Lasik - modern miracle or risky business?

Laski is an eye surgery which is done, outpatient, with a laser to supposedly correct your vision so you can get rid of your contact lenses or glasses.

It's a refinement of an earlier surgery called "radial keratonomy" in which a surgeon 'corrected' vision by cutting slits in the eye ball with a scapel. In Lasik, a flap is cut on the eyeball and then, the laser is used to remove a layer of cells or so to 'reshape' it.  The surgeon then replaces the flap and everyone hopes it heals.

The most immediate complication you might get is an infection. This requires drops in the eye several times a day.  Don't figure on being too productive at work for a couple of weeks, if you get an infection. 

About 20 percent of people who have lasik get a condition known as "dry eye".  They must put drops in their eyes several times a day because somehow the tearducts have been damaged.  And about 5 percent of people who get lasik get visual impairment (or blindness) instead of better vision as promised.

Worse yet, the biggest risk factor for glaucoma, a painful condition, is eye surgery, so guess what?  Lasik IS eye surgery.  The predecessor of lasik was also observed to significantly raise the risk for cataracts, a condition which without surgery, will cause blindness.

Lasik like its earlier cousin, doesn't work well for everyone.  Very near sighted people may need additional procedures to bring their vision to a level which enables them to dump their "eye wear".  People may also require "re-ups" (additional surgery) as they age. 

Finally, the visual acuity after lasik may be somewhat lacking.  i.e. you may have places in your field of vision where things are not so clear.  This can really bother those who use their eyes a lot.

Lasik is not cheap - (and you don't want to get a cheap eye surgeon - not a good idea).  It's also not really guaranteed despite the infomercials about it.

The Federal Trade Commission and the FDA have had a problem with Lasik, however, because it seems that the promises made in the ads don't meet up to the reality of the surgery.

To try and inform the public better, the FDA has set up a website giving a more realistic view of Lasik. Additionally the FTC has a brochure on the procedure which can be downloaded from their website.

We all have seen the glowing testimonials about how great Lasik is. Here is the list of complications and side effects from the FTC website brochure:


Risks and Possible Complications
Before the surgery, your surgeon should explain to you the risks and possible complications, and potential side effects, including the pros and cons of having one or both eyes done on the same day. This is the "informed consent" process. Some risks and possible complications include:

The following side effects are possible, but usually disappear over time. In rare situations, they may be permanent.

Not everyone is a good candidate for Lasik. Here is the list of contraindications which include diabetes:


Are You a Good Candidate for Lasik?
Lasik is not for everyone.

Does "eyewear" really look so bad now?