ROME – Before James Serour went to board-certified ophthalmologist John Costello, Jr., DO, he had trouble even seeing the chart on the wall during eye tests.  “I couldn’t even see the first letter “E” on the chart,” he said.

Serour, 56, wore “coke bottle” glasses in order to see distance before Dr. Costello performed intraocular lens implant surgery on his eyes.  “It’s like night and day,” he said.  “I was so nearsighted that without glasses, everything was a blur. I would wake up at night and I couldn’t even see the clock,” he added.

Dr. Costello is the first ophthalmologist in the Mohawk Valley to offer the collamer intraocular lens implant surgery, an outpatient procedure performed at Rome Memorial Hospital.  Serour was his first patient to receive the implanted lenses.

A pharmacist who resides in Marcy, Serour said that he wore contact lenses for many years and that his eyes would dry out.  “I could never get the sight I wanted with contact lenses,” he said.  “I wanted better sight.”

Serour was surprised at the immediate impact of the surgery.  He said that he was prepped for surgery with anesthetic eye drops and that “surgery was done within a half hour.  I could see the difference right away,” he said.  “It was amazing how there was a difference in my eye sight in such a short time.”

Adults who are not candidates for LASIK surgery now have this surgery as another option to correct severe nearsightedness and rid themselves of dependence on glasses for distance, according to Dr. Costello.

“Through collamer intraocular lens implant surgery, we can dramatically improve the vision in patients with extreme nearsightedness who are not candidates for LASIK surgery,” he explained.  These patients are forced to wear thick glasses or contact lenses and are essentially blind without glasses unless this type of surgery is performed, said Dr. Costello.  These patients are usually not candidates for LASIK because their corneas are too thin to allow for this surgery to take place, he added.

Collamer intraocular lens implant surgery involves inserting a Visian implantable collamer lens – otherwise known as an ICL – through a tiny incision in the cornea. The surgery takes about eight minutes and is performed using only anesthetic eye drops. The patient can see clearly immediately following the surgery.

“This is leading edge technology,” said Dr. Costello.  “It is very similar to cataract surgery and involves implanting an ICL lens behind the pupil but in front of the patient’s natural lens.  It’s almost like inserting a contact lens in your eye that is permanent.  If a patient needs cataract surgery down the road, it is easily removed,” he added.

Twenty-two year old Alex Aboussleman – whose eyesight prior to the ICL surgery was worse than 20/200 in each eye – now has better than 20/20 vision in both eyes.  “I wore thick glasses since kindergarten,” he said.  “The last few years, I wore contact lenses but my eyes would get very dry,” he added.

The New Hartford resident had a strong motivation for wanting to have the surgery done.  “I am trying to get into the border (Mexican) patrol and I was way below their vision requirements,” said the recent SUNY at Potsdam criminal justice graduate.  “I have wanted to be in federal law enforcement since third grade,” he added.