“Is laser eye surgery safe?”
“What are the risks with this kind of procedure?”
“Are there any side effects with LASIK?”
These questions—and more—are people’s most common concerns about LASIK. We understand that there are some misconceptions and confusion out there, from how much it hurts to how safe it is, which is why we’ve compiled this blog post.
We want to answer everything you ever wanted to know about LASIK, including how to know if the treatment is right for you to how much downtime will be needed. Keep reading for all the answers to your most pressing LASIK questions.
LASIK is considered to be one of the safest surgeries in modern medicine
If you’ve been considering the procedure, you’re far from being alone: In an article published by EyeWorld, it was estimated that since 1991, some 40 million people worldwide have had laser vision correction.
There’s a reason why more and more people choose to get this procedure instead of following more traditional methods, like wearing glasses or contact lenses.
That’s because LASIK is well-recognized as a safe and effective procedure with proven results. Since first being made available, LASIK has evolved significantly.
In 1999, LASIK was first performed using Wavefront technology to map the corneal surface, thereby giving patients a treatment that accurately corrects their unique prescription.
Today, laser eye surgery is often considered to be one of the safest in modern medicine. And with 25 years of technological advancement, it’s easy to see why.
When it comes to LASIK and its record of safety, it’s clear: The numbers speak for themselves. A recent study published in JAMA Ophthalmology called Symptoms and Satisfaction of Patients in the Patient-Reported Outcomes with LASIK (PROWL) Studies determined that 98% of patients reported being extremely satisfied with the results from their procedure.
And according to a recent article that collected data from clinical studies between 2008 and 2015, patients have been experiencing better visual outcomes now than ever before.
First, find out if you’re a good candidate for LASIK
One of the main reasons people choose to get LASIK is because of the procedure’s numerous lifestyle benefits. For example, careers like pilots, air traffic controllers, emergency response teams photographers, surgeons, or professional athletes, enjoy the freedom of no longer needing to depend on their glasses and contacts.
So, whatever your reason may be, once you’ve made up your mind about undergoing laser vision correction, all that’s left to do is find out if you’re eligible.
There are several key ingredients that can make you a viable candidate, some of which may be out of your control, such as the thinness of your corneas. The best way to be sure? Book a pre-operative consultation to find out more.
Many laser eye surgery centres offer free consultations for the purposes of evaluating whether or not laser vision correction is suitable for you. Once you’ve made your appointment, you’ll be in the hands of helpful eye care professionals.
These highly-trained team of professionals will perform diagnostic testing to measure several components, such as your eye condition, the range of your prescription and more. Barring any pre-existing eye and general health conditions, if you have myopia, hyperopia and some degree of astigmatism and are between the ages of 18 of 65 then you may be a suitable candidate for laser vision correction.
Look for an experienced surgeon who will perform your LASIK surgery safely
Obviously, before considering your vision correction procedure, your best bet is to choose a clinic with a great reputation and a team of experienced surgeons who have been working in refractive care for years. All About Vision recommends several items you should consider before choosing surgeon that fits your needs.
- First, be sure to give them a background check: Has your surgeon studied in medicine and ophthalmology? Did they attend a well-recognized medical school for their education? What sort of fellowships have they done?
- Has the surgeon performed a high number of refractive surgeries before? If so, it means that they know the ins and outs of the procedure, which can inspire confidence in patients. Larger laser vision correction centres can accommodate more patients, meaning the surgeons on staff gain more experience by performing more procedures.
- Are they board certified? What other credentials or certification do they have?
You’ll quickly learn that choosing the right professional is an important part of seeing clearly with LASIK. Because when it comes to something as precious as your vision, surgeon experience matters.
LASIK is not only safe, but it’s quick (and painless!)
There are a lot of myths out there about LASIK so let’s clear the air:
- First, if you thought you’d have to wait all day to complete your procedure, guess again: The LASIK surgery itself is actually pretty quick—in most cases, the procedure takes less than 10 minutes to complete (for both eyes).
- If you were worried about pain during the procedure, we are happy to report that most patients say they feel nothing more than a minor sensation throughout, if anything at all. Plus, you’ll be given numbing eye drops prior to your surgery to ensure that the entire experience is as painless as possible.
- Contrary to what you may have heard, there is very little downtime after your LASIK procedure. So if you thought that getting laser vision correction means you’ll be out of commission for a few days, we’ve got news for you: Most patients can resume their day-to-day activities, like going for a walk or returning to work, in just 24 hours.
Now that these pervasive myths have been debunked, there’s even more incentive for you to consider laser vision correction as a viable option to clearer vision.
Are there any side effects to LASIK?
