What is Lasik?
Lasik (or laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) is a procedure that permanently changes the shape of the cornea, the clear covering of the front of the eye, using an excimer laser. Lasik is used to treat nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), the blurriness of astigmatism, and loss of reading vision (presbyopia).
Laser beam reshapes the cornea during Lasik surgery:
Food and Drug Administration approved Lasik procedures in 1998 and stated that individual medical doctor can perform the surgery under the provisions of ‘general practice of medicine’.
Claims about Lasik Side Effects – Where Does It Come From?
There have been many facts revealed in recent years that show that Lasik has many permanent side effects, such as halos, dry and scratchy eyes and in only 40% (!) offers temporary reduction of dependence on glasses or contacts.
In 2009 Consumer Reports survey (www.consumerreports.org) found shocking proportion of disappointed Lasik patients:
- 60% of patients found that they still need to wear glasses or contact lenses.
- 53% reported at least one side effect after surgery.
- 22 % experienced side effects 6 or more months after surgery.
- 24 % of those patients who were ‘’not highly satisfied’’ with results said that they regret that before surgery they did not learn more from those who had done surgery before them.
What are Common Lasik Surgery Side Effects:
Dry Eye corneal nerves that are responsible for tear production are severed when the flap is cut. Medical studies have shown that these nerves never return to normal densities and patterns. Dry Eye that is worse than it was before the surgery is experienced by 21 % of patients six months after Lasik surgery.
Night Vision Symptoms such as difficulty seeing detail in dim light (loss of contrast sensitivity) Halo Effect and Starbursts.
Typical example of Halo effect is that patient sees glow or halo around lights and it makes night driving very difficult, if not possible at all. As pupil enlarges, a second faded image is produced by the untreated peripheral cornea, creating Halo Effect. 17.5 % of patients reported halos, 19.7 % reported starbursts and 19.3 % night driving problems that got worse 6 months or more after Lasik.
Undercorrection/Overcorrection. Because of the different reaction to laser and in cases of more serious nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, there is 12-15 % chance that you might not obtain desired result in the first attempt. Repeated surgery might be necessary.
Regression. Effects of the surgery might gradually wear off over the period of months or years. In this case it is possible that condition of the eyes return to the same condition as before Lasik. In this case patient will require secondary Lasik surgery.
Distorted Flap. There is a possibility that corneal flap might not heal or attach properly after Lasik. This can lead to distorted corneal shape, resulting in a decrease of best-corrected vision.
What to Know More About Lasik Side Effects
LASIK surgery permanently weakens the cornea and may cause severe medical problems years later, leading to vision loss. Collagen bands of the cornea provide its form and strength. LASIK breaks and thins those collagen bands. It is estimated that mechanical strength of post-LASIK cornea has only 2% strength of normal cornea.
The thinner, weaker post-LASIK cornea is more prone to forward bulging due to normal pressure inside the eye, which may progress to a condition known as keratectasia and further to corneal failure, requiring corneal transplant. There is 0.66 % chance of losing vision due to this complication after Lasik.
Serious complications of LASIK may emerge weeks, months or even years later due to increased penetration of microorganisms in Lasik flap. This increases risks of serious corneal infections. Medical literature contains numerous reports of serious Lasik side effects and complications that lead to loss of cornea due to mechanical instability and inflammation resulting in corneal haze. Also, flap dislocation, epithelial in-grow and retinal detachment are reported sight-threatening complications after Lasik.
What about 95% Lasik satisfaction rate claimed by Lasik physicians?
Often referred Lasik satisfaction rate of 95% is in fact taken from infamous Dr. Kerry Solomon report, published in 2009.
‘’95.4% global LASIK satisfaction rate” claims Dr. Solomon and his team in “LASIK world literature review”( *). This satisfaction rate is a major referral by groups and associations of Lasik proponents, such as American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS).
Where does this high satisfaction rate come from?
This claim is based on investigating patient data from previously reported studies for years 1988 to 2008 from 19 articles representing 2199 patients.
