Keeping an Eye on Side Effects of Laser Eye Surgery
WebMD News Archive
"With LASIK, the surface of the cornea is essentially untouched because
you make a little flap in the very upper layer of the cornea, then you do the
lasering and reshaping of the cornea underneath the flap," he says.
"The flap folds back and conforms to that new shape, so you don't have that
scratch that has to heal on the surface of the cornea." Gordon, who is in
private practice at the Vision Surgery and Laser Center in San Diego, was one
of the surgeons involved in the study.
The results of the study show that PRK patients experience an increase in
halo and double vision, but not glare, after surgery. Patients who underwent
LASIK experienced an increase in double vision, but not glare or halo.
LASIK-treated patients also tended to report fewer symptoms after the procedure
than those treated with PRK.
"LASIK is the most popular refractive [or vision correction] procedure
worldwide right now," Marc Michelson, MD, tells WebMD. "Most refractive
surgeons are doing LASIK; a lot of people are no longer doing PRK because of
the fast LASIK recovery." Michelson, an assistant clinical professor of
ophthalmology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and the director of
the Michelson Laser Vision, also was involved in the study.
"We occasionally do PRK in circumstances where we can't do LASIK. There
is nothing wrong with PRK; it is a good procedure -- in fact, the cornea is not
cut with PRK, [but] patients have to go through a bit more aggravation to get
good results," Michelson says.
Michelson says that because the LASIK procedure has become very popular
lately, patients need to be careful when choosing a surgeon. "It is
critical that patients seek out someone with experience and a long history of
good outcomes," he says. "A lot of doctors are learning the procedure
-- that's not to say that someone learning the procedure doesn't have the
capability of doing good -- but it's 'Buyer Beware!'" An experienced
surgeon can oftentimes fix the side effects as
well, he says.
"It is somewhat reassuring, in that the
study shows that we are going in the right direction by doing LASIK rather than
PRK," says Steinert, who's also an assistant clinical
professor at Harvard Medical School and a member of Ophthalmic Consults of
Boston. He adds it's a good reminder that some patients do experience these
side effects. "Although the vast majority of patients consider these side
effects to be tolerable, they may experience them, and it is not something that
can be predicted or avoided regardless of the skill of the