Sorting out “marketing propaganda” from unbiased “evidence-based” information about LASIK
by Craig Bindi, MD
On this page, I highlight the most common topics that may be misrepresented by“fairy-tale” type advertisements and provide links to detailed evidence-based information.
Dry Eyes: Being bothered by “Dry Eyes” is one the most common problems that I treat in my ophthalmology practice, especially immediately after LASIK. Luckily, when managed systematically and proactively, these symptoms should be very treatable and temporary. For a detailed description, read: ‘LASIK & Dry Eyes’
Side Effects & Complications: As a surgeon, safety is my single most important concern. I intentionally make every effort to make laser vision correction as safe as possible. The best way that I know to avoid complications is carefully screen patients prior to surgery, use modern technology with meticulous surgical technique, and to be personally involved with the follow-up care of my patients. Read: ‘LASIK & Safety’
Night vision: If you talk to friends that had LASIK many years ago, they may describe seeing halos or glare at night. More advanced technology has greatly reduced the incidence and severity of these problems. With modern Wavefront LASIK technology, studies show that it is ten times more likely for patients to see better at night after LASIK than they did before LASIK with glasses/contacts. To read about the results of a pertinent scientific study on this topic, read: ‘LASIK & Night Vision’
Accuracy & Enhancements: The goal of laser vision correction is to eliminate one’s complete dependence on glasses/contact lenses. For most patients this is a very realistic goal. But, even in the best of hands, LASIK is not 100% accurate (on the first attempt). After undergoing LASIK/Epi-LASIK, if a patient still has some residual near-sightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, a re-treatment procedure can fine-tune one’s vision, if desired and appropriate. All objective data reveals that the possibility of a LASIK re-treatment ranges from 2% to 10%. There is a higher chance or needing a re-treatment in patients that have a larger correction, or use older technology.
The re-treatment rate with early LASIK techniques ranged from 5-10%. Improvements in Modern LASIK have improved the accuracy and reduced the possibility of a re-treatment to about 2% to 4% (even with a great surgeon and best technology) for typical corrections. In reality, this is a very low percentage and there is no other surgical procedure that can rival the accurate results of LASIK/Epi-LASIK. In my ophthalmology practice, I make every effort to get it right the first time.
Permanence: How long does LASIK last? While laser vision correction does permanently reshape the cornea, other age-related eye changes may eventually occur that can cause vision to decline. On average, LASIK results in clear vision for about ten years or so. Just like you wouldn’t expect a new prescription of glasses or contacts to last forever, a realistic patient will understand that LASIK results probably won’t last forever either. Refractive drift will usually occur with age, which explains why one might desire to update their glasses or contacts or do a LASIK re-treatment. If your vision ever becomes unsatisfactory (or worsens sooner than you had hoped), we have set up our “Extended Vision Plan” for your peace of mind.
Near Vision: For patients who are over 40, you should become familiar with the natural age-related condition, called Presbyopia, in which one’s near vision begins to gradually worsen with age. If you use bifocals, trifocals, progressive lenses, reading glasses or need to take off your distance glasses for close work, read “LASIK & Near Vision”
Alternatives: LASIK is not for everyone. While our practice has become well known for LASIK procedures, Our team will be able to help determine if another procedure, such as Epi-LASIK, SMILE, Visian ICL, Corneal Inlays or refractive lens implants, would be a better choice for you.
Conclusion: After considering potential downsides, we should also consider the most common results. The usual LASIK results are quite remarkable, just like your friends have told you! In one clinical trial conducted for the United States FDA, it was shown that 98% of patients that underwent Wavefront LASIK could see “20/20 or better” without glasses after LASIK. In this study, 100% of these patients could see “20/40 or better” after wavefront LASIK, which is good enough to pass the DMV test in California. In another nationwide survey of over 1,800 LASIK patients, 99% reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their results.