Is Lasik Eye Surgery Worth The Risk?
Posted by Catherine Morgan on May 1, 2008
Is Lasik Surgery Worth The Risk? — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted at Qvisory)
I recently did a post on the news frenzy surrounding Lasik Eye Surgery. It seemed like the alarms were sounding, and we were going to soon find out that this procedure was much more risky then once thought.
The Los Angeles Times points out that the FDA is going to review reported side effects from Lasik eye surgery:
Almost 8 million Americans have had the procedure, and most ended up discarding their eyeglasses or contact lenses without long-term complications, according to doctors and health officials. But a small fraction complain of serious side effects that have left their eyes painfully dry and their vision marred by ghostly shadows or starbursts of color. Some say their sight is so poor they can’t watch a movie or drive at night.
But after researching the news and facts on Lasik surgery, I came to the conclusion that the benefits of this surgery (at least for me) far outweigh any risk. Every person who I’ve talked to that has had this procedure was happy with it. Even the people who suffered with side effects for months after their surgery, still had no regrets.
Like Miriam from The Moh You Know:
Last November I got Lasik surgery and have never seen better! Of course, there were a few side effects the first couple of months after which included:
- the first night was tough and painful, but the next morning I was pain-free
- very minimal dry eye
- halos and rings during night time driving
- light sensitivity
It all wore off within a few months and I haven’t seen better. It’s the best thing I’ve done to myself.
So, what is Lasik? And how do you know if it’s right for you? This is from the FDA website:
LASIK is a surgical procedure intended to reduce a person’s dependency on glasses or contact lenses.
LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis and is a procedure that permanently changes the shape of the cornea, the clear covering of the front of the eye, using an excimer laser. A mechanical microkeratome (a blade device) or a laser keratome (a laser device) is used to cut a flap in the cornea. A hinge is left at one end of this flap. The flap is folded back revealing the stroma, the middlesection of the cornea. Pulses from a computer-controlled laser vaporize a portion of the stroma and the flap is replaced. There are other techniques and many new terms related to LASIK that you may hear about.
At WebMD, you can also find a section about some of the disadvantages of this eye surgery:
- Changes made to the cornea cannot be reversed after LASIK laser eye surgery.
- Corrections can only be made by additional LASIK laser eye surgeries.
- LASIK laser eye surgery is expensive, typically costing $2,200 to $2,250 per eye; though compared to the cost of glasses and contact lenses, the price is reasonable.
- LASIK laser eye surgery is technically complex. Problems may occur when the doctor cuts the flap, which can permanently affect vision.
- LASIK laser eye surgery can cause a loss of “best” vision with or without glasses at 1 year after surgery. Your best vision is the highest degree of vision that you achieved while wearing your contacts or eyeglasses.
For the record there is no surgery that has zero risk, and that goes for Lasik eye surgery as well. So, if you are considering having this procedure done, you need to make your own decision about whether it is worth the risk. If you decide that you want to have this surgery, then the most important step becomes finding a good Lasik doctor:
This is probably the hardest choice to be made after the initial decision to have refractive surgery. Factors such as word of mouth, reputation, certifications, and membership in associations are clearly important.
What the educated patient needs is a surgeon and center that not only minimizes the risks as much as possible, but also does everything possible to maximize the visual outcome. Although it is tempting to assume the surgeon or center that advertises the most is probably the best, in many cases this is not true.
What if you’re not sure about Lasik? Are there any other alternatives? Of course there are. This is from an Associated Press article about alternatives to Lasik:
Frightened by headlines about Lasik side effects? Lasik gets all the advertising, but there are half a dozen alternate eye surgeries — from a simpler laser approach to implantable lenses — that might solve your squint.
They all have their own risks. A key is finding a surgeon who doesn’t have a favorite but is qualified to evaluate patients for all of the options, to find the best fit.
If you’re like me and blind as a bat without your glasses, you might want to look into Lasik. Don’t let the media hoopla frighten you; make your decision based on facts, not fear.
I am a Contributing Editor for BlogHer Health & Wellness and founder of The Political Voices of Women. I am a writer, blogger, nurse, and mother of two. As someone who suffers with chronic illness, I am also a patient advocate, and host a blog in support of living well with chronic illness. To learn more about me and my many blogs, visit my website CatherineBlogs.