What are the Risks of LASIK?
More than 14 million Americans have already had LASIK and this number continues to grow. Experienced LASIK surgeons report a less than 1% complication rate. Some ophthalmologists believe the long-term risk of wearing contact lenses can exceed the one-time risk of LASIK by a factor as high as 5X. Of course, any surgical procedure carries potential risks and complications. You should be aware of the LASIK risks, which may include:
- Dry eye syndrome
- The need for glasses or contacts after surgery
- Visual symptoms, including halos, glare, starbursts or double-vision
- Vision loss
Your surgeon choice and the LASIK technology used will have a large impact on the outcome of your procedure.
Isn’t all Laser Vision Correction the Same?
No. Many of the discount centers want you to believe that LASIK should be purchased like a commodity and that surgeon experience, laser technology, diagnostic technology and follow-up care don’t matter. Laser vision correction will affect the way you see for the rest of your life. You should make your decision to have laser vision carefully, not quickly.
Is LASIK Safer than Contacts?
More than 30 million Americans use contact lenses. In addition to offering flexibility, convenience and a lens-free appearance, contacts help correct a variety of vision disorders, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. But contact lenses also present potential risks.
The FDA has warned that wearing contact lenses puts you at risk of serious eye conditions. “Because they are worn directly on the eye, they can lead to conditions such as eye infections and corneal ulcers,” says James Saviola, Branch Chief for FDA’s Division of Ophthalmic and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices. “These conditions can develop very quickly and can be very serious. In rare cases, they can lead to blindness.”
Dr. William Mathers at Oregon Health & Science University reported that daily contact lens wearers have about a one in 100 chance of developing a serious lens-related eye infection over 30 years of use. “One shouldn’t just assume that contacts are safer [than LASIK],” Dr. Mathers reported. “This may have been true at one time, but for the average person this is certainly not the case anymore.”
Can I Really Get Rid of My Glasses?
By choosing LASIK with the right doctor and advanced technology, the typical person age 18 to 45 may not need prescription glasses at all. Sometime between age 40 and 50, the typical person will likely need reading glasses whether they have had vision correction or not due to the reduced flexibility of their eyes’ lenses.
This condition is called presbyopia and can be effectively handled through a special technique known as Monovision LASIK which has given thousands the ability to see both close up and far away. If you are considering LASIK and are using reading glasses, you should ask your LASIK surgeon if Monovision LASIK will work for you.
Will LASIK Work for Me?
Most people over age 18 who suffer from nearvision, farvision or astigmatism can benefit from LASIK, but a thorough eye exam is the only way to determine if one of these procedures can achieve your expectations. The exam should include full corneal mapping (topography), corneal thickness measurement and measurement of your pupil size to ensure that laser vision correction is right for you.
Your doctor should discuss your goals and expectations as well as the risks and benefits of the procedure. You should feel comfortable with your doctor’s assessment of your anticipated outcome.
Does LASIK Hurt? When can I Return to Work?
LASIK in the hands of an experienced surgeon is virtually painless. You can expect to feel a slight sensation of pressure during the procedure and possible slight discomfort or pain after the procedure. Inserting or removing contact lenses – or just rubbing tired eyes after wearing glasses – may produce more discomfort than a LASIK procedure.
After a good night’s sleep the typical person awakens to the joy of seeing the world clearly and without lenses – usually for the first time in many years. Most people are able to return to work within 24-48 hours of their LASIK procedure.
What About Nighttime Side-Effects?
You may have seen news stories about people having difficulty driving at night after refractive surgery. Nighttime side-effects may include halos, starbursts and glare around lights and blurry vision. These effects usually diminish as the eye heals in the first three months. In extreme cases additional touch-up (enhancement) procedures will be recommended.
However, the advent of IntraLase™ and WAVELIGHT® EYE-Q lasers has expanded treatment zones and many patients who might not have been candidates for LASIK in the past can now be treated.
How do I Choose the Best Doctor?
This is definitely the most important question of all. Although LASIK is marketed as a commodity, like computers or cell phones, it is a medical procedure and in the final analysis the skill and care of the surgeon are the only significant variables. Look for a local surgeon who will personally oversee every step of the procedure and take the time to answer all your questions. Remember, the only ‘dumb’ question is the one you don’t ask.
Ensure you feel at ease with the surgeon and his staff and that you’re being treated with the respect and care that you deserve.
Finally, find out if your surgeon provides a 20/20 Money Back LASIK Guarantee – in writing. Don’t accept excuses or discouragement on this point. Both LASIK and PRK are extremely precise procedures. Choose a surgeon who is thoroughly skilled with a superb track record and one who knows precisely what results can be achieved for you. There may be no guarantees in medicine but you can, and should, expect a written commitment that you will get your full procedure fee back if your results are less than the mutual goal you set with your doctor.
If you have more questions about LASIK in Colorado Springs, contact us to schedule your free LASIK Consultation.