T Nation

Is Laser Eye Surgery Safe?


#1

I’m myopic since I was 6 (now I’m 27). Glasses are no more a object but almost part of me. I would like to finally put an end to this slavery with laser eye surgery. It’s safe? I’m so scared from all I’ve read on the web… Anyone here has experiences that can help me to make a decision?


#2

My wife and I both had it, no issues. The horror stories you read online can carry lots of emotional weight, but the data shows it is a very safe procedure.

Nothing is 100% safe though, you are going to have to weigh the risk/benefit and see if it makes sense for you.

This site seems to suggest that no one has ever gone blind from it


#3

Thanks for your feedback, mate! I’m a very emotional and timorous guy, especially about health (I’m a specialised nurse…). I just booked a preliminary visit with the best ophtalmologist I could find (15 december, so a lot of time to wait) and I think I’ll stop reading horror stories on the web. My desire of freedom from glasses is bigger than my fear, at least for now.


#4

We have our very own @EyeDentist here who can probably provide you with good insight.


#5

As indicated by @Benanything, ophthalmologist here. The short answer is, it’s a very, very safe procedure. My son has had it; my daughter will have it next year (when she turns 21). Consider: The lifetime risk of vision loss from contact lens wear is significantly higher than the risk of vision loss from LASIK-type surgery. And while complications can occur which, in rare cases, leave the individual with worse vision than before, I am aware of no one who has gone literally blind (as in, unable to even see light) from it.

But as @Lonnie123 pointed out, there are no guarantees in this world (other than Death and Taxes). How can you reduce your risk? The key is physician selection. Make sure your ophthalmologist is a physician with high medical-ethical standards. Avoid someone who is the ‘hard sell’ sort, and/or tries to convince you with talk of ‘super low prices,’ or who seems to be running a surgical ‘mill’ where pts are churned hurriedly through the system. In short, ask yourself this: Does this guy (or gal) seem more concerned with me and my eye health, or more concerned with doing as much surgery as possible? Embrace the first type; run away from the second.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask.


#7

Thanks a lot for your reply. I really appreciate your words, now I’m much more determined than ever to make this decision. The clinic where I’ll have my surgery has the latests FEMTOLASIK devices and a well known ophtalmologist/surgeon. My myopia isn’t so severe (DX 1,75 SX 2,00) but it’s enough to make me slave of glasses.
I know some people who had LASIK eye surgery and no one of them had any sort of issue. All my fears come from the internet corneal hazes (PRK) and “I can’t see any light source during the night” (LASIK-FEMTOLASIK) horror stories. But… from now, simply I’ll stop reading them.


#8

Do one eye at a time.

The one thing they don’t tell you is there is a sick smell of BBQ during the procedure. There I was, doped up on Valium (or whatever it was) and I smelled BBQ. Then I realized it was my eye burning.

Also inadvisable to drive home across Manhattan after I had the procedure, which I did for some unknown stupid reason.


#9

@Jewbacca Yes, doing one eye at a time is what I want to do. It will cost me a little much (the clinic is very far from where I live) due to journey (hotel, gas, food…), but I don’t care. Thanks for your hint.


#10

When they say look at the red dot and focus on it. Look at the red dot and focus on it. Other than that, just try to relax. I started to freak out cause I was trying to just chill, and in my head I’m going, “It’s cool, they’re just shooting a laser into the retina of your eye and oh wtf…” as I smell my cells burning. But at that point, all you can do is look at the red light.

Oh, and the 2nd/3rd day when your eyes start healing, you’ll lowkey wish you had never done it.


#11

Thanks for your feedback. I think that a little sufference is nothing compared to the joy of seeing without glasses.


#12

I had to reach for my glasses to see the alarm clock, and had chronic issues with contact lenses until I had to give them up.

Best money I’ve ever spent on myself. I didn’t realize how much I was missing in my periphery while wearing glasses. No regrets.


#13

I’m in your same situation. I can’t handle it anymore, I wanna be free. Thanks for your feedback.


#14

Thanks to all the T-Family for the support. I’ll update this thread step by step of my journey to better sight.


#15

Question for people who have had it or performed the surgery on others (I don’t recall @EyeDentist if you are one who actually does the surgery on people). Is it something that after 10+ years your eyes worsen back to needing contacts or glasses again? Fairly large expense obviously and I’m very interested but would rather not just have to go back to contacts in 10 years. Though I’ve heard you can’t wear contacts after this procedure, and I dislike glasses so that’s a hesitation I have.


#16

What you’re describing is called regression. The LASIK procedure for myopia (nearsightedness) is virtually regression-free. In contrast, the now-obsolete radial keratotomy procedure (the one that involved making multiple cuts in the cornea) was notorious for significant regression.

That said, there are several reasons someone might need glasses/CLs 10 years after LASIK. The most common is presbyopia–the inevitable loss of near vision that hits most people in their mid-40s. In this scenario, the LASIK pt would need reading glasses at near, but would still see 20/20 at distance. In a somewhat older LASIK pt, the development of cataracts could cloud their vision and/or change the refractive status of their eyes (ie, make them nearsighted or farsighted).


#17

Just to add to the above, basically LASIK is correcting the shape of your eye lens, but as you age you still suffer from the natural loss of the ability of the lens to focus. So whenever your vision was going to get worse, LASIK will not change that (this generally affects reading and close-vision as EyeDentist said)


#18

No issues with mine, make sure you have taken the time to find a great doctor!


#19

Thanks for your feedback! I think I’ve found one who is very good, with a great curriculum vitae and hundreds of eye surgical operations done.


#20

@EyeDentist

I’m 45 and have been wearing corrective lenses since I was 13. Currently my lenses are -5.25 in each eye and I have astigmatism. At what point would you suggest lens replacement rather than Lasik?

I have a couple close friends who have had negative Lasik experiences (nighttime halos and permanent dryness) so I haven’t pulled the trigger over the last 15 years or so.


#21

Before I answer: Are you already presbyopic? That is, are your spectacles bifocals, and/or do you need readers at near while wearing contacts?

Re dry eyes after LASIK: The cutting of the LASIK flap severs a significant number of corneal nerves, which denervates the cornea. This dennervation interrupts the normal reflex arc that accounts for the lion’s share of tear production. Because of this, essentially everyone has dry-eye symptoms for weeks to (usually) a few months after LASIK. Once the corneal nerves regenerate, the symptoms lessen and eventually disappear. Most people can get through this period using artificial tears to compensate. However, if a pt had significant dry eyes prior to LASIK, their post-surgery symptoms will be worse, and will last longer–sometimes forever. (For this reason, many surgeons consider significant dry eyes a relative contraindication for LASIK.)

Re halos, starbursts, and other optical aberrations: These tend to become problematic when the pt needs a fairly high correction (at -5.25D, you are on the border between low and moderate myopia; high myopia is =>-12D), or if s/he has really large pupils. The reasons why are a bit inside baseball, but suffice to say the problem stems from light passing through the interface between treated and untreated cornea reaching the retina. Recent advances in corneal contouring have significantly reduced the occurrence and severity of halos. (Perchance, did your friends have it done a while ago?)