Long-Term Results With LASIK Good
Laser Surgery for Eyesight Safe and Effective, Researchers Report
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 2, 2007 -- New research should reassure the millions of people who have
had laser surgery to correct nearsighted vision over the last two
One of the largest and longest follow-ups ever of patients who had LASIK for vision correction
showed a very low rate of complications and a high rate of long-term
satisfaction with the procedure.
Patients who had LASIK for low, moderate, or severe nearsightedness were
followed for 10 years by researchers from Spain's Miguel Hernandez University
Jorge L. Alio, MD, PhD, and colleagues reported that only 20% of patients
with low to moderate nearsightedness needed retreatment over the 10 year-year
LASIK Safe and Effective
LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) is the most common laser surgery for
correcting nearsightedness, known medically as myopia. Sometimes called
"flap and zap surgery," surgeons performing LASIK first cut a small
flap in the cornea and then reshape tissue exposed by the flap to correct
Complications in the years following the surgery were rare in study
participants, regardless of the degree of vision correction. Most of the
complications that did occur happened in the days or weeks after surgery, and
not years later, researchers found.
The research appears in the January 2008 issue of the American Journal of
"These findings can be considered extraordinarily reassuring," says
Atlanta eye surgeon George O. Waring, MD, who wrote an editorial accompanying
the study. "We can now say with great certainty that this is a safe
procedure long term."
Not Best Choice for Severe Myopia
Roughly 18 million LASIK surgeries have been performed since the early
1990s, but LASIK is no longer considered the best choice for patients who are
severely nearsighted, Waring says.
These days, surgical implantation of a corrective contact lens following
removal of the natural lens is the preferred treatment for the roughly 10% of
myopic patients with very severe nearsightedness.
This is likely to remain the case, Waring says, despite the fact that Alio
and colleagues found LASIK to be both safe and effective over the long term in
most patients in their study who were highly myopic.
"This study has allowed us to demonstrate that, in spite of the
prejudices about the limits of LASIK, the results regarding predictability,
efficacy and safety for highly myopic patients are very good in the long
term," Alio and colleagues write.
But Waring counters that there is no need to revisit LASIK as a treatment
for severe nearsightedness because the lens implantation procedure works so
"Most patients who have lens implant surgery are very happy with the
results," he says.