Everything you Wanted to Know about Eye Jewelry but were Afraid to Ask
About Dr. Chynn and Park Avenue SafeSight™:
Congratulations on coming to Park Avenue SafeSight™. We are known around the world as pioneers of the safer alternative to LASIK, called LASEK, which Dr. Chynn helped invent when he was at Harvard, and has continuously refined for 15 years, into a unique, safe, painless, 1-minute procedure called SafeSight™.
Dr. Chynn is recognized throughout the US as the #1 LASEK surgeon in the country. Although he had LASIK himself in 1999 (he was the 1st eye MD in the New York Tri-State area to get LASIK himself, for high myopia and high astigmatism), he switched from LASIK (after performing 5,000 LASIKs) to LASEK in 2003, because he was somewhat dissatisfied with the night glare and dry eyes that he and his patients had afterwards.
Dr. Chynn graduated from Dartmouth College, received his MD from Columbia, his ophthalmology residency from Harvard, his optional Fellowship in Cornea and Refractive Surgery from Emory, then got his MBA from NYU—getting accepted to MENSA to boot! He’s lectured in dozens of countries around the world.
Park Avenue SafeSight™ is thus known throughout the world as the #1 LASEK center in the US. We have patients flying in from all over the US—and around the globe—because they were denied LASIK (because they thin corneas, irregular astigmatism, early keratoconus, high prescriptions). 90% of the time, we can safely treat them with our unique non-cutting, non-invasive procedure—and make them 20/20 afterwards (or better)!
Other Unique Procedures Offered at Park Avenue SafeSight™:
In 2009, Dr. Chynn became one of the 1st eye surgeons in NYC to perform a “corneal tattoo.” This patient was a high-end limo driver (one of his clients was Mr. Ralph Lauren), and was blinded by having a bottle shatter in one of his eyes decades ago. That eye was blind, but also severely scarred, with the cornea (the front clear part of your eye) opaque. The patient was double-parked outside our office, and was amazed to see Dr. Chynn performing LASEK in a glass OR (we can do that because we are non-invasive, so don’t have to worry about any LASIK complications). He walked in, and said, “Can you do something about this eye—it looks like a ‘cue ball’ and my clients get nervous when they see me in my rear view mirror, even though I have a perfect driving record for the last decade, and DMV only requires you to see well with both eyes open.”
Dr. Chynn explained that he couldn’t make the eye see, but he could make it look better. The patient explained he had already tried cosmetic contact lenses and a “sclera shell” but those didn’t work, because the contact lenses kept moving around and didn’t fit well in his scarred eye, and the shell was painful. Dr. Chynn then explained that he was one of the few eye surgeons in the country experienced in corneal tattoo, having learned how to do this under the world-famous corneal surgeon Doyle Stulting, MD, PhD while at Emory.
Dr. Chynn performed his corneal tattoo, using a high-end machine in conjunction with a famous tattoo artist. They centrifuged the pigment to save only the finest particles reduced the oscillation amplitude so as not to perforate the cornea, as well as the frequency from 100 Hz to 10 Hz, for exquisite control. They also custom mixed the pigment to exactly match the color of his other eye. The entire procedure took only 30 minutes.
One week later, the patient returned, looking great, with his two eyes looking the same to a casual observer (say, from 2 feet away or more). The patient said the SafeSight™ Tattoo changed his life, and we asked how:
“Well, my customers are more comfortable, which is the main reason I did this. But it’s what my daughter said that nearly made me cry. She said, ‘Daddy, I didn’t want to tell you this, because I knew it would make you sad, but some of my friends wouldn’t come over to play, because they were scared of you. So now, I don’t have to worry about that—and won’t have to into fights sometimes if they say something mean about you.’”
So you can see that “purely cosmetic” procedures, if well-done, are never really “purely cosmetic.” They often have important psychological benefits, which you cannot even predict, until you the procedure is performed.
What is SafeSight™ Jewelry made out of?
Platinum, because it is more inert even than gold, because we don’t want even a 1% chance that the body will react against it (even earrings with gold posts cause an allergic reaction in 1% of women). This contributes to the cost, because platinum is even more expensive than gold. The implant is less than 1mm thick, and curved, to match your eye (so you don’t feel it). We order the implants from Holland, where eye jewelry was invented. Hundreds of patients in Europe have had this procedure, with 0 significant complications.
