The Truth About LASIK by: Carolyn B. Hebson, MD

LASIK is a well-established procedure for the treatment of near sightedness, far sightedness, and astigmatism. To date, over 16 million procedures have been performed worldwide, making LASIK among the most common elective surgeries. But there are common misconceptions about LASIK, which may be holding people back from experiencing the benefits of this remarkable procedure. In this blog I will offer the facts and debunk the most common LASIK myths.

Myth #1 – LASIK is great but it doesn’t last

Fact – LASIK lasts years and even decades for patients who are good candidates for the procedure. What makes someone a good candidate? First, you should have a stable glasses or contact lens prescription for at least one year. In addition, age is important. Provided that you are a good candidate, younger patients enjoy clear hassle-free vision longer than patients who choose to have LASIK later in life.

After age 40 our near vision declines because our aging lens becomes more rigid and less mobile. This change occurs regardless of LASIK and results in the need for reading glasses. In our 50’s and 60’s we begin to develop cataracts or clouding of the lens. People who have LASIK at age 50 should expect a shorter period of clear hassle-free vision because they are closer to the age when cataracts occur.

iDesign LASIK is FDA approved for patients age 18 and older and provides for a fully customized, long lasting LASIK treatment.

Myth #2 – Contact lenses are safer than LASIK

Fact – Contact lens wear is not without risks, particularly infection. Contact lens wearers should practice thorough cleaning and should not sleep, shower, or swim in contact lenses. Those that do not follow these guidelines are 15 times more likely to develop a sight threatening infection that is painful, requires prolonged, expensive treatment, and can result in severe and permanent vision loss. A 2009 study by McGee and Mathers showed that risk of vision loss from routine contact lens wear and LASIK were essentially the same.

So, are contact lens wearers or LASIK patients more satisfied with their choice for vision correction? A clinical trial of 1800 patients demonstrated that satisfaction levels were consistently higher in those who had undergone LASIK as compared with continued contact lens wear throughout a 3-year follow-up period. From a safety standpoint, the rates of eye infections and abrasions were over twice as high every year in the group that continued to wear contact lenses compared to the group that chose LASIK (Price, 2016).

Myth #3 – LASIK is too expensive

Fact – The average pair of eyeglasses costs about $200, but people frequently pay over $500 for designer frames. Glasses don’t last forever and most people buy new frames regularly or rotate between several pairs, including prescription sunglasses. The cost of disposable contact lenses is about $250 a year and contact lenses for astigmatism tend to be even more expensive.

The cost of contact cleaning supplies should also be considered. Contact lens wearers spend about $200 a year on contact lens solution. This can bring your total vision-related expenses to over $600 per year. When you do the math, the cost of wearing glasses and/or contact lenses can reach tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime. And when you compare the one-time cost of LASIK to the lifetime cost of prescription eyewear, LASIK is easily the more cost effective choice in the long run.

Myth #4 – Physicians would never have LASIK on their own eyes

Fact – Refractive surgeons are more than four times more likely to have had refractive surgery than the general population and 91% of refractive surgeons have recommended refractive surgery to their immediate family members. (Kezirian, 2015) Physician satisfaction after laser vision correction was 95.3% in a survey of 132 doctors who had undergone LASIK. (Pasquali, 2014)

Myth #5 – LASIK is painful

Fact – Many people are surprised to learn that they do not experience significant or long-lasting pain with LAISK. Medication is available prior to surgery to help you relax and topical anesthetic is used to thoroughly numb the eye during the procedure. After LASIK, some people experience foreign body sensation, light sensitivity, and tearing for the first four hours. But, most are pain free and have excellent vision when they wake up the next morning.

Myth #6 – The safety and efficacy of LASIK has not been proven

Fact –The most definitive and unbiased LASIK studies were conducted by the US-FDA and are known as the PROWL studies. In PROWL-1 and PROWL-2 99% and 96% of patients achieved 20/20 or better vision without glasses by 3 months postoperatively and no patients required an enhancement LASIK procedure. (FDA website)

In a world literature review of LASIK 95.4% of patients were satisfied with their outcome and LASIK scored higher in patient satisfaction than any other elective procedure including abdominoplasty, liposuction, brow lift, facial skin tightening, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation or reduction, and botulinum toxin injection. (Solomon, 2009)

Myth #7 – I am not a candidate for LASIK because I have astigmatism

Fact – LASIK is better than ever for the treatment of astigmatism and the iDesign treatment is approved for up to 5 D of astigmatism. In a clinical study of 149 eyes with mixed astigmatism, 92% saw 20/20 or better after LASIK using iDesign wavefront technology. (Donnenfeld, 2016)

Myth #8 – LASIK is the only option to reduce my dependency on glasses or contact lenses

Fact – LASIK is not the only surgical option to reduce your dependency on glasses. At VisionFirst we do not believe in a one size fits all approach. We provide free refractive surgery screenings to evaluate your goals and make our recommendations with your needs in mind. Contact us today at (205) 949-2020 for your free consultation.

REFERENCES:

  1. McGee HT et al. Laser in situ keratomileusis versus long-term contact lens wear: Decision analysis. J Cat Refract Surg, 2009; 35(11): 1860-1867.
  2. Price M et al. Three-Year Longitudinal Survey Comparing Visual Satisfaction with LASIK and Contact Lenses. Ophthalmology, 2016; 123(8): 1659-1666.
  3. Kezirian GM et al. Prevalence of laser vision correction in ophthalmologists who perform refractive surgery. J Cat Refract Surg, 2015; 41:1826-1832.
  4. Pasquali TA et al. Long-term follow-up after laser vision correction in physicians: Quality of life and patient satisfaction. J Cat Refract Surg, 2014; 40(3); 395-402
  5. FDA website – Patient reported outcomes with PROWL-1
  6. FDA website – Patient reported outcomes with PROWL-2
  7. Solomon K et al. LASIK world literature review. Ophthalmology, 2009; 116(4); 691-701.
  8. Donnenfeld E. Debunked: LASIK myths and misconceptions. Cat & Ref Surg Today, 2016: 59-63.

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