As surgeons, we see patients everyday looking to free themselves from their glasses and contact lenses by having LASIK surgery. Many of the people we see are tired of the hassles of taking care of their contacts and often feel handicapped by their dependence on glasses or contacts and want the freedom to live without them. The popularity of LASIK has risen with advances in technology and the FDA has stated that LASIK is safe and effective and nearly all patients are satisfied with the procedure. Patients have continually reported life-changing results allowing them freedom from the constraints of their glasses or contact lenses. According to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), 12.4 million LASIK procedures have been performed in the U.S. and about 95 percent of patients are satisfied with the procedure. LASIK has even been approved for use by NASA astronauts and U.S. Military personnel, including Air Force and Navy pilots.
LASIK has come under fire in recent days from patients who say they have suffered debilitating side-effects from the popular surgery. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) held a public hearing April 25, 2008, to discuss the potential post-operative effects of LASIK and whether more screening is needed pre-surgery. LASIK patients and surgeons addressed the FDA. Hoopes Vision surgeons use six different lasers and were one of the first practices in the country to use the combination of the IntraLase blade free LASIK with the Allegretto Eye-Q and Zeiss Mel 80 lasers. The use of these three lasers, unlike traditional LASIK using a hand held mechanical razor blade, is clinically proven to improve safety and deliver more results of 20/20 vision or better. Also, the Eye-Q laser has the broadest range of custom-optimized treatments and provides excellent vision day and night, reducing the risk of experiencing glare and halos.
LASIK surgery isn’t for everyone – according to ASCRS approximately 20-25% of individuals seeking LASIK are not eligible to receive the surgery. The common conditions that can make someone a poor candidate for LASIK are dry eyes, thin or irregular corneas, cataracts and certain medical conditions. For these patients there may be other options besides LASIK to correct their vision; a thorough evaluation by an eye care professional is needed to determine the best option for a patient. There are numerous available options, including Advanced Surface Ablation (PRK) and premium intraocular lens implants (implantable lenses), for those patients who are not candidates for LASIK.
The FDA is now enlisting the help of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery – organizations in which Hoopes Vision surgeons are active – as well as the National Eye Institute to conduct a study to focus on how patients’ quality of life is affected by laser eye surgery. Part of the positive FDA data that was recently heard, were preliminary results of the USAEyes Competence Opinion Relative to Expectations (CORE) study, which showed that more than 99% of patients reported their quality of life after laser vision correction surgery is as they had expected or better than expected, even though 2% reported complications that are frequent or problematic.
“The USAEyes CORE study was designed to determine if patients are getting what they expect from LASIK or similar eye surgery,” says Glen Hagele, Executive Director of the nonprofit patient advocacy that conducted the study. “Relevant questions ask if the patient’s results were ‘as expected’, or degrees of ‘better than’ expected or ‘worse than’ expected. The survey was mailed to 1,800 vision correction surgery patients of six doctors throughout the US, with a 31% response rate.
“It is not surprising that the vast majority of LASIK patients are satisfied with their results, but what was unexpected was that many would have the surgery again despite reporting complications,” reports Hagele. Of those who reported complications that were “seldom problematic”, 91% would have the surgery again. A surprising 22% of patients who reported complications that were “frequently or always” problematic would have the surgery again, according to patients who responded to the survey. “Clearly, some patients find the convenience of a reduced need for glasses and contacts worth occasional problems,” says Hagele.
Additional results of the USAEyes CORE patient survey: 99% report quality of life as expected, better, or much better after vision correction surgery
98% state day vision as expected, better, or much better
98% report no complications or complications that are seldom problematic
98% would recommend surgery to family or friends
97% would have surgery again, knowing what they know now
96% report postoperative vision without lenses as expected, better, or much better than expected when compared to preoperative vision with lenses
96% report overall quality of vision as expected, better, or much better than expected
91% report no complications at any time
91% state night vision as expected, better, or much better than expected
7% report complications seldom problematic, however 91% of these patients would have surgery again
2% report complications frequent or problematic, however 22% of these same patients would have the surgery again
The surgeons at Hoopes Vision are committed to performing the highest quality surgery on behalf of our patients. In order to ensure your likelihood of successful surgery we recommend seeking vision correction surgery from board certified physicians who have undergone strenuous and supervised surgical training. Research your doctor to see if they are fellowship trained (additional 1-2 years of training) or if they certified to perform LASIK during a weekend course. Do your surgeons own their own surgical center where caring for the patient is paramount or do they work for a corporation where the bottom line may cloud decision making? Are the doctors recommended by friends, family members or co-workers where positive results are reported? Have the doctors undergone surgery themselves or do they wear glasses or contacts and are hesitant to have the surgery? LASIK surgery can have a profound improvement in the quality of life of a patient. Because it is a surgical procedure side effects are a possibility. From the study cited above the overwhelming number of patients who are satisfied and would undergo the procedure again speak for its success. Should side effects arise a caring relationship with your surgeon is critical. Not only should the doctor be available to listen to your difficulties he or she should be knowledgeable and experienced in treating these problems.
Surgical expertise, dedication to caring for patients, a commitment to advanced technology, and personal recommendation from others, are among the best means to make sure vision correction surgery can be a positive experience. We look forward to the continued safety and success of LASIK surgery and future improvements as they occur.