LASIK surgery is the most commonly performed laser eye surgery in the United States, but its popularity doesn’t necessarily make it flawless. LASIK, which stands for laser assisted in situ keratomileusis, is used to treat myopia (also known as nearsightedness), hyperopia (also known as farsightedness) and astigmatism. Over 600,000 LASIK surgeries are performed in the United States every year.
But LASIK eye surgery is not for everybody. There are people who make better candidates for the surgery than others and to obtain optimum results people should discuss all risk factors with their doctor. Potential patients should also understand all the risks involved with the surgery.
For some people, just the thought of a doctor cutting their eye is enough to turn them off the idea of LASIK surgery, but others feel it is a price they are willing to pay just to give up wearing either glasses or contact lenses. Just like any other surgery, LASIK has risks involved with it. If you’re thinking about LASIK, there are a few things you should know first.
The FDA has released this video to alert people to the risks to LASIK patients and answer some questions about who makes a good surgery candidate:
Before LASIK Eye Surgery
Before you have LASIK surgery, talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks associated with the surgery. Give your doctor information about all medical conditions you have and all medications you are taking. These can both affect the outcome of the surgery. Ask your doctor for a copy of your vision measurement before surgery so you will have it in case you ever need cataract surgery in the future.
Make sure you get a copy of the patient information booklet from the doctor which is provided by the laser manufacturer. The booklet should contain a detailed list of risks and benefits, what to expect before, during and after surgery and a consent form. If you have any questions about the information provided in the booklet, make sure you speak with your doctor about it before the day of your surgery.
The surgery is typically a relatively fast procedure. During the surgery, the doctor will make an incision in your eye so they can create a flap. The flap is pulled back so that the laser can target the corneal stoma. This creates the corrections to your vision. Then the doctor will put the flap back into place making sure that no dirt or air has gotten underneath it. Then your eyes will be allowed to heal naturally.
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Good Candidate for LASIK?
Your doctor will help you determine if you are a good candidate for LASIK surgery. There are a few factors which lower your chances of being a good candidate, which include:
- taking medications which interfere with wound healing, such as steroids
- having certain medical conditions, such as diabetes
- currently or previously suffering from certain eye conditions, such as glaucoma, herpes infection, or inflammation inside the eye
- previous eye injury
- previous eye surgery
- changes in vision correction prescriptions (glasses or contacts) within the last year
Risks After Surgery
After you have decided to have the surgery and the big day has come and gone, you are probably going to expect your vision to be wonderful. Your vision may not be perfect after the surgery. You may even need additional surgeries to achieve the outcome you are hoping for. You should also know that the results of the surgery may not be permanent. Over time, your vision could deteriorate. There are some side effects to the surgery you may experience, including
- sensitivity to light
- dry eyes
- blurred vision
- halos in your vision
- suffering from glare
- starbursts in your vision
- suffering from double vision
The issues you experience after a LASIK procedure may vary from mild to severe. The side effects may be an inconvenience or they may completely interfere with your everyday life.
Alternatives to LASIK
There are alternatives to LASIK. Of course the first one most people think about is corrective lenses. People who are tired of or frustrated about wearing corrective lenses, whether eye glasses or contacts, are the people who usually seek out LASIK. If you decide LASIK is not for you and you really don’t want to continue wearing corrective lenses, you have another option.
Vision training is a proven alternative method and works by strengthening your eye muscles through specific eye exercises which first strengthen and then relax your eye muscles. Although it is not an instant fix like LASIK is often claimed to be, natural vision training is a safer route to eliminating corrective lenses forever.
Just like any other form of exercise, you must work at it on a regular basis for a period of time to achieve the desired results. And once you achieve the results, you have to continue keeping your eyes strong.
But it is only a commitment of a few minutes each day. Just think of how long it takes to put your contacts in, take them out, and clean them each day. Wouldn’t you rather be doing eye exercises during that time and saving yourself from the cost and hassle of a lifetime of contacts?
This form of natural vision improvement can help if you suffer from nearsightedness, farsightedness, presbyopia or astigmatism. It is a great way to end your need for corrective lenses without risking going under the knife for an uncertain outcome.
For more information about LASIK procedures, you can always check out information from the FDA at www.fda.gov/lasik.