As is the case with any type of surgery, laser vision correction does come with its share of potential risks and complications. But virtually all of those that have the potential to occur are rare and treatable. According to All About Vision, these are some of the common side effects people experience after LASIK—most of which subside in just a short matter of time:
- Some patients say they experience discomfort and light sensitivity in days immediately following the surgery.
- Other complications that tend to arise include visual disturbances like glare, halos and double vision, but these tend to taper off in just three months’ time.
- Some people report experiencing dry eye syndrome; with proper eye drop administration following your procedure, though, dry eye syndrome typically doesn’t last very long.
- While there is a potential for flap complications (such as folds or wrinkles in the flap) these are rare and typically occur in less than 1% of those who undergo LASIK treatment.
Getting LASIK is safer than contact lenses
Maybe you’ve been putting off getting LASIK because you’re happy with the freedom that contact lenses can provide. But did you know that by choosing LASIK, you’re actually opting for a safer option than with contact lenses?
That’s right—what most people don’t know is that there are several risks that can be directly linked to caring poorly for contact lenses. If you’re guilty of any of the following, then you might be putting your eyes at serious risk of infection:
- Improper contact lens storage. It’s important to change your contact lens solution daily; otherwise bacteria can accumulate in the contact lens case, which then winds up on your contact lens and then in your eye.
- Another common mistake contact lens wearers commit is leaving their lenses in their eyes for far too long—this means oxygen is unable to enter the eye, which, according to an article in The Daily Mail, can tamper with corneal sensitivity. This happens when a person wears them to sleep (yes—even if you’re keeping them in for a 15-minute nap).
- Do you leave your contact lenses in when you take a shower or go for a swim? Doing either is especially problematic as it can lend to bacterial build-up on the lenses, thereby increasing the risk of infection. Bacteria have a tendency to flourish in this environment, which makes contracting an infection more likely.
- Ophthalmologists also recommend removing your lenses if they start to cause pain or discomfort. Some people choose to tough it out—maybe they don’t have their lens solution on hand or they didn’t bring their glasses so they won’t be able to see—but by leaving your contact lenses in you are doing harm to your eyes. The best course of action is to remove the contact lenses as soon as possible and then take a break from wearing them for up to 24 hours.
Due to the complications and all the hassles that come with wearing contacts regularly, more and more people are turning to a procedure like laser vision correction, a surgery that’s designed to simplify and give you your best vision ever.
What are your options if you are not eligible for LASIK?
If you’ve learned, during your free consultation, that you aren’t eligible for laser vision correction but were seriously banking on getting rid of your glasses, don’t fret: there are other procedures available today that can easily help you achieve that kind of freedom.
There are several reasons as to why a patient may not be considered a strong candidate for LASIK; for example, patients whose corneas are too thin may not be able to safely undergo the treatment and pregnant women are discouraged from getting the LASIK procedure.
No matter what, if you’re a non-candidate, your eye care professional will be sure to discuss why that is. But it’s good to know you’ve got options, and here are some that might come up if standard laser eye surgery isn’t right for you.
- Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is recommended to patients whose corneas may be too thin, a procedure called has proven to be a safe alternative to standard LASIK. PRK differs in LASIK in that a flap is not created. Instead, the corneal surface is partially removed with a small device that closely resembles a small circular brush. The laser then reshapes the cornea in the same way as with LASIK.
- Refractive lens exchange procedure is an alternative treatment option for patients deemed non-candidates for standard laser eye surgery. This process removes the eye’s natural lens, replacing it with an artificial lens instead. It’s typically performed on patients whose natural lenses have insufficient power to permit a clear vision without visual aids.
- Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking is the procedure offered to patients who have an eye condition called keratoconus, which occurs when a normally round-shaped cornea thins, which then bugles into a cone-like shape. Usually this condition begins to appear in a person’s teens or 20s– however, laser eye surgery usually does not correct it. With the Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking procedure (called CXL) the condition is prevented from worsening as the goal of this treatment is to halt further progression.
- Implantable contact lenses are designed to provide premium visual outcomes, particularly in patients with high myopia. This procedure involves the insertion of a special type of lens behind the iris to help improve blurry vision. Candidates who have been deemed ineligible for LASIK may in fact by suited for this type of treatment.
These are some options available to you that your eye care professional will tell you about; but the best way to find out more is by booking your consultation and discussing what options are the best-suited treatments available for your eyes.
So what’s the next step?
You’ve learned about what makes a person a candidate for LASIK, some of the more common complications, and how much safer it is compared with contact lenses.
But if you still have questions about this life-changing procedure, download a copy of our Free Information Kit; in it, you’ll find even more information about the different types of procedures we offer.
Or, if you think you’re ready to take the leap, book your free, no-obligation consultation today to see if you’re eligible for laser eye surgery. Why wait any longer? It’s time to start living your LASIK life today.