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LASIK Results Favorable Among Patients

Most Are Happy With Outcome of Eye Surgery, According to Study
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Aug. 24, 2004 -- Considering LASIK eye surgery? Most people who have had the procedure are happy with their results, according to a study in the journal Current Opinion in Ophthalmology.

LASIK is a procedure uses a laser to permanently change the shape of the cornea, the clear covering of the front of the eye.

LASIK is performed more than a million times per year, according to the researchers, who were led by Medical College of Georgia ophthalmologist and corneal specialist Balamurali Ambati, MD.

Reviewing studies done over the last 15 years on patients who underwent the LASIK procedure, Ambati and his colleagues found that 94% of patients had at least 20/20 vision after the procedure and that nearly all patients said they would recommend LASIK to a friend.

But don't toss out your glasses and contacts just yet.

About 25% of people who underwent LASIK had some trouble with night vision within the first few weeks of surgery. After their surgery, halos, glares, and starbursts were typically reported. Younger patients experienced night vision problems more frequently than older LASIK patients.

Most cases cleared up in the first year; the number of people reporting night vision problems fell to 5% a year after LASIK.

Problems seeing contrasts in low light also disappeared with time. "These effects are temporary and generally recover to pre-operative levels within three to six months," write the researchers.

Younger LASIK patients had higher overall satisfaction than older patients. "The literature review showed that ... the happiest patients tend to be age 45 or younger," says Ambati in a news release.

That may because LASIK targets the cornea, but the lens, which provides focusing power to the eye, is the main problem in age-related farsightedness.

"As with other muscles, with age it is thought the muscles that help the lens reshape to change focus from far to near get weaker. Although LASIK can successfully reshape the cornea to help compensate for this loss, the procedure cannot be used to correct both far- and near-sightedness in those over age 40," says Ambati.

The best bet is to approach LASIK with realistic expectations.

Providers should "spend time with the patient explaining the procedure and the possible postoperative problems they may encounter," write the researchers.

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