Weighing the Safety Aspects and Assessing the Risks of Lasik Surgery
Lasik eye surgery, short form for laser in situ keratomileusis, is the most exercised surgical option for correcting eye vision discrepancies in America. Its immense popularity has a lot to do with the significant vision improvement it brings about completely dispensing eyeglasses or contact lenses. Popular as it may be, Lasik does carry a bit of risk and if you fancy yourself as a candidate for eye surgery, you would be cautioned to be aware of the pros and cons of going under the laser. Let’s start with the negative news.
The Disadvantages of Lasik Surgery
The Skill of the Surgeon Determines the Outcome
The outcome of the surgery is as good as the surgeon, hence do not hesitate to consult an experienced specialist, one who has performed lots of surgery with fewer dissatisfied patients (a track record of successful operations will count). The skill of the surgeon plays a very important role because he will be removing sensitive eye tissues and the changes he brings about will be irreversible. The surgeon will be restructuring the cornea, the outer bulging dome of the eye. Even the slightest error can alter the refractive powers of the cornea and can exacerbate vision issues for a long time. An unsatisfactory surgery means a higher likelihood of repeating the procedure or you may end up using corrective eye-wear, something you originally set out to avoid.
The Surgeon may Remove more of the Corneal Tissue or Less
When too little corneal tissue is removed (an under correction), shortsightedness may increase making you strain to view objects that are far from the eyes. A repeat surgery may be required to correct this error. If a bigger segment of corneal tissue is removed than originally planned (overcorrection), this affects the farsightedness (ability to view near objects), and the only way to correct such an error is by using glasses or contacts. Such an outcome negates the very purpose of laser eye surgery – freedom from external visual aids.
Lasik does not Guarantee Freedom from Spectacles and Contact Lenses
The inability to use external eye-wear in the sports arena and many other professions or the undesirability of using eye-wear in the glamour industry is the number one motivation for people opting for Lasik surgery. Sports persons, fashion models and film world celebrities are increasingly opting for Lasik, motivated by the need to address practical difficulties or to improve cosmetic appearances. But the vision clarity that Lasik brings about is not permanent.
Eye disease, aging and physical trauma can change your prescription any time by bringing about changes in the eye lens or by scarring the corneal surface and through alterations in eyeball length. People in their 50s generally suffer presbyopia, a gradual weakening of the eye muscles that results in a less elastic eye lens. All these conditions may require eye-wear with suitably corrected refractive errors. The fact that you have undergone laser eye surgery does not guarantee protection from future eye changes or the necessity of wearing glasses and contacts.
Complications May Queer the Pitch
The most serious complication that could jeopardize normal vision is corneal distortion. The microkeratome blade may cut the epithelial layer imperfectly, resulting in a flap that will not heal properly. The excimer laser could change the surface of the cornea in such a manner that vision is either partly or permanently impaired. In such situations, glasses and contact lenses may not correct the underlying problem as efficiently as they would have done before the Lasik surgery was attempted.
An infection may devastate the eye to the extent of corneal surface becoming scarred, taking more time to heal and requiring additional corrective surgery. To prevent vision from deteriorating, corneal transplantation may be needed.
Keratoconus (or corneal ectasia) is a condition where the cornea loses its definitive shape, changing from a dome shape to a more conical form triggering a host of visual problems. Such complications were more common when traditional (as opposed to more advanced) laser surgery was attempted.
Side Effects that Refuse to Go Away
A temporary increase in the eye’s sensitivity to light, glare, exploding lights, halos and shadows around objects or double vision often trouble Lasik patients in the short term, but some of these side effects may linger on seriously affecting one’s ability to work. If Lasik is performed only in one eye, it may distort the vision causing eye strain. This happens when the other eye tries to assess depth and distance as it struggles to cope with the refractive corrections. For at least a year following the Lasik procedure, some form of eye-wear must be worn as a shield to prevent physical injury to the cornea. This may seriously inconvenience sports persons and those who are engaged in military duties.
The Advantages of Lasik Surgery
Guarantees Instant Enhancement in Visual Acuity
The results are immediate and the changes are noticeable within 24 hours following the surgery. Many people report 20/20 vision, and even people accustomed to glasses and contact lenses report 20/20 vision to near perfect 20/40 vision that is as good as the vision provided by external glasses and contacts before surgery. The singular advantage is that all these people are freed from the compulsion to use glasses and contacts.
Offers the Freedom to Dispense Glasses and Contacts
Sports persons find glasses undesirable as eye-wear stands in the way of excelling in their profession. Many people reject contact lenses for health reasons. Contacts deprive the cornea of much-needed oxygen and reduce the tear gland’s capacity to flush out bacteria and toxins. Lasik offers an opportunity to dispense external visual aids by surgically correcting the cornea. Laser surgery is a more permanent change that corrects refractive errors at least for the foreseeable future. Lasik improves the eye comfort factor by many stages.
The Risks and Complications are Exaggerated
Lasik retains top billing as one of the safest and the most result oriented procedures in eye care having vouched by thousands of candidates who have emerged successful with their visual acuity vastly improved. The side effects do exist but these are minor and tolerable and are usually overcome during the recovery phase. Complications are rare. The more advanced bladeless Lasik procedures have minimized such errors even further. No person has been reported to have gone blind after Lasik procedures.
Three-Dimensional Eye Testing Ensures Better Pre-Surgical Screening
The fact that you are reclining on an excimer laser unit means that you have undergone rigorous screening and you happen to be the right candidate for Lasik surgery. A thorough medical screening of one’s personal and family medical history and a three-dimensional computerized testing of the eye rules out a significant chunk of risks and complications.
The Last Word
Laser guided corneal surface correction is an unbridled success evidenced by the growing band of people who have emerged successful with their defective vision restored to normalcy. A rigorous screening process ensures that only the right candidate is selected for surgery. Professional counseling ensures that candidates get an opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of the surgery, understand the risks involved and get to choose a host of alternative treatments before they come under the laser beam. For the better part, Lasik remains an elective surgery, an option that is exercised only if your condition warrants surgical intervention and your professional responsibilities do not prevent you from availing its benefits.
- Lasik does not guarantee freedom from spectacles and contact lenses.
- Lasik is a definitive choice if you feel that the benefits outweigh the risk of complications and side effects.
- People in military service, glamour industry and contact sports may have to rethink the dangers of being rested for repeat surgery or prolonged treatment of side effects.