Lasik Procedures and Your Safety

Matt Reinbold via Flickr

Lasik surgery stands for laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis, an operation in which vision problems are corrected. In concept, Lasik surgery is relatively basic. Trained surgeons use delicate equipment to cut a flap into the outer cornea and pull the first layer back. The surgeons then remove corneal tissue in layers and then put the flap back in place. When the eyes heal correctly, problems like short-sighted vision and astigmatism can be completely cured.

The key is the phrase “heal correctly.” Lasik surgery has advanced by leaps in recent years but some risk is still involved. Despite its many benefits, dangers still exist when operating on such a delicate organ as the eye. Only by keeping up on the latest in Lasik news and dangers can you make a good decision about your own vision.

Lasik Trends and Your Safety

Lasik surgery has decades of development behind it. This has led to several distinct branches of Lasik surgery, with more being developed as technology continues to grow. Thorough research backs traditional methods, while newer techniques are not as tested but offer the promise of greater safety and faster recovery.

For example, one new method is Wavefront Lasik surgery, which uses computer imaging to map the surface of your eye and automatically adjust the laser as needed, providing immediate feedback and detailed adaptation based on the individual qualities of your eye. These automated innovations greatly increase the accuracy of Lasik operations and help decrease the likelihood of errors. As time passes, Lasik surgery grows safer.

Such technology has also allowed a wider variety of people to undergo successful operations. However, some patients will benefit more than others. If your vision has not changed at all in recent years, doctors will be more willing to operate and more confident about results. if you are healthy and can take time off of work, your chances are even better. But if you have autoimmune or inflammatory diseases, or if doctors believe you are too young (under 18) or too old (old enough to develop other eye problems) then you may not be a candidate.

In addition to new Lasik methods, scientists are also busy developing additional products and technologies to make eye surgery more effective. When it comes to Lasik surgery, the eye must properly heal after the cornea flap is replaced. If the flap does not heal correctly, permanent damage is a possibility. Aware of this key recovery process, scientists have created a glue mixture made of fibrinogen and riboflavin that helps bond the flap in place and enables it to heal more quickly. The risk of damage is decreased, and recovery time is increased.

Costs and Recovery

Lasik surgery costs between $1,500 and $2,500. While costs steadily fell throughout the early 2000s, recent technological advances have raised the cost of lasik. If you opt for customized surgery which uses wavefront technology, expect to pay the highest price. If you want traditional Lasik without the bells and whistles, risk goes up but prices sink down to the lower end of the spectrum.

Compared to other surgeries, Lasik is a speedy process, both during surgery and recovery. The simplest versions of the surgery take about 10 to 20 minutes; the recovery takes a day or two. Protective goggles are typically required for the healing period.

Current Risks

Perfection is Not Guaranteed: While ideal patients may recover with perfect vision or no traces of previous problems, that’s not always the case. Vision may be improved, but not totally fixed. Wearing contacts or glasses may still be required – and every case is different. Overcorrection and undercorrection are both dangers.

Infection: Between 2 and 5 percent of Lasik patients experience complications. One of the most common complications is infection or inflammation that can damage the cornea. In the worst cases, doctors have to remove and transplant the cornea entirely.

Dry Eyes and Other Long Term Problems: If you struggle with dry eyes now, Lasik surgery may make your symptoms worse. The side effect is permanent, and you can only hope to control it with medication or eyedrops. Burning and redness go along with this issue.

Scams and Bad Deals: With adept surgeons, chances of Lasik complications are slim to none. But a number of people fall victim to “clinics” and unscrupulous operators that promise cheap surgeries but fail to deliver when it comes to quality and safety. Sometimes paying more is worthwhile, especially when it comes to your vision.

Alternative Options to Lasik Eye Surgery

PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, is a surgery similar to the Lasik operation but it does not create a corneal flap. This can reduce complications for highly active people or those involved in contact sports and martial arts, although the recovery period is longer. If your condition cannot be treated by either option, doctors may suggest implanting a lens into your cornea or replacing your cornea lens entirely with an artificial version. If you want to avoid surgery altogether, your best option is traditional contact lenses.