King Air C90 airplane.
Sherry Herman has LASIK at Corneal Associates of
CONGRATUALTIONS Corneal Associates LASIK Patient
Sherry Herman USGA Senior Women's Amateur Championship WINNER!
It's not every day that a golfer can take a five-year hiatus and return to the course in full form, but that's exactly what Sherry Herman did. And after having LASIK at Corneal Associates at New Jersey, she did it with style. Golf has been a part of Sherry's life for many years. She won four New Jersey State Amateur golf titles in the 90's, and then took a break from the game in 1998. "I didn't like playing with glasses. Without glasses, I couldn't read the score card," said Sherry.
Sherry was experiencing hyperopia, an eye condition often called farsightedness. Although her distance vision wasn't great, her ability to read and see up close was even worse. Her near vision was also hindered from a common condition called presbyopia, which effects most adults over the age of 40, and usually results in the need to wear reading glasses or bifocals to see up close. Nine years later, in 2007, her condition worsened. This all changed after a friend recommended she have LASIK performed with Dr. Perl. She did just that.
"Sherry now has better than 20/20 vision for distance as well as up close. Many of our patients are completely unaware of monovision LASIK, which can reduce or eliminate glasses and contacts for distance vision as well as up close,"
Theodore Perl, MD
Sherry traveled an hour and a half for an evaluation with Dr. Perl to see if she was a candidate. Dr. Perl recommended a procedure called monovision LASIK, which allows patients over 40 to see in the distance as well as up close after having the procedure. "It was phenomenal. The same day I had the procedure I went to dinner and I could easily read the menu at the restaurant. Dr. Perl was very professional and reassuring. He actually called later that afternoon after I had the procedure to check on me. I was very pleased."
"Sherry now has better than 20/20 vision for distance as well as up close. Many of our patients are completely unaware of monovision LASIK, which can reduce or eliminate glasses and contacts for distance vision as well as up close," said Dr. Perl. With her newfound vision, Sherry went on to win the prestigious USGA Senior Women's Amateur Championship, one of the world's toughest senior golf tournaments. Corneal Associates asked her, "What's your secret?"
"Well, I have a natural swing, great concentration, and now great vision," said Sherry.
Congratulations on your win and good luck on the next one!
Corneal Associates now offering iFS all-laser LASIK in New Jersey
First And Only iFS® Laser Center in NJ Corneal Associates of New Jersey is bringing the next generation in laser vision correction technology to the area with New Jersey's first and only iFS® Advanced Femtosecond Laser for performing all-laser LASIK vision correction.
Other procedures use a mechanical microkeratome to create a flap of tissue on top of the cornea. The flap is then folded back to allow the VISX S4® laser to reshape the cornea to the desired shape to correct for nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. All-laser LASIK uses a femtosecond laser instead of a microkeratome blade to create the corneal flap. The iFS® is the latest and most advanced generation of femtosecond lasers. Only a few centers throughout the country have this technology and Corneal Associates is happy to be one of the lucky few. The iFS Femtosecond laser has recently been approved by the FDA and is an amazing innovation in laser vision technology. "Corneal Associates has been awaiting the release of iFS®, and finally it's here. Never before in the history of LASIK have we seen this level of safety and precision," says Dr. Theodore Perl.
The iFS's unprecedented speed and precision provide a faster procedure with phenomenal results. Many patients who undergo iFS® LASIK see better than 20/20 after their procedure.
Corneal Associates has always been committed to bringing the safest and most advanced technology to its patients and with the addition of the iFS® laser, we're raising the standards of laser vision correction yet again.
The National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) approved All-Laser LASIK technologies for use on U.S. astronauts. NASA made their decision after reviewing extensive military clinical data. Studies proved that the combination of femtosecond laser for LASIK flap creation and wavefront-guided excimer laser for corneal sculpting provides superior safety and vision.
Dr. Theodore Perl has LASIK laser vision correction!
For a long time I have spoken about all the great things that can come from having LASIK laser vision correction. Throughout the years I've had the pleasure of meeting my patients and them sharing how wonderful LASIK experience has been. Well, now it's my turn share with you how great LASIK can be! Recently, I had the procedure performed and I'm happy to report I'm seeing great. What a world of difference LASIK has done for my life!
Corneal Associates surgeon takes flight to deliver medical supplies
Within 24 hours of receiving a call that medical supplies were desperately needed in the Florida Keys following Hurricane Wilma, on November 11, Fairfield-based corneal surgeon and pilot, Theodore Perl, MD, gathered thousands of dollars worth of donated supplies and delivered them to Red Cross volunteers in Florida in his own Beech King Air C90 airplane.
Dr. Perl is a member of Angel Flight Southeast (AFSE), a nonprofit organization of more than 1,000 volunteer pilots who utilize their own aircraft, fuel and time to transport people in need to medical facilities. AFSE pilots, like Dr. Perl, also fly missions in cooperation with relief agencies to deliver personnel, medical supplies and other cargo to areas stricken by natural disasters. Dr. Perl has been flying for 37 years, has a commercial pilot's license with instrument and multi-engine ratings, and has logged nearly 3,000 hours in the air.
