Pros and Cons of LASIK Surgery

The pros and cons of LASIK surgery and other refractive procedures are important to understand prior to moving forward with surgery. LASIK has many advantages, including relative freedom from visual aids like glasses and contacts. LASIK is certainly safe, effective, and well-accepted since its inception in the mid-1990s. Despite the advantages of LASIK, risks can occur as with any surgical procedure. A comprehensive evaluation by an active and experienced LASIK surgeon and the team is necessary for the patient to make an informed decision about options beyond glasses and contact lenses.

What Is LASIK?

The term LASIK stands for Laser-assisted in situ Keratomileusis. A laser is used to change the surface curvature of the cornea by removing stroma, tissue within the cornea that is responsible for the structure or form of the cornea. LASIK is one of the most commonly performed elective procedures in the world and has been in widespread use since the mid-1990s to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. LASIK is conducted as an outpatient procedure in an eye surgeon’s office-based laser suite. The results are near immediate and typically allow for a person to return to full visual function within one day.

Lasik Pros

The goal of LASIK is to reduce, if not eliminate, the need for glasses or contact lenses for most visual needs. LASIK can be a life-changing procedure for those who have suffered poor unaided vision for most of their lives. With improved vision, patients can confidently approach situations in life that may have been insurmountable without glasses or contacts prior to surgery.

LASIK Greatly Improves Your Vision

LASIK quickly, effectively, and safely improves vision for virtually all patients in almost all circumstances. The expectation of surgeons and patients alike is for the postoperative vision to equal if not exceed the preoperative vision with glasses or contact lenses. Most patients attain 20/20 unaided vision after LASIK if their eyes could be corrected to this level with glasses or contacts before surgery.

LASIK Eye Surgery Is Quick and Safe

lasik pros and cons

Patients can expect to spend a total of 90-120 minutes at the laser center on the day of surgery. A preoperative exam is required, and the bulk of the time is spent preparing the patient for surgery with relaxing medicines. LASIK itself is relatively quick, with the typical time of the procedure being 20 minutes. Vision is typically acceptable for legal driving within four hours after surgery.  

No More Glasses and Contacts

The goal with LASIK is to minimize, if not eliminate, contacts and glasses for most activities. For most patients, this is the result. If a patient is over the age of 40 and elects to treat both eyes for distance, they will likely need glasses for reading and computer usage at some point. Many years after surgery, some patients may find that their vision is not as sharp as it once was after LASIK. At this point, it is not that the LASIK has regressed or ‘failed’, but the natural lens has modified the power of the eye.

LASIK Is Affordable

LASIK is an affordable option for most patients, especially when compared to the long-term cost of glasses and contact lenses. To cover the larger upfront investment in LASIK, many patients are eligible for fee reductions through health insurance, vision correction surgery financing options, and medical savings plans.

LASIK Cons

Like all surgical interventions, LASIK and other vision correction procedures have known risks and side effects. Consideration of risk tolerance needs to be determined for every patient with a reputable surgeon and refractive team. Some people are not suitable candidates for LASIK or other refractive procedures based on individual anatomy or the degree of correction needed.

Potential Side Effects

Most side effects and adverse events with LASIK are minor, temporary, and can be overcome with proper attention. Relative dryness is typically short-term in nature (6 months) and may require more frequent drops or other dry eye therapies. Other side effects may be glare, halos, and starbursts when looking at lights at night, which are due to the correction not being ‘spot on. In these instances, an enhancement laser correction may be recommended. The need for enhancement surgery is in the low single-digit percentage and would be known in the first few months after surgery.

Potential Complications

Potential complications associated with LASIK include infection and significant inflammation, which are possible but exceedingly uncommon. Lesser complications, such as over-or under-correction, can be treated when recognized after surgery. Flap-related complications can occur, but these have been significantly reduced with continued technological advances. An active, experienced, and qualified surgeon will have very low complication rates.

Are You a Good Candidate for LASIK?

Lasik eye surgery pros and cons

Six essential factors will help determine if you are a good LASIK candidate.

  1. Your glasses prescription is within appropriate treatment ranges. Being a good candidate certainly depends on your current vision, your vision demands, and your lifestyle. In this setting, your surgeon still needs to know if your prescription is within a treatable amount.
  2. Your eye status needs to be determined. Are your eye structures healthy? Is your eye mature and is the prescription stable? LASIK is approved by the FDA for patients aged 18 and older. It is important for your eyes to be generally healthy, disease and infection-free and without prior corneal or ocular injury or scarring.
  3. Your general health and your complete medical history are important to assess during your evaluation process. Certain health issues and medications may affect healing after surgery. In some cases, laser vision correction would not be recommended. Some patients with diabetes and connective tissue disorders may still be eligible for surgery if their health conditions are stable. 
  4. Your corneal anatomy must be assessed with imaging systems to make sure you are a good candidate for surgery. The cornea is important for bending light to focus an image on the retina. In fact, the cornea does two-thirds of the work. If your cornea is misshapen, you may not achieve the results you desire. To achieve an ideal LASIK outcome, the cornea should be symmetrical, as this allows the laser the best chance to create the proper surface for accurate light bending and best vision.  
  5. It is necessary to measure your corneal thickness before surgery. The surgeon wants to leave an optimal amount of tissue untouched. The thicker one’s glasses, the more tissue that will be removed with surgery. During your consultation, an accurate measure of your corneal anatomy including thickness will be completed. 
  6. Realistic expectations are required before considering LASIK or any refractive procedure. If the patient’s expectations exceed the typical outcome, then surgery should not be performed. If the patient is educated on what could be considered reasonable outcomes and all concerns are adequately and sufficiently answered, then proceeding with surgery is an appropriate decision.  

Furthermore, the best way to determine if you are a candidate for LASIK is to work with a highly qualified surgeon and refractive team and have a complete evaluation of your eyes and vision. Working together with your surgeon and refractive team, you will have the information you need to make the best decision for you.

Are You Ready for the Better Vision?

If you are tired of wearing glasses, having your glasses fog up, dealing with the ins and outs of contact lenses, or managing eye dryness and discomfort, then LASIK or another refractive procedure may be a good option to consider. Don’t hesitate to contact us at Discover Vision Centers!

FAQ

Does LASIK last forever?

The results of LASIK depend in many respects on the individual. If done early (around age 20), one can benefit from the procedure without needing glasses for many decades. With age, if corrected for distance in both eyes, everyone will need glasses for near vision starting around age 40. Some patients close to age 40 at the time of surgery may opt for monovision to assist with near tasks.

Can eyes get worse after LASIK?

As we age, our eye health will deteriorate. The LASIK result will not change after about 6 months for virtually all patients, but internal aspects of the eye can change. If one lives long enough, all will develop cataracts that can diminish vision, but cataract surgery can restore visual function. LASIK will not cause cataract development. Other eye diseases unassociated with LASIK surgery can negatively alter vision negatively and will need to be addressed.

How soon I can resume my work after LASIK eye surgery?

Most patients feel comfortable returning to full function one day after surgery. This would include driving, working out, and performing all activities of daily living.

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