Until recently, the idea of using lasers in surgery would have seemed like something out of Star Trek rather than a real possibility. However, today there are many surgical procedures that use lasers to treat a variety of illnesses. The most common laser surgery is LASIK, which stands for Laser-assisted in Situ Keratomileusis. LASIK is a procedure that uses lasers to correct impaired vision. It is an elective procedure which means that it is voluntary and deemed unnecessary for good health. It also means that many health insurance policies won’t cover the procedure. However, millions of people elect to undergo the procedure every year.
Before a person considers undergoing LASIK surgery there are some basic benefits and risks that should be understood. The most basic benefit to LASIK surgery is vision correction without the use of glasses or contact lenses. For people bothered by wearing glasses or contact lenses, LASIK is a wonderful alternative. The procedure takes just a few hours and is most often free of any discomfort. Ninety-five percent of all LASIK patients report little to no complications after recovering from the procedure.
However, LASIK is not without its share of risks. For five percent of patients who undergo the procedure there are some complications that arise. Complications include under-correction, over-correction, blurred vision, light sensitivity, dryness of the eyes and in very rare instances infection. The most common complication is under-correction which just means that the surgery didn’t correct the vision problem fully.
Under-correction can be fixed by a follow-up surgery after 90 days of the initial surgery. For people who are left with over-correction, however, there is no solution other than to be prescribed with new corrective lenses or contacts. Most symptoms of blurred vision, light sensitivity and dry eyes go away on their own after a few weeks although there are some cases where eye drops are necessary for life after LASIK surgery because some damage to the tear duct occurred during the procedure. Infections are rare but are very serious, usually requiring special treatment.
Another risk to be considered by anyone thinking about LASIK surgery is that because it is a relatively new procedure, there is nothing known about possible long-term effects. Also, a large number of people who undergo the surgery will find that they will still need to use glasses later in life as the eyes age, making LASIK only a temporary fix to vision problems.
Whether or not you choose to undergo LASIK, you should always consult an optometrist and not just a LASIK specialist. Getting advice from a doctor who isn’t making money from your procedure is the only way to get an impartial opinion about whether LASIK is a good option for correcting your vision.