Many Americans with failing eyesight will opt for Lasik corrective eye surgery every year. In the U.S., seven hundred thousand patients have this procedure done each year to correct their eye sight and do away with glasses or contact lenses. They are eager to make this change in their lives in spite of the cost. While it is expensive, Lasik laser surgery is still a new treatment in relative terms, and questions about Lasik long term effects continue to arise as patient numbers go up.
History of Lasik Eye Surgery
The FDA gave Lasik the go-ahead in 1998. This means there has been little time to determine long term disadvantages: less than two decades. Fifteen years is not enough time to create a thorough study. When it comes to the second, third, or fourth decade following treatment, there is no way to know if anything negative could yet occur to Lasik patients.
Success Stories of Lasik
One claim indicates that over 90% of surgeries are a success. This comes from eye doctors themselves. As technology advances, the percentage could increase so that the number of people requiring reading glasses following Lasik surgery will drop. Fewer people will need maintenance surgery in later years.
Patients should exhibit caution.
Certain doctors, though, even some performing Lasik surgery, promote a cautious approach. Note that the 5% of 700,000 patients who do not experience total success amount to 35,000 people. There are risks according to Dr. Richard Abbot of California. He reminds clients that there are no guarantees for the distant future, or even scientifically proven data to line up risks by percentages.
Some Known Risks
Short-term problems have already surfaced. All invasive procedures come with risks. With laser surgical procedure, the initial layer of the cornea is removed, allowing the bottom layers to evaporate under a laser. Infection is always possible in an invasive situation like this.
Injury to the eye also occurs, though rarely. Statistics show this only happens in less than 1% of cases. Many people say their night vision has deteriorated following laser surgery. Lasik patients often complain of blurry vision at night, even traces of light remaining in their vision. This happened to more than half of one physician’s patients.
William Jory was the surgeon and he is concerned that more and more people are having the surgery done while more research is still needed. They proceed before becoming properly informed or allowing the medical community to watch and study early results more closely over time. Later, patients will want to blame their doctors when there are unforeseen problems.
He continues to practice as an eye doctor but no longer offers Lasik surgery. Jory even advises patients against having it done. The FDA has also listed warnings about limited night driving following Lasik surgery.
The Future of Lasik Surgery
Numbers of Lasik clients continue to rise with the hope that they can throw their glasses away, perhaps forever. At the same time, doctors insist that patients should be more aware of the risks. They should weigh the pros and cons carefully before making the financial investment and before putting their eyesight in danger of sustaining permanent damage. There are simply too many unknown possibilities to be discovered, possibilities which could lead to problems a pair of glasses will not fix and which follow-up surgery cannot correct.
Adam enjoys writing about health and technology topics. We works with Liberty Laser Eye, Washington DC.