LASIK eye surgery is one of the latest entrants in vision correction procedures, which is fast gaining popularity. Read on to know more about the pros and cons of this eye surgery.
LASIK eye surgery or laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis is a surgical procedure that uses laser for vision correction. The procedure aims at correction of refractive errors, by reshaping the cornea. With this surgery, the light that falls on the cornea can be properly focused on the retina. This eliminates the requirement of glasses or contacts and improves vision to a great extent.
During the surgery, eye drops are used to numb the eyes. The cornea is held in place using a suction ring. A thin, round, and hinged flap is cut from the outer layer of the cornea, using a special device. This corneal flap is not removed entirely, but is pulled back so that the surgeon can work on the tissues that lie beneath it. The next step is to reshape the underlying corneal tissues, as per the requirement of the patient. The pattern of reshaping the cornea may vary from one patient to another, according to the underlying vision problem. Once the reshaping is done with laser, the corneal flap is repositioned and left to heal on its own. No suture is required to hold the flap in place. Though this surgery is very popular as one of the effective vision correction procedures, some individuals may develop certain side effects and complications. So it is advisable to evaluate LASIK eye surgery pros and cons, before opting for it.
Like any other surgical treatment, LASIK eye surgery too carry its own risks and complications. Recent surveys show that around 90% of the patients are satisfied with the results of the surgery. However, the procedure is not completely risk-free. First of all, let us take a look at the advantages of LASIK eye surgery.
- Vision Correction: This surgical procedure is highly effective in correcting refractive errors like, myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness). Most of the patients who have undergone the surgery is satisfied with the results.
- Outpatient Procedure: Being an outpatient surgical procedure, LASIK eye surgery takes around 10 to 15 minutes for each eye. The procedure may be done on both eyes on the same session, or on different days.
- Minimal Discomfort: This surgery is associated with minimal pain and discomfort. While anesthesia is administered in the form of eye drops, medications can also be used to relax the patient during the procedure. This surgery involves no sutures.
- Fast Results: Another advantage is fast healing, quick recovery, and good results. In most cases, vision will stabilize within a few days. Immediate results can be seen in patients with mild vision problems.
- One-time Surgery: Usually, this surgery is found to be a one-time procedure, which is almost painless and is done within a matter of minutes. However, with increasing age, some individuals may require reading glasses. In that case, they may opt for another surgery for vision correction.
- No More Glasses/Contacts: LASIK eye surgery can be a boon for those, who are allergic to contacts and those, who want to get rid of the same. The procedure is highly beneficial for swimmers, divers, and others for whom wearing glasses or contacts is almost impossible.
- Poor Outcome: Though the procedure is said to be highly effective, some individuals may not experience any considerable improvement, even after undergoing the surgery. It is also argued that the results are good only for selected patients with mild or moderate short-sightedness and not for those with severe short-sightedness and long-sightedness.
- Side Effects: In case of LASIK eye surgery, side effects are not uncommon. While some may develop glares, halos, and double vision, problems with night vision are also not rare. Most of the patients may experience dry eyes for a few months after the surgery, but for some, severe dry eye syndrome may last longer and requires treatment. Other side effects include over-correction, under-correction, induced astigmatism, light sensitivity, etc.
- Complications: This surgery may cause complications, like corneal infections, displacement or folds in the corneal flap, slipped flap, etc. Subconjunctival hemorrhage and thinning of the cornea are also experienced by some.
- Correction Surgery: In some cases, another surgery may be required either to improve the results or to fix the problems created by the earlier surgery. While under-correction is remedied with a second surgery, over-correction is often remedied with contact lenses or glasses.
- Glasses or Lenses: Freedom from glasses or lenses is said to be an added advantage of LASIK eye surgery. But in some cases, glasses or lenses may be required, even after the surgery.
- Vision Loss/Irreversible Damage: LASIK eye surgery involves shaping of the corneal tissues. In some rare cases, loss of vision or irreversible damage may happen, as a result of this procedure. Further surgeries and treatment may sometimes correct the damage.
- High Costs: LASIK eye surgery is expensive and most of the insurance companies do not cover this procedure.
Ideal Candidate for LASIK Eye Surgery
This surgical procedure is not meant for each and every person with a refractive error. So it is necessary to assess whether the person is a good candidate for LASIK eye surgery. The following are some guidelines formulated by the FDA and American Academy of Ophthalmology.
- Age: He/she must be 18 years of age, as the vision keeps on changing in younger people. In some cases, the permissible age limit could be 21. Rarely, this surgery may be done on young people too.
- Pregnancy and Nursing: LASIK eye surgery is not allowed on pregnant and nursing women. This is because these conditions affect the accuracy of eye measurements regarding refraction.
- Prescription Medication: If you are using prescription medication like, Accutane, oral prednisone, Cardarone, Imitrex, etc., you will not be allowed to undergo this eye surgery.
- Medical Conditions: A good candidate for LASIK eye surgery must be healthy. He should not have medical conditions like diabetes, cataract, herpes eye infection, AIDS, keratoconus, autoimmune disorders, like rheumatoid arthritis, glaucoma, lupus, etc.
- Stable Eye Prescription: If your eye prescription keeps on changing every year, you are not an ideal candidate for LASIK surgery. While minor changes are not a cause of concern, major variations could be a hindrance for those interested in this surgery.
These are some of the vital guidelines that have to be taken into consideration while deciding whether a person is ideal for this surgery or not. In some cases, the employers may prohibit their employees from undergoing LASIK eye surgery. So the person planning to have this surgery done, must also inquire about the same.
In short, LASIK eye surgery is claimed to be a popular and effective vision correction procedure. Though most of the patients are satisfied with the results, adverse effects and poor outcome are not uncommon. So it is advisable to discuss with your doctor and understand more about the surgery. Your doctor must provide you with information about its benefits, disadvantages, risks, and complications, in view of your case. In short, LASIK eye surgery has to be performed only after discussing each and every aspect with your eye surgeon. You must find an expert eye surgeon, who has a good experience and success rate in LASIK surgery.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.