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Studies Shed Light on LASIK Risk


Patients in their mid-40s were not as happy with their postsurgical vision as those in their early 40s. Patients with flatter corneas prior to surgery were also more likely to see starbursts surrounding lights afterward. And patients who had to undergo the procedure a second time were generally unhappier with their outcomes than those who had the surgery only once.

"It is really important for patients to know if they are good candidates for LASIK before having the procedure," study author Melissa Bailey tells WebMD. "That is why it is important to find a doctor that you trust who explains all of the risks and benefits."

Ron Link agrees. A former firefighter, Link now runs an Internet-based support group for people who have had negative experiences with vision correction surgeries. He says most people are told in very general terms about the potential postsurgical problems, but few are warned about their specific level of risk.

"People may sign an informed consent without being told that with their particular preoperative condition their individual risk is extremely high," he says.

California ophthalmologist Richard L. Abbott, MD, says better screening and technological advances are already helping to reduce the incidence of surgical complications associated with LASIK. Over the next few years, such advances may make the procedure an option for more people. Abbott is co-director of the corneal and refractive surgery department at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center.

"For the vast majority of patients, the technology we have now does a superb job," he tells WebMD. "But clinical trials going on now offer the promise of helping those people who are considered poor candidates for LASIK surgery."

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