Is SafeSight™ Jewelry safe?
The chance of visual loss from this procedure is 0. There is absolutely no risk of going blind, or any visual loss. Like any cosmetic procedure, there is a low risk of local infection at the wound site, as well as local bleeding and scarring. To prevent infection, we give antibiotic eye drops for a few days; once the incision is healed, the risk of infection drops to 0. Usually there is some bleeding at the site, but this always resolves on its own in a few days, so surgeons don’t consider minor local bleeding as a true complication. The biggest risk is scarring, but we prevent this with steroid drops for 2 weeks afterwards. The incision is so small it heals on its own in a few days (like if you got a paper cut on your eye), and no suture is even necessary.
Is there any pain during or after SafeSight™ Jewelry?
The procedure only takes a few minutes, and is performed in our glass OR. We give you Valium to relieve any anxiety, and anesthetic eye drops so you don’t feel anything at all. Afterwards, you take Tylenol for a few days, when your eyes may feel scratchy, but not painful. Lucy (our first patient) went to work 2 days later!
Will I feel SafeSight™ Jewelry when I blink?
No, the implant is very thin and curved to match the curve of your eye, with smooth edges. It is also inserted under the conjunctiva, or clear layer of skin that covers your entire eye, including the sclera (the white part of your eye). So after a few days, once you heal, it’s impossible for you to feel the implant when you blink!
Is there a chance the implant will move afterwards?
The risk of implant “migration” which is the medical term for this is about 1%. Dr. Chynn takes care to insert the implant not only underneath the conjunctiva, but also under about 10 microns (0.01 mm) of Tenon’s sheath, which is another layer of tissue between the sclera and conjunctiva. This nearly-microscopic amount of tissue helps “hold the implant in place” and prevents migration. If there is any migration, it will only be outside of the eye, so only affect cosmesis (like if the implant rotates so the heart rotates upside-down, for example). There is 0 chance that it migrates into the eye or affects vision, because the edges are not sharp, so cannot penetrate the tough sclera. During the first week, don’t rub that eye to prevent causing migration!
Can SafeSight Jewelry™ be removed if necessary?
Yes! The explantation process is even easier, and takes about 5 minutes, instead of 15 minutes for implantation. Dr. Chynn just makes a tiny incision in the conjunctiva, and removes the implant with forceps. If you get bored with your implant, it can be removed at no cost within 1 year (after 1 year, the cost is $300).
Can I have my SafeSight™ Jewelry “swapped out” if I wish?
Yes! You can switch from a star for Christmas, for example, to a heart for Valentine’s Day. This is also totally safe, painless, and quick (about 10 minutes). The cost to switch to a new platinum implant is $1000.
What is the cost of a primary implant? What would I get for that?
The cost for SafeSight™ Jewelry is $3,000. This includes your preoperative testing, slit lamp exam, vision check, and intra-ocular pressure check (IOP), and dilated fundus exam, to ensure that eye is 100% normal. It includes the cost of your anesthesia, including Nitrous Oxide (NO2, or “laughing gas”) in the OR if you’re nervous (we are the only laser center in the NY Tri-State Region to offer NO2 for our nervous patients. All post-op. exams are included (typically 1-day, 1-week, and 1-month postop.), plus a DVD of your procedure direct from the surgical microscope (just like we give our LASEK patients, who often post on YouTube)! A free explantation within 1 year is included (after 1 year the cost is $300), and “swap outs” are $1000.
Why are you the only center/surgeon in the US performing eye jewelry?
The procedure has been performed once before, by a surgeon in LA, for some Hollywood celebrity (of course), who wishes to remain anonymous. Dr. Chynn regularly attends and is invited to lecture at ESCRS, which is the premier society of eye surgeons specializing in the cornea and refractive surgery in Europe. So this is how Dr. Chynn got exposed to this procedure. Park Avenue SafeSight™ is one of the most innovative centers in the country, with multiple surgeons from around the world visiting and studying under Dr. Chynn at all times, who perform research, publish in prominent journals, and present their findings at conferences around the world. Innovation and advancing the field of eye surgery is in our DNA—it’s what we do, and what we are known for around the US and abroad!
Do you think it’s ethical to perform a purely cosmetic procedure, with no functional benefit?