Dr. Perl received his first call from AFSE the evening of November 10.
"Although it didn't receive the publicity that Hurricane Katrina did, Hurricane Wilma wreaked a great deal of havoc on the Keys. I got a call Thursday night from AFSE asking if I had a way to get medical supplies and if I could transport them to Florida.
"I immediately called Alan A. Kass, MD, executive director of the Saint Barnabas Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston where I perform cornea transplant surgeries.
"I told Alan the situation. He went to work right away gathering up boxes of everything from antibiotics and bandages to surgical supplies and personal hygiene kits for the volunteer workers and brought them to my office," Dr. Perl says.
"I also gathered supplies from my own business, Corneal Associates of New Jersey, as well as from my medical supply distributor, Jim Brueckner of Physician Sales and Services," Dr. Perl added. "By noon the next day my plane was full with donated supplies."
"I've been able to help people through my medical practice by performing thousands of LASIK procedures and corneal transplants but always thought that it would be great to use my flying skills to help others as well."
Theodore Perl, MD
Dr. Perl departed from the Essex County Airport in Caldwell Friday afternoon. He touched down in Florida later that day where he was met by Nick Navarra, a veteran Red Cross volunteer from North Canton, Ohio who had recently worked to set up shelters for Hurricane Katrina victims.
"Nick met me at the airport, and we loaded all the supplies in his van," Dr. Perl says. "On the way to distribute them, he took me around to meet some of the people who had been displaced by the hurricane.
"As a surgeon, I see a lot of things that people might consider disturbing but this was absolutely heart-wrenching. It's one thing to see storm devastation on the news but when you see it firsthand and meet the people whose lives have been turned upside down by it, it's overwhelming. Even the emergency rescue people -- the police and fire departments -- had lost everything.
"I'm so glad that I had the resources to make the trip and especially grateful for the cooperation of Dr. Kass, the people at St. Barnabas, Jim Brueckner at Physician Sales and Services, my staff at Corneal Associates, and everyone else who helped make this mission a success," Dr. Perl says. "I just wish I could have done more."
Last year, AFSE coordinated more than 2,500 air missions within its five-state region. AFSE is one of seven freestanding volunteer organizations affiliated with Angel Flight® America. Dealing with this year's hurricanes -- Katrina, Rita and Wilma -- has kept AFSE's volunteer pilots on the go more than ever before. During the first two weeks of October alone, Angel Flight Southeast flew almost 600 hurricane-relief missions.
Dr. Perl, who is widely recognized as one of the area's top corneal and refractive surgeons, says he got the idea to join AFSE because of his experience with a similar organization.
"About 10 years ago I had patients who needed to be transported to Boston so I had worked with an organization called Corporate Angel Network (CAN), which provides air transportation to patients in need, to get them there.
"I've been able to help people through my medical practice by performing thousands of LASIK procedures and corneal transplants but always thought that it would be great to use my flying skills to help others as well. Seeing the services that CAN provided had a huge impact on me. I knew that some day I wanted to be able to use my plane for something other than business or pleasure."
"After Hurricane Katrina struck, I realized that my plane was big enough and easily had the range that would make it useful in the evacuation efforts in Louisiana or at the very least for transporting supplies.
"I made a few calls and soon hooked up with AFSE. I was disappointed that I didn't get a call to help after Hurricane Katrina. But then I got this call to go to Florida. There wasn't a lot of time to pull things together but I had the ability to do it.
"I love flying and the fact is that pilots are always looking for a good excuse to go somewhere. Flying missions for AFSE is way to help others at the same time."
For more information on Angel Flight Southeast, go to www.angelflightse.org.
Duke University collaborates with Dr. Perl on genetic research project
Dr. Perl has been participating in a genetic research project with medical investigators at Duke University Eye Center in North Carolina, on specific types of inherited diseases and conditions of the cornea caused by mutations in the TGFBI (BIGH3) gene. These conditions are a result of defects in this gene, and are known to be responsible for such conditions as granular corneal dystrophy, lattice corneal dystrophy, Avellino corneal dystrophy, Thiel-Benhke dystrophy, and Reis-Bucklers dystrophy.
The molecular genetic research on these diseases has advanced considerably during the past few years, and it is now possible to make a precise diagnosis of each of the disorders caused by specific defects in this gene. This can be done by examining the DNA from a patient's blood long before the individual displays signs and symptoms, and in early cases, a precise diagnosis can be established before the nature of the corneal disease is clinically apparent.
Individuals with the aforementioned corneal dystrophies, as well as other inherited corneal diseases are invited to participate in this research so they may learn more about the advances in knowledge related to their own particular condition. A portion of this research is being supported by the National Eye Institute. For more information, please contact Dr. Perl at Corneal Associates of New Jersey.
Dr. Theodore Perl The eye surgeon other physicians choose
FAIRFIELD, NJ - One of the top eye surgeons in the United States operates in Fairfield, New Jersey. Theodore Perl, MD, the founder and leader of Corneal Associates has been performing advanced operations on the eye for longer and with better results than almost any physician in the country.
