You can hardly turn on the TV or the radio without hearing ads about a new, low-cost eye surgery to rid you of those bothersome glasses or contacts. But how can you be sure you're not playing Russian roulette with your eyes?
WebMD Health professional Bill Lloyd, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist qualified to perform laser refractive surgery. LASIK is one of the most frequently performed operations in America. In order to shed some light on this very popular surgery, Lloyd outlines ten important things to know before undergoing laser refractive surgery.
Sitting in high school biology, listening to the teacher drone on about genetics, I snapped to attention when she used male pattern baldness as an example of a dominant trait. My heart started pounding with fear - with bald men on both sides of my mother's family as far as the eye could see, I was doomed to have a chrome dome.
I remained anguished about the prospect of being bald for the next 20 years as my hairline retreated and my hair steadily thinned. Bald men seemed disfigured to me. I felt...
1. Know Yourself -- Why do you really want to have this surgery? You will live with its results forever, so don't be caught up in a fad. There are no guarantees. Many LASIK patients are still wearing glasses!
2. Know Your Surgeon -- Look for an experienced, board-certified ophthalmologist. Ask direct questions regarding your surgeon's experience and complication rate. Will your surgeon continue to take care of you after the surgery, after surgery, or will you be redirected to a non-physician?
3. Know Your Refractive Error -- The more nearsighted (myopic) you are, the more likely you may need a repeat procedure (euphemistically called "refinements"). Ask your doctor what the chances are that you'll need a refinement.
4. Know if You Are Eligible -- LASIK is not for everyone. People with severe dry eyes, certain corneal diseases, and other select eye conditions should not undergo LASIK.
5. Know What Happens -- Be sure you fully understand the entire procedure. Since you will be awake for the surgery, you don't want any surprises.
6. Know the Odds -- After laser refractive surgery, most patients enjoy improved (not necessarily perfect) vision without their old glasses. Nobody guarantees 20/20, 20/25, or 20/30 vision. If you hear such claims, consider looking elsewhere.
7. Know the Risks -- Laser refractive surgery is surgery. There is no such thing as "minor eye surgery." Complications such as overcorrection, undercorrection, making the pupil off center, damaging the cornea, inflammation, and infection can leave you miserable. You may hear statistics about 2% or 5% complications, but if it happens to you, it's 100%!