Q: My daughter loves to read by a dim light at night. Isn’t it true
that this could damage her eyes?
A: Conventional wisdom claims that reading in the dark wrecks the
eyes. But children everywhere who love to read at night under the covers can
rejoice, because this myth is FALSE.
Dim light might make it difficult for the eyes to focus, which can cause
short-term eye fatigue, says Richard Gans, MD, FACS, an ophthalmologist with
the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute. "But there is...
Maybe you're like most people over 40 -- the aging of your eyes
is beginning to change your life in a way you don't like. It was happening to
me. I'd reached the point where I couldn't see the dirt on the kitchen counter
until I put on my reading glasses, and the numbers on my car speedometer were a
So let me flash back to how I ended up, three days after this
past Christmas, wearing plastic bubbles taped over my eyes at the laser surgery
center of Zale Lipshy Hospital at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical
Center in Dallas (UTSW). It may help you decide if this procedure is for
For several years, the idea of LASIK had lurked in the back of
my mind. But until about a year and a half ago, the procedure was FDA-approved
only for nearsightedness, or myopia. This is when the corneal curve is too
steep, causing distant images to blur. When the operation was approved for
farsightedness (the corneal curve is too shallow, causing close objects to
blur), the possibility of having it done myself moved one step closer.
Then last summer, the FDA approved two laser machines for
correcting farsightedness with astigmatism (where the cornea is irregularly
shaped -- more like a football as opposed to a basketball). I did a story about
it, using as my main source H. Dwight Cavanagh, MD, PhD, vice chairman of UTSW
ophthalmology department. I listened carefully to what he had to say about the
procedure; after all, he had been one of the doctors who had conducted LASIK
clinical trials and also one of the researchers on a study comparing this
method with another type of laser surgery called PRK. I also talked with a man
in his late 60s who'd participated in the clinical trial of LASIK at the
medical center, who gave a glowing review.
This was sounding more and more like a real possibility for me,
but the thought of surgery made me squeamish. The surgeons use a tiny
instrument called a microkeratome to cut a flap of corneal tissue, then use a
laser to remove a hair-thin piece of tissue, effectively changing the shape of
the eye. Cavanagh said the surgery for farsightedness was easier and safer
because the laser didn't focus on the field of vision, as in the
nearsightedness procedure. Rather, it removes a donut-shaped piece of tissue
around the corneal edge.