There are several flaws in Dr. Solomon’s report:
- By this time 16 million people had undergone Lasik surgery worldwide, it means that representation of 2199 people in report is too small for reliable data.
- What is more, 84% or 16 out of 19 articles that give base of the satisfaction rate claim used questionnaires that were not validated.
- And even more, Dr Solomon states:”Although this database [of 19 articles] also includes information on visual outcomes, night vision symptoms, and dry eyes, for the purpose of this paper, the analysis of the database focuses specifically on patient satisfaction and quality of life.” In other words, authors admit that report does not address patient’s complication rate, but instead focuses on patient satisfaction rate. Satisfaction rate is measured by invalidated surveys or questionnaires by Lasik doctors and is neither scientific nor a reliable indicator of LASIK safety or efficacy. LASIK surgeons report high patient satisfaction even in cases with poor night vision and sight-threatening complications.
How did it happen that Lasik surgery was approved by FDA or Federal Drug Administration?
Simply – Lasik surgery is considered a cosmetic procedure and has never been subject to pre- and post-marketing scrutiny that is put for other lifesaving drugs.
Dr. Morris Waxler, Ph.D. a former FDA researcher in charge of Lasik in 2010 has filled FDA petition against Lasik. In his claims he writes that
‘’.. FDA did not ensure that manufacturers [of Lasik equipment] have adequate design controls, fault tree analyses, and correction and prevention procedures, including, but not limited to, adverse event definitions’’.
After inspection of 50 Lasik facilities in 2009, FDA found that in many of them there was no adequate reporting on Lasik complications. FDA spokesman Mary Long in 2010 admitted:
‘We noted that there was little consistent evaluation of the [Lasik] issues’’.
Under pressure of overflowing Lasik patient claims and increasing evidence of Lasik surgery side effects, FDA decided to re-start investigation on post- Lasik condition of the patients.
Before deciding whether Lasik is for you, do your own research. Read more facts before making serious decision involving your only eyesight. You might read more on Lasik surgery side effects and current state of FDA re-investigation of Lasik risk at Life After Lasik site.
Let’s make it clear about Lasik:
1. LASIK does not eliminate the need for glasses
Only 43% of LASIK patients may have temporary freedom from wearing glasses or contact lenses. Lasik patients will likely end up back in glasses –sometimes sooner rather than later. If you get Lasik, you still might need reading glasses after 40-45.
2. The true rate of LASIK complications is unknown, although in FDA-required clinical trials including newer technologies, it is estimated that lasik side effects account for around 20% patients in six months after Lasik
FDA allowed laser manufacturers to hide complications reported by Lasik patients in clinical trials by classifying dry eyes and night vision impairment as “symptoms” instead of complications.
3. Poor eyesight resulting from complications of Lasik surgery cannot be remedied with glasses or contact lenses because cornea of the eye is permanently distorted with laser.
What are Safe Alternatives to Lasik?
Lasik is very attractive idea of being a quick-fix solution to blurred vision. However, Lasik surgery side effects and risks far outweigh the benefits you might get. With 20 % complication rate, Lasik gives only 1 to 5 chance of permanent vision improvement.
There are much safer alternatives to risky Lasik.
Vision Without Glasses is effective and safe program that has been backed by scientific research of Dr. Bates for more than 50 years and which is becoming more recognized by leading optometrists around the world. The core principle behind Vision Without Glasses is that most of the vision problems (nearsightedness, farsightedness, aging vision and so on) are caused by eye strain.
Once we re-learn our vision habits, we are able to reduce strain to eyes and improve eye vision dramatically. It does not matter how old the person is, the principle work for everyone. The program treats the root cause of blurred eyesight, not symptoms of it.
Learn more how you can dramatically improve eye vision without surgery and without wearing glasses by following relaxing, strengthening and nourishing program to their eyes.References: 1. Bailey MD, Zadnik K. Outcomes of LASIK for myopia with FDA-