If eye jewelry carried any risk of visual loss, we would not perform it. It would not be worth it for us to do a procedure that had only a cosmetic upside, and a bad functional downside. However, to say that “purely cosmetic” procedures are in some way unethical is ridiculous. Breast implants are usually performed for purely cosmetic reasons, and tens of millions of American women have chosen to get breast implants—even though there are much more significant and serious potential complications, up to and including death. The important thing to do is make sure the patient has a truly “informed consent”—meaning a full discussion with their surgeon of the risks and alternatives, as well as a thorough written consent that is clearly explained and signed. Our patients are all adults, and are fully capable of evaluating their own risk/benefit profile. That said, if there was any risk of visual loss from SafeSight jewelry, we wouldn’t perform it—even if the patient asked.
Put this in the context of laser vision correction. Isn’t that a cosmetic procedure, too, with high risks?
It’s totally incorrect that laser vision correction is “high risk.” There are nearly 1 million laser vision correction procedures performed every year in the US. LASIK is the safest elective surgical procedure in the world—safer than even an elective appendectomy, or tonsillectomy (which a small number of patients die from every year worldwide). It is a total falsehood that LASIK is an “unsafe” procedure.
Part of this incorrect perception is caused by people like one former FDA official who was involved in LASIK’s FDA approval after exhaustive studies lasting many years on hundreds of patients (Dr. Chynn was a Principal Investigator for an FDA study of a solid-state refractive laser), and now wants to revise history and say that LASIK is somehow unsafe (perhaps because he no longer works for FDA and needs something to do).
There are websites devoted to “LASIK complications” but many of these complications are not really what surgeons (or most reasonable people) would consider true complications, like: over- or under-corrections (because you can fix that), the need for a second procedure (the possibility of an enhancement is always discussed), the need for reading or night driving glasses after (LASIK will decrease your dependence on glasses and contacts, it does not always eliminate that need in 100% of situations), dry eyes (which Dr. Chynn has himself, takes tears for occasionally, and is preferable to inserting contacts every day), etc.
Then there are people like one reporter for the New York Times, or some guests on the Dr. Oz show, who report disabling night glare or halos. Most of these people can have their symptoms significantly improved, or even eliminated, by performing LASEK over the prior LASIK flap. Of course, this is technically challenging. Special medications need to be given to prevent scarring (e.g., mitomycin C), and only certain surgeons are comfortable with this advanced technique. The good news is that the evaluation for this is totally risk-free.
Dr. Chynn wrote an article a few years ago that was published in one of the top refractive journals in the world about how to use the PreVue lens system to evaluate patients, and show them how they would see afterwards. We put the patient in our $75,000 WaveScan machine, which maps out all imperfections in their visual pathway—in this case, their distortions after LASIK. This “fingerprint” of their eye is then transferred by flash drive to our VISX S4 IR excimer laser. Then, instead of lasering the patient’s eye (as would normally be done), we laser a special plastic disc (the PreVue lens). Then they just hold the PreVue lens up to their eye, look through it under the condition that bothers them most (like in a car at night looking at a street sign—but parked on the shoulder with the emergency lights flashing, not while driving!), and they will see exactly how much the LASEK enhancement would reduce their bothersome symptoms.
Most of the LASIK patients we do a PreVue trial like this say it gets rid of the majority of their symptoms (> 50%), so we proceed with the LASEK enhancement—and vastly improve their lives! Often, their symptoms are reduced more in life than they were on PreVue (because of the small optical zone of the PreVue disc).
Dr. Chynn is so confident with his PreVue lens technique (because he has performed more LASEK surgeries than any doctor in the northeastern US), that he would be willing to perform not only the trial but the enhancement surgery itself for free on either the NY Times reporter or any of the patients who were on that (negatively biased) Dr. Oz episode—just to help make clear to the general public what most top refractive surgeons already know: that LASEK can both prevent and fix most of the visual complications from LASIK!
What are some other innovative procedures you have planned for the future?
Dr. Chynn wants to be the first surgeon in the world to perform LASEK on a near-sighted dog, and fix his vision! He always trains his dogs to be pet-therapy dogs, so they can visit sick patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities to cheer them up! As part of various pet therapy programs, Dr. Chynn has become well-known to other dog owners, who often come to him to examine their dog’s eye problems (because regular vets aren’t comfortable treating eyes, and vet eye doctors charge $500 a visit).
