LASIK Myths Debunked
What’s the Real Truth?
“Oh, you should really think twice before getting LASIK. I’ve heard it’s dangerous.” Is this something Aunt Sue told you at Thanksgiving, or is it something your cousin John read on Facebook?
I think you see the point. There are horror stories floating around on the internet that have slanted the truth about LASIK and just how safe it really is. Are these stories rooted in any truth, or does it just “seem unsafe” because a laser is used on your eye?
The truth is, many people fear what they don’t understand, and most of the general population who talk about how LASIK is a procedure that only risk takers will undergo don’t understand how LASIK works, and how it compares with other options.
? Is LASIK More Risky Than Contact Lenses?
It’s a common belief that contact lenses and glasses are the risk-free, safe option when it comes to vision correction, but that isn’t exactly the case. In fact, according to this article by the CDC:
• 1 in 500 contact lens wearers can develop a serious eye infection that could lead to blindness.
• Between 40-90% of contact lens wearers do not follow care instructions properly.
• Keratitis—a painful eye infection often linked to improper contact lens use—leads to 1 million doctor and hospital visits annually, at a cost of $175 million to the US healthcare system.
As you can see from the statistics above, while contact lenses that are properly cared for are a relatively safe option, they are far from risk free. In fact, in my 35 years of experience in the field of ophthalmology, I’ve actually seen one patient completely lose their eyesight because they didn’t want to wear glasses.
? Is LASIK More Risky Than Glasses?
Glasses are a safe option, until you lose them. This is a real story that I once heard from a patient of mine:
“I was playing in the surf one day with my young child. We were standing out there and a wave came along and hit me and knocked my glasses off. I was very highly nearsighted and I reached down to grab them and I let go of my child’s hands. And next thing you know, I couldn’t see my kid. I couldn’t hear my kid. He didn’t answer me. And so I felt horrible that I was unable to protect my child because I couldn’t see. I felt, in fact, debilitated, and so here I am getting LASIK. And now that I’ve had LASIK, I feel much better. I’m able to function well and I’m able to protect my child. So thank you very much.”
So as you can see, in some situations, losing or breaking your glasses can be a serious, even life-threatening liability.
? What About Side Effects?
It’s a common misnomer that LASIK can lead to side effects. While it’s true that LASIK patients may experience dry eye following their procedure, these experiences are temporary and generally subside in a few days or weeks.
With modern lasers, clinical trials have concluded that patients who undergo LASIK see less halos, glare, and other forms of visual disturbances after LASIK than beforehand. So if you’re worried about side effects due to LASIK, they are only temporary and are not a major concern with recent advancements in LASIK technology.