Is LASIK Safe? The Quest for Improved Vision
The deciding factor for many people considering LASIK surgery is safety. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) deemed the surgery safe back in 1998. Since then, more than 20 million people have reported remarkable results after having the procedure. Today an average of 600,000 people have LASIK each year.
Does it work?
Millions of people worldwide found LASIK treatment to be successful. In addition to patient feedback, FDA research studies (PROWL) reveal the following:
- 98 percent satisfaction rate.
- Nearly every procedure achieves at least 20/40 vision; record numbers achieve 20/20 vision.
- Side effects are minimal. Most patients are pleased with recovery time.
- Some patients reported immediate results. Others report improvement 6-8 hours following surgery.
Few patients experience immediate improvement, but say they still need glasses for reading or to see long distances. This is a common problem that everyone deals with at some point in their life and is called presbyopia. In older age patients, this can be corrected with a certain technique called monovision where one eye is treated for far vision and one eye is treated for near vision. Your eye surgeon will talk to you about your unique treatment along with all the risks and benefits of the procedure.
What are the risks?
The risk for complications is exceptionally low. As with all surgeries, there is always a potential risk. Complications are attributed to common side effects which disappear quickly. Possible complications are:
- Risk for eye infections is minimal and easily treated with prescription antibiotic eye drops
- Rarely patients experience worse vision than before surgery. Touch-up surgeries are available in such instances.
What should I expect?
With the help of sophisticated technology, your doctor can define precise irregularities in your eyes, then form a specific plan of action just for you.
During your first visit, your doctor will assess the thickness of your cornea, the size of your pupils, refractive error stability, and tear production to see if you are a candidate for LASIK.
Not everyone is a match for the LASIK procedure. A small percentage, only about 20 percent of people evaluated, are not candidates due to risks related to underlying health issues like diabetes, auto-immune deficiencies, or even damaged corneas. Your surgeon is a highly skilled professional, who will not risk your vision or health. You will have the opportunity to discuss your lifestyle and medical history during your initial evaluation.
Once approved, a pre-operative examination will determine the best treatment plan. Stop wearing contacts for a couple of weeks before your appointment to ensure accurate readings.
The surgery is usually painless and lasts about 15-20 minutes.
Many patients are pleased with the recovery time and the fast results. Ordinarily, there is some discomfort for a few weeks after surgery. You might feel like you have a lash in your eye. Additionally, some patients report dryness and light sensitivity.
- Use protective glasses for the ride home, and asked to wear them while sleeping for a week or so.
- Plan for transportation home. You cannot drive yourself.
- Medication will wear off about 30 minutes after surgery. You may feel some burning or itching.
- Do not rub your eyes. Minimize the risk of displacing the corneal flap.
- Normal tearing will occur for around 12 hours. Your eyes may also look bloodshot.
- You will be given a few different types of eye drops. Use them as directed.
- A follow-up appointment is scheduled 24 hours after surgery
Is LASIK Safe?
“Is LASIK Safe?” The margin of risk, improved quality of life, and self-image all factor in your choice. Before reaching a final decision, be clear on the risks and benefits involved. Schedule an evaluation to ensure you are a candidate, let your surgeon address your concerns, and answer “Is LASIK Safe?”