What is LASIK?
LASIK surgery has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for decades, but lots of people still don’t know what it is.
Dr. Harold Sy, an ophthalmologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, Ill., says the procedure, and the people who can benefit the most from it, have been refined over the years.
“LASIK is overall actually safer than daily contact use when considering risks of infection and misuse,” he says. “With the right patient and proper screening precautions, essentially all of the common side effects are treatable or reduceable.”
LASIK surgery is a procedure that permanently changes the shape of the cornea, the clear covering of the front of the eye, to change the patient’s vision.
The surgeon uses a laser to cut a small flap in the cornea, revealing the middle section of the cornea. Then, pulses from a computer-controlled laser vaporize a portion of the stroma before the flap is replaced.
Newer technologies allow physicians to plot out the entire eye to more individually shape it, as well as afford the new ability to correct for astigmatisms instead of only near- or farsightedness.
While it might seem like a perfect procedure for anyone with glasses, Dr. Sy says it isn’t the right fit for everyone.
“We are basically taking a 20/20 eye with glasses and turning into a 20/20 eye without glasses,” he says. “It’s important to know the patient’s goals and set expectations for what kind of difference it can make.”
First, if the patient hopes to completely avoid glasses for the rest of their life, they may be disappointed. The eye naturally changes shape when people reach their mid-40s, he says, and reading glasses are often still needed for even a patient with an optimal outcome.
“The goal is to have that not occur or to push it back years, but there’s only so much the surgery can do,” he says.
Because the procedure involves removing portions of the eye to change its shape, patients must also have the appropriate level of corneal thickness.
Dr. Sy identified who might be good candidates for LASIK:
- Between 25 and 45 years old
- Have a mild to moderate prescription, which hasn’t changed in two checkups
- Have a job or lifestyle that makes wearing glasses unsafe (fire, police, etc.)
- Are free of other pathologies or illnesses
- Are free of diseases or medications that affect healing
You should know the risks, which are all treatable with the proper screening:
- Dry eye syndrome
- Temporary blurred vision, sometimes even up to a month
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About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.
I had Lasik surgery in 1999. I went from extremely nearsighted to 20/20 vision. Twenty years later, I am at 20/25. I do need a slight prescription for reading or close work, but no adverse side effects. The procedure cost me $4500, no insurance coverage, but it was the best money I ever spent. Do not “bargain shop” for a surgeon.
Best decision I’ve made over 20+ years ago. Zero regrets!
No one is cutting into my eye. No thank you.