Can I have laser eye surgery? Is it safe?

Can I have laser eye surgery? Is it safe?

Most people are suitable for candidates for laser eye surgery. Those who are pregnant, have diabetes, keratoconus and some other rare conditions may be prohibited, but for most people the choice is theirs. Those under 18 need to wait, as the legal age for eye surgery for cosmetic reasons is 18. This is because eyes are still changing and developing until adulthood, so laser surgery would not be beneficial.

What is LASIK?
LASIK eye surgery is the common acronym for Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. It refers to the laser eye surgery which is commonly performed by ophthalmologists to correct near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism. Patients choose LASIK to avoid the need for contact lenses or glasses. Lasik is the most commonly practiced form of laser eye surgery as it has a quick healing and recovery time and is generally less painful than other types of corrective eye surgery. Generally the ophthalmologist will choose which type of surgery will be the best for you, depending upon his initial test findings. Lasik involves the surgeon cutting and lifting a thin flap of corneal tissue. The tissue beneath is re-shaped using a laser, and the flap is replaced back over the cornea and left to heal. The procedure is done while the patient is awake and anesthetic eye drops are used to make the procedure painless. After surgery, dark eye shields are worn to minimize brightness for several days, and goggles are worn at night to prevent the eye being rubbed, thereby dislodging the flap. Eyedrops are used several times a day to reduce inflammation and the risk of infection. After surgery, the eyesight will gradually improve over the following weeks, reaching its optimum after 1-3 months. Majority of patients report 20/20 vision at their 2nd day surgery follow up.

Other Types of Laser Eye Surgery

PRK stands for Photorefractive keratectomy. This process is similar to the Lasik procedure, but the laser is used to permanently change the shape of the anterior cornea. The outer layer of the cornea is removed before the reshaping takes place, instead of the flap being lifted and replaced. The outer layer of the cornea will repair itself, but this is a longer healing process than a flap being healed back into place. PRK avoids the possible dislocation of corneal flaps which may occur with Lasik surgery. However it is a more painful procedure and recovery is generally slower.

Reasons against having Laser Eye Surgery
The downside to having laser eye surgery is the cost. The surgery costs several thousand dollars. Laser eye surgery is not permanent. As we age, our eyesight continues to change and even the most successful surgery may need to be redone later in time if the eyesight changes and deteriorates at a normal rate due to aging changes. There are no guarantees that you will not have to wear glasses after LASIK surgery. Especially if you are age 40 and up, you may need reading glasses for near work. Although the procedure is considered safe and effective, there can be some temporary side effects. After surgery, patients' sight is blurry and there may be discomfort. Eyes can feel gritty and this is eased using eye drops. Some patients experience hazy caused by eye secretions but this does resolve itself after a few days to weeks. Night halos are also common after surgery making night driving difficult. But most halos are reduced significantly after the swelling goes away. Rare complications such as a wrinkle in the corneal flap or a raised central island may require further surgery but these side effects are very rare indeed.

Your Decision
If your eye specialist approves you for laser eye surgery, and the cost is not a problem, you may be happy to move ahead and have laser eye surgery. In the worst case scenario, you may have to wear glasses after the surgery for close work, either immediately or a few years down the road. However thousands of people have laser eye surgery every year without any problems and are thrilled with the results.

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