At one point or another, all of us had taken a moment to pause and consider the possibility of “LASIK” (short for “laser in situ keratomileusis”). Before moving forward or dismissing the idea entirely, it’s important to understand both the benefits and downsides of this corrective surgery.
This procedure involves applying a laser under the corneal flap to reshape the cornea. It is effective treating refractive errors, reversing cases of myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatisms. The surgery involves a highly specialized computer that precisely and methodically guides the laser.
When you hear the word ‘surgery’ it most likely brings you back to a time of spending seemingly an eternity in the ER waiting for you or a loved one’s procedure to conclude. Fortunately, LASIK eye surgery is quite different. The entire process takes only 15-20 minutes—about the same amount of time it takes to fill out the paperwork.
Yet another attractive feature of LASIK is that it is virtually painless, due to the numbing eye drops the doctor will apply prior to surgery. After the surgery, some patients may feel slight pressure around the eye or a gritty feeling—like an eyelash is stuck inside—but it can usually be remedied with aspirin.
You also don’t have to worry about leaving the doctor’s office looking like a bounded mummy, since the procedure does not require any stiches or bandages. To protect your new eyes from the sun’s harmful rays, your doctor will provide you with a pair protective sunglasses that are crucial to your recovery.
Of course, no comprehensive overview would be complete without including the potential repercussions. Firstly, whenever you are having surgery performed, there is always risk of infection, inflammation or accidents that can lead to swollen corneas or complete loss of vision. Furthermore, this procedure is not 100% perfect; there have been incidents of “under” or “over” correction (though unlikely), and recipients that have earlier dealt with night vision problems like fuzziness and streaking can continue to experience these symptoms. Dryness is not uncommon as well, and new patients sometimes temporarily display red freckles on the whites of their eyes, otherwise known as “subconjunctival hemorrhages.”
It’s important to note that LASIK is not guaranteed to completely eliminate your need for glasses and contacts, especially as time passes and your vision continues to change with age. Moreover, most insurance companies will not cover this procedure, making it much more expensive than cheaper alternatives like contact lenses. Because this is still a generally new medical development, there have been minimal studies conducted on the long-term effects of this procedure.
It is crucial that you receive a thorough preoperative evaluation by your doctor to make sure you will benefit from the surgery. Certain requirement—such as being under18 years of age, having a healthy cornea, showing no signs of an active eye disease, and maintaining at least two years of a stable eye glass prescription—will help your doctor decide if you are a worthy candidate.
Just like you would with any surgical procedure, it is always beneficial to weigh the advantages and disadvantages. While LASIK treatment could be a miracle solution for some, others may not benefit as well. It is important to speak to your doctor to first decide if you are an acceptable candidate, and to also make yourself fully aware of all the risks involved.