LASIK — Is It For You? Background Laser in situ keratomileusis
(LASIK) is a surgical procedure to reduce nearsightedness (myopia),
farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism by reshaping tissue in the
cornea, the clear covering of the front of the eye. It evolved from a
variety of refractive surgery techniques including photorefractive
keratectomy (PRK). In LASIK, an automated device called a microkeratome
is used to create a thin flap in the cornea that is lifted; an excimer
laser is then used to reshape the underlying corneal tissue and the
flap is replaced over the treated area.
The Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) first approved the excimer laser in 1995 for the
PRK correction of nearsightedness and in 1998 for the LASIK correction
of nearsightedness with or without astigmatism.
Is LASIK Safe?
January 2002, the American Academy of Ophthalmology — The Eye M.D.
Association — looked at a number of scientific studies and found that
LASIK is safe and effective for correcting low-to-moderate
nearsightedness and astigmatism. However, the Academy also found the
results of LASIK are less predictable in eyes with moderate-to- high
The Academy found serious complications
resulting in permanent visual loss happen rarely with LASIK, but side
effects such as dry eyes, nighttime starbursts and reduced ability to
see in dim light occur more frequently. Your doctor should talk to you
about the possible risks and side effects of LASIK.
Who Shouldn't Have LASIK?
is an excellent procedure for many, but not all people with refractive
errors. Those who are not good candidates should not have the surgery.
If you have any of the following conditions, you may not be a good
candidate for LASIK:
Uncontrolled or advanced glaucoma Pregnant or breastfeeding Diabetes Some autoimmune disorders (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, HIV/AIDS) Use of Prednisone pills or drops Dry eyes Irritation of the eyelids with itching and scaly skin Pupil size over seven millimeters Warped* or thin corneas Genetic or metabolic problems affecting the cornea *
If you wear contact lenses, especially rigid lenses, before performing
LASIK your doctor will examine you using a series of measurements to
see if your corneas are warped. Your Eye M.D. may ask you to remove
your rigid contact lenses for several weeks or months, and soft contact
lenses for several days or weeks prior to examination to allow your
cornea to return to its normal shape. Is LASIK Better Than PRK?
LASIK has become more popular than PRK for a number of reasons, including:
Vision stabilizes sooner after surgery Less discomfort after surgery Faster improvement in vision Less corneal haze For people who need higher levels of correction, vision is more predictable and stable, and the corneas are clearer Shorter time on medication after surgery Enhancement procedure, if needed, is easier However,
LASIK may not be the best procedure for you. Other procedures such as
PRK may be better suited for you. Your doctor will work with you to
determine which, if any, procedure is best for you. Will LASIK Give Me 20/20 Vision?
might, but even after LASIK, you may not be able to "throw away your
glasses and contacts." Studies have shown that the majority of people —
but not all — who have LASIK will come away with 20/40 vision or better
without the need of glasses or contact lenses. Some people choose to
have a second surgery, referred to as an enhancement, to further refine
their vision and reduce their dependence on glasses or contact lenses.
However, most people who have had LASIK will need reading glasses as
they get into their 40s and 50s.
What Should I Do If I'm Considering LASIK?
to an Eye M.D. to determine if you are a good candidate for the
procedure. If you have any of the conditions mentioned earlier, you may
If your Eye M.D. determines that you are a good candidate, before setting a date for surgery, find out:
The possible risks and complications The experience of your surgeon The outcomes of the procedures performed by your surgeon The percent of patients returning for secondary procedures (enhancements) Whether your surgeon is using a laser approved by the FDA What is involved in after-surgery care Who will handle and be responsible for after-surgery care Where Can I Get More Information? Your Eye M.D. (ophthalmologist) is the best source of information on LASIK, as well as eye health and safety.
Refractive Errors Lasik Risks Selecting a Refractive Surgeon Refractive Errors Other sources of information on LASIK include: National Eye Institute at 301.496.5248 or www.nei.nih.gov Food and Drug Administration at 301.827.4420 or www.fda.gov Federal Trade Commission at 1.877.382.4357 or www.ftc.gov Approved by: The Eye Health and Public Information Task Force September 2002 Revised November 2003