Laser Eye Centre may catch bowlers’ eye

If you’re going to turn a blind eye to the National Champ of Champs starting this month, then it may be time to visit Laser Eye Centre. Literally.

Laser Eye Centre has come on board as the major sponsor of the National Champ of Champ Tournament Series starting this month in Dunedin on 19-21 July with the Singles, and continuing in Dunedin the following weekend 26-28 July with the Pairs. The series then moves to Auckland (2-4 August) with the Triples as well as the Fours on the following weekend (9-11 August). And finishes with the Mixed Pairs in Hastings on the weekend of 16-18 August.

Many in the bowls community may be wondering why a sponsor like the Laser Eye Centre is becoming involved with bowls.

Particularly when they might believe that laser eye surgery is only for younger people … or only for people who are short-sighted, not long-sighted. Or perhaps they’re under the impression that laser eye surgery won’t fix their astigmatism. Or the cataracts they’re developing with old age, may mean they end up using glasses forever.

Those perceptions are all urban myth.

These days, laser eye surgery is suitable for people of all ages … both young and old … and who are either short-sighted or long-sighted (and VERY short-sighted and long-sighted). The surgery can also correct pretty much any type of astigmatism … and if you have been told you are developing cataracts, there is a solution too.

In fact, the 15,000 Kiwis who have been through surgery at a Laser Eye Centre, are probably more likely to tell you that you should’ve gone to a Laser Eye Centre, rather than the other lot!

“The reason for that is simple,” says Director of the Laser Eye Centre, Oliver Svadlenak. “We are in the business of providing our patients with CLEAR sight … no matter their age or their type of optical affliction. Sure, there are some extreme afflictions we can’t fix. We generally won’t perform surgery on kids, or on young adults because their eyes are still developing.”

“But for the majority of patients who present, our treatments result in superbly clear vision … something they may have thought was impossible.  And that’s done by simply adjusting the curvature of the front of their eye (the cornea) - or replacing the lens altogether.”

That sounds wonderful. But for many, the idea of a laser zapping their eyeball to achieve this can be pretty daunting. And even a showstopper.

“The surgery is effectively painless,” insists Oliver, “I’m talking NO pain … whatsoever.  We anaesthetise the eye, so that you aren’t panicked by what’s going on right in front of your face. And the basic procedure itself may only take mere seconds.”

Some patients may still not be convinced … imagining that the laser might stray to places where it shouldn’t …like James Bond in the ‘Goldfinger’ movie.

“It’s safe and precise” says Oliver reassuringly. “We use what’s called an Eye Tracker which is placed over the eye, and perfectly aligns the eye with the laser. If your eye moves at all .. even a tiny bit .. the laser automatically pauses and picks up once realigned where it left.”

So confident is Oliver that the surgery will work, that the Laser Eye Centre offers a 5-year guarantee … the only one of its kind in New Zealand.

‘Patients are investing a lot of money getting the surgery,” says Oliver. “So they deserve to have the reassurance that their clear-sightedness won’t be here one day and gone the next.”

“Having said that, the cost is not as much as you might imagine … it does of course depend on what type of surgery is required .. whether its corneal reshaping or lens replacement. But when you take into account the number of spectacles you might need to buy over a period of time, the surgery looks pretty good.”

“It’s a no-brainer for many .. they don’t want to carry reading glasses … they don’t want to struggle with graduated lenses or bi-focals or even contact lenses. They don’t want to have to put up with glasses getting smudged or fogging up.”

“And they want to be free to change their fashion sunglasses without a prescription, or not to have to worry about their glasses while they’re swimming at the beach. They just don’t want to put up with the nuisance that glasses can be.”

“And they don’t need to. No one needs to.”

With clinics in Hamilton and Tauranga, as well as assessment centres in Pukekohe and New Plymouth, the Laser Eye Centre is very accessible to a large populace in New Zealand. Accommodation is also provided for out of town travellers for their surgery.

Laser Eye Centre offers free suitability assessments to bowlers who book an appointment either through the website or by calling the toll free number 0800 733 2020. There is also a special discount for surgery to bowlers who quote their BOWLSHUB registration number.

“The most frequent comment I get,” says Oliver, “is that our patients can’t believe how clearly they can see now (after the surgery). And often I hear that they wish they had done it sooner!”

“It is life-changing … and I’d go so far as to say, it may even improve your bowls!”

Perhaps that might even be a challenge to Oliver Svadlenak himself to get out on the green!

“I’m from Austria,” laughs Oliver. “They don’t play much bowls there, but who knows? I came out here with my wife 11 years ago, and I’ve stayed ever since. I love the Kiwi lifestyle.”

“I love my job and am very passionate about my patient’s eyes.”

“And I’m a 4th generation Optometrist. All I can say is that my Optometrist great-grandfather would’ve loved to have had laser technology back in the day!”