LASIK surgery was approved by FDA in the late 90s. Since then millions of people are now enjoying freedom from glasses and contacts. Yet many patients still have concerns about the procedure – how it works, its safety and more. With the help of LASIK surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Robin, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 concerns about LASIK surgery. Our goal is to help rid you of any anxiety associated with LASIK surgery as you research whether or not the procedure is right for you.
Concern #1. I need to put off having LASIK until it’s been perfected.
Since LASIK was first introduced in 1999, an estimated 16 million people in the U.S. and 25 million people worldwide have undergone the procedure with excellent results. It is a remarkably successful, FDA-approved procedure that is the gold standard for patients who want to permanently correct their vision and reduce or even eliminate their need for glasses and contacts. In fact, LASIK is approved by the U.S. Military for servicemen and women, and by NASA for astronauts. Did you know that LASIK is the most intensively researched and studied elective surgical procedure in all of medicine? Most patients can expect a greater than 90% chance of achieving 20/20 vision without correction following LASIK.
Concern #2. LASIK is too risky. Could I permanently damage my eyesight?
No surgery is risk-free, but according to an extensive, multi-center study undertaken by the FDA and the US Dept of Defense and reported in 2014, LASIK has an excellent record of visual results, minimal risks/complications and very high patient satisfaction. More than 95 percent of patients in the study achieved 20/20 vision or better after their procedure and all were very satisfied with their results. Realistically, the only completely risk-free vision correction is wearing glasses. While safe in the vast majority of patients, risks of complications with contact lenses are well documented and have the potential for problems related to improper use or poor hygiene, which can lead to infections of the cornea. In addition, contact lens solution has the potential for contamination, which could be damaging to eyesight. And, recent studies are finding that prolonged use of contact lenses may contribute to other vision challenges over time.
Concern #3. I wouldn’t qualify for LASIK. The degree of correction I need is too severe.
Thanks to advances in technology, the vast majority of people are good candidates for LASIK surgery today. A combination of sophisticated preoperative diagnostic tools and our leading-edge lasers used during the procedure make LASIK appropriate and safe for a wide range of prescriptions. It is true that when LASIK was first introduced more than two decades ago, it was only available to patients with nearsightedness. But today, it is widely used and accepted for nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. While there may still be certain situations where LASIK is not recommended, if you, a friend or family member were told in the past that you were not a good candidate for LASIK, we recommend that you get a second opinion to see if that might have changed. Our free evaluation can help you to determine whether or not you are a candidate for the procedure.
Concern #4. LASIK is only temporary. I’ll have to undergo surgery when I’m older.
LASIK is permanent. The procedure reshapes the cornea, the clear outer surface of the eye. Once the procedure is complete, the corneal tissue that is removed never grows back. You may know of people who needed an “enhancement” or a “touch-up,” but this is a very small percentage – less than 5 percent. Enhancements are performed in order to upgrade the results after the three-month visit and up to one-year post-surgery. It is rare for LASIK-corrected vision to regress to the point that you would need to have the procedure again years later.
Concern #5. If I have LASIK, I won’t be able to have cataract surgery if I need it in the future.
There is no relationship between LASIK and cataract surgery. LASIK does not cause cataracts, accelerate the development of cataracts, or interfere with patients undergoing successful cataract surgery. LASIK changes the shape of the cornea to correct vision errors, while cataracts are a gradual clouding of the lens inside the eye, usually due to age. Patients who underwent LASIK two decades ago while in their 30s and 40s are now in their 50s and 60s and may be developing cataracts. With our Bladeless Laser Cataract Surgery procedure, we are able to offer them excellent outcomes. Thousands of people all over the world have had successful cataract surgery after LASIK.
Concern #6. LASIK causes dry eyes and terrible nighttime vision.
In the early days of LASIK, there were reports of dry eye and nighttime glare or halos. With the introduction of Bladeless LASIK and other advances, however, these issues are less of a problem for the majority of patients. It is true that following LASIK, there may be some degree of temporary dryness due to decreased tear production post-surgery. But we take steps to manage this side effect by having patients use lubricating eye drops to reduce any discomfort. The vast majority of patients report significant improvement in only a few months. Similarly, nighttime vision is also less of an issue today due to improvements in the way the laser is used to reshape the cornea. Mild symptoms almost always disappear within a few months. Recently, Dr. Robin performed LASIK on two brothers who are professional baseball players. Their major motivation for LASIK was to sharpen their nighttime vision, and they have been very pleased with the results.
Concern #7. I am too old or too young to have LASIK.
The truth is, there is really not an age limit for LASIK. However, most LASIK surgeons specify that patients must be at least 18 years old. Prior to that, your prescription may still be changing due to the normal growth and development that occurs during the teen years. If you will be attending college in the near future and want to have LASIK before starting school, schedule a consultation, so we can discuss whether vision correction is appropriate at this time. You can also take our 60-second quiz to determine if LASIK is right for you.
LASIK can also be successfully performed on patients in their 50s, 60s or even 70s. However, these age groups are more likely to have other potentially vision-affecting disorders, like cataracts. Patients who are in their 50s, 60s and 70s and desire to be less dependent on glasses should also schedule a consultation to make sure they are good candidates. If cataracts are an issue, we may recommend cataract surgery with ActiveLens™ that allows for seamless vision at all distances without the need for contacts or glasses.
Concern #8. LASIK is only for distance, and I need reading glasses.
Some patients have the misunderstanding that by the time they reach 40, they are too old for LASIK. Others think that because they now need reading glasses, they do not qualify for LASIK. Neither situation is accurate. Loss of sharp, close-up vision is called presbyopia and is common as people age. Fortunately, there is a now an effective solution – we can correct one eye for distance and the other eye for near vision. This technique is called monovision. For patients who don’t have difficulty with distance vision and have never worn glasses, it may be possible to correct just one eye for reading. The vast majority of patients tolerate monovision well. We will assess your tolerance of monovision during your preoperative evaluation. If you need reading glasses and also want LASIK, schedule a consultation to determine if monovision would be appropriate for you.
Concern #9. LASIK is too expensive for me to afford.
Consider the costs associated with corrective eyewear. The list is endless and can include glasses, contact lenses, contact lens solutions, progressive lenses, cases, prescription designer sunglasses and doctor’s visits. Now multiply that over a 20- or 30-year period. Your costs can easily run into tens of thousands of dollars, especially if you require more severe correction and need special lenses. LASIK is a one-time only cost. If you wear contact lenses, it is estimated that LASIK will pay for itself in about three years.
Concern #10. Can anyone have LASIK.
While advances in LASIK technology make permanent vision correction a reality for the vast majority of adults, there are individuals who are not good candidates. People who have chronic issues related to the cornea, other eye diseases, certain medical conditions may not be appropriate candidates for LASIK. As with any procedure, there is no guarantee, although it is important to note that LASIK has a long track record of success with millions of satisfied patients.
If you are thinking about having laser vision correction, here are “10 Questions to Ask Your LASIK Surgeon“. We encourage you to take this form to your consultation to take notes.