Dr. Chynn can test dogs’ prescription objectively (dog’s can’t say they like #2 better!), and has found that, contrary to what many vets are taught, dogs do have refractive errors. This is because most dogs in the US are now pets, rather than working dogs, who would not be bred if they didn’t see perfectly.
While it would be unsafe to perform LASIK in a dog (because he might squeeze when the flap is cut, or rub his eye afterwards and dislodge the flap, or get hit in the eye with a ball later and have the flap torn off), all of these risks are eliminated with our non-cutting SafeSight™ procedure (which is why it’s safer for people too)!
Do you have some other cool procedures planned for humans?
Dr. Chynn had LASIK himself, and now needs an enhancement after nearly 15 years of good vision. The older technique of enhancing LASIK is to lift up the flap, laser, and put the flap back down. Unfortunately, this causes epithelial ingrowth in over 1% of cases, and corneal ectasia requiring a corneal transplant in 0.01% of cases. Dr. Chynn pioneered the newer, safer technique of performing LASEK over the prior LASIK, using MMC, which reduces those risks to zero (he also published an editorial on this in a leading refractive journal).
These days, most top surgeons who are subspecialty trained in refractive surgery (i.e., they completed a Refractive Fellowship) are starting to transition to LASEK over LASIK for some, most, or (like Dr. Chynn) all enhancements. However, most general ophthalmologists are either unfamiliar or uncomfortable with this technique (e.g., if they don’t normally use MMC).
Dr. Chynn plans on being the 1st eye surgeon in the world to perform his own laser vision correction procedure. This would be impossible and unsafe with any of the other older techniques: RK, AK, PRK, LASIK, or even LASEK. However, Dr. Chynn will perform the most advanced technique now available in the world on himself: epi-LASEK. Epi-LASEK is so safe, that Dr. Chynn will be able to perform his own surgery—thus helping publicize the increased safety profile of Advanced Surface Ablations (LASEK and epi-LASEK) to the world, so patients know that there exists a safer alternative to LASIK—both for primary procedures and enhancements!
Do you think that performing SafeSight™ Jewelry or LASEK on a dog will really benefit anyone?
Currently, gold weights are inserted into people’s eyelids when they have exposure from lid retraction, to help the lids close, and prevent “exposure keratopathy” (corneal ulcers and even blindness caused by drying out). The problem is that sometimes, even gold is not heavy enough to help sufficiently with lid closure, and it is rarely antigenic (causes an immune response, localized reaction, or rejection). Platinum has the advantage over gold of being denser (so an equal size implant would be heavier than a gold weight, or you it would weigh the same as a gold weight but be smaller, which might help with insertion and/or cosmesis). In addition, platinum may be less antigenic in the eye than gold, but this hasn’t been well studied. Therefore, greater use of platinum SafeSight Jewelry may help advance the treatment of exposure keratopathy, which is important!
In terms of other benefits, it’s wrong to only consider benefits to humans, when we have used animals for years by performing research on them to prove safety and efficacy of cosmetics, drugs, and surgical techniques—without giving them access to any of the benefits in medicine realized by animal research. Dr. Chynn’s father was a prominent neuro-radiologist in New York City, and decades ago performed research while at Cornell/New York Hospital on dogs, which led eventually to the Chynn myelography needle, which was used to perform neuro-imaging studies more safely and painlessly than other available techniques (before the widespread adoption of CT and the advent of MRI). Unfortunately, some dogs needed to be sacrificed to complete this important work, so that human lives could later be saved. But we should recognize this sacrifice.
Dr. Chynn is a dog lover, and has had a dog for much of his adult life. His dog Hershey, a Welsh corgi, was “almost famous” as a neighborhood dog, and his current dog, Rhett, a borzoi, has been in photoshoots for Women’s Health, Valentino dresses, and a music video for a Lady Gaga imitator. So he is totally committed to allowing animals—particularly dogs—to benefit from recent advantages in ophthalmology.
So if you know someone who thinks his or her dog may be nearsighted (like the dog sees well close-up, but not far away, and isn’t old with a cataract), have them contact us, and we will evaluate the dog for free, test it objectively, prove a functional benefit to eliminating that refractive error, partner with a vet to provide anesthesia (sedation)—and then perform LASEK on that dog to make its vision (and life) better!