Dr. Perl's capabilities have been recognized by many. New Jersey Monthly has put him on their list of the State's top doctors. VISX, the company which makes the excimer laser used for eye surgery, places him in the top five percent of the nation's eye surgeons. But the most telling commendation is the fact that Dr. Perl has built a reputation as "the doctor's eye surgeon."
Dr. Perl's high profile in the medical community is not surprising. Doctors know that corneal transplants are among the most challenging eye operations; and, on average, Dr. Perl performs over 300 of them a year. They are also probably aware that, because he knows the cornea better than most, he has one of the highest personal success rates for LASIK surgery.
The LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) vision correction, which was approved by the FDA last year, is a procedure that is in great demand. 750,000 Americans are expected to have it done this year, and over a million next year.
In the hands of an experienced surgeon, LASIK surgery is quick, relatively simple and nearly pain free. Shallow incisions are made to create a flap in the outer layer of the cornea. Then the cornea is reshaped by vaporizing precise areas with laser pulses. The cornea can be made into a better lens to correct farsightedness, nearsightedness and even astigmatisms.
A LASIK patient of Dr. Perl's, Karen Gorzynski, the choir director at Somerville High School, reports that while Perl had told her several times that he couldn't promise 20/20 vision, he managed to deliver it. This was an amazing overnight change for someone whose vision had been 20/2000. "It's huge," she says, "that a person's life can be changed this way. He performed a miracle for me."
Because there is so much demand for LASIK surgery, Dr. Perl devotes some of his time to training other doctors. In addition to the other surgeons at Corneal Associates, there are Perl-trained practitioners throughout New Jersey.
As busy as Dr. Perl is, he still finds time for two passions other than surgery. The first is his family. The second is flying. While piloting a plane is a challenge that takes intense concentration and steady hands. It is a breeze when compared to eye surgery.
New Jersey's everyday miracles in eye care!
Certain eye diseases, which up until recently were considered incurable, are being successfully treated almost every day at leading eye care centers in New Jersey. There are two driving factors behind this change. First, the technology in vision correction has made spectacular gains in the last few years. Secondly, a few dedicated and sub-specialized surgeons have incorporated this new technology into their surgical techniques in ways that enable dramatic visual rehabilitation.
Theodore Perl, MD, has performed over 5,000 corneal transplant operations in the last 20 years. Additionally, Dr. Perl has trained many ophthalmologists in the advances in corneal and refractive surgery. He teaches one of the few one-year corneal training programs in the country.
"I am much more comfortable now. I was never completely comfortable with contacts. My eyes are no longer fatigued at the end of the day."
In addition to vast experience and sub-specialization, Dr. Perl has demonstrated an exceptional skill in allaying patients' fears, while still giving them realistic expectations of both the procedure and the outcome. Not only are Dr. Perl's over 10,000 surgical patients pleased to recommend him, he was also chosen by NJ Monthly Magazine as one of the "Top Docs" in the state.
One strong endorsement came from Mr. Bill Meyer of Westfield, New Jersey. Bill is a professional pilot who flies corporate jets for a living. He frequently flies overseas, and recently returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia with a viral infection that caused scar tissue in one of his corneas. The scar tissue caused blurred vision, interfering with his ability to fly safely. The only solution was a cornea transplant.
Bill did not relish the idea of surgery, but he knew he had to have a transplant to continue flying. "You don't see a lot of one-eyed pilots," he now jokes. After significant research, and recommendations from most of the major medical centers, Dr. Perl's name kept coming up. "That's all I needed to hear and I decided to put my eyesight in Dr. Perl's hands."
According to Mr. Meyer, the surgical procedure was painless and Dr. Perl set realistic expectations. "He told me exactly what to expect." Dr. Perl is also an instrument rated commercial pilot who flies his plane to professional meetings and seminars. "I am sure many of the same skills that are required to be a meticulous and safe pilot are also found in the best surgeons. Once Dr. Perl removed the final sutures, I recovered 20/20 vision and I'm back flying jets for a living. I am grateful to the doctor for restoring my eyesight."
Another recommendation comes from Irene Edelstein, of North Caldwell, who is a clinical instructor at a hospital school of nursing. Dr. Perl performed LASIK surgery on Irene. While self-described as a knowledgeable patient, Irene was, nonetheless, amazed at the speed and comfort of the operation. "It took less than ten minutes for both eyes," she said, "There was no pain or even discomfort whatsoever."
Ms. Edelstein, a registered nurse, also did careful research before choosing Dr. Perl for her surgery. She called upon her contacts within the medical community, checked with the state board of medical examiners, and spoke with fellow nurses who have worked directly with Dr. Perl. Her research found an impeccable reputation with an impressive success rate.
Irene no longer needs to wear glasses to see distances. That was just fine with Ms. Edelstein. "I am much more comfortable now. I was never completely comfortable with contacts. My eyes are no longer fatigued at the end of the day. That's a good feeling."