Why not LASIK?

By: Dr. Don Miller

Laser eye surgery, such as "LASIK" (laser in-situ Keratomileusis) or "PRK" (photorefractive Keratectomy), receives a lot of promotion as well as honest news. Some stories rave about athletes giving up contact lenses after laser surgery. Others claim that LASIK is easy, safe, and better than contacts or spectacles. Not true!

Number One: understand that laser surgery covers more than correction of focus. Glaucoma is a condition of excessive pressure inside the eye, which can lead to blindness in several ways. Medium cases can be treated with prescription eye drops to reduce the pressure, but require pressure readings at intervals set by the eye physician. Severe cases, or cases where the pressure is not controlled by drugs, can be treated with surgery to improve drainage of excess fluid. Such surgery can be made with laser bursts to the eye’s trabecular meshwork. For extreme cases, microsurgical cutting is needed.

Second: understand that LASIK and PRK are far from risk free, which is almost never mentioned in "infomercials" and sponsored reviews, articles, press releases. "Re shaping" of the cornea means removing bits and pieces. Those bits can't be put back. If the results are not satisfactory, the patient will have to use contacts or spectacles anyway, if such correction still works. The risks are so great that members of the active US Military are forbidden such treatments.

Number Three: understand that laser vision correction is never perfect. The LASIK industry claims a 95 percent success rate, but that success might only be to 20/40 vision, which is legal for driving in most states. Most people will feel better with correction to the average defined as 20/20. Persons born with better than 20/20 vision, but later needing correction, will most likely be unhappy with even 20/20, to say nothing of 20/40.

Number Four: understand that laser correction of vision might well not last. It is pretty obvious that people using spectacles or contact lenses have to get prescriptions updated with time. Unless you are someone making big bucks off laser eye surgery, why should you expect aging of re shaped eyes not to affect focus? Can you spell "d-u-m-b", boys and girls?

Alternatives to LASIK and PRK:
Lenses outside the eye, spectacles, can correct most conditions of focus provided that the eye is otherwise healthy. Lenses on the eye, contacts, can do a better job for some conditions, not quite as well for others. A relatively new technology is "Implantable contact lenses" ("ICL") in which a lens is inserted in front of or instead of the eye's own lens, behind the pupil. ICL is fast, and has an easier recovery than for LASIK & PRK. But MOST IMPORTANT, ICL can be reversed and updated, the same as with spectacles and contacts.
ICL is probably the best option after cataract surgery to remove the clouded lens.

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For more articles about safe and enjoyable use of contact lenses and spectacles, see 3daycontacts.com/articlelist.htm by Dr. Don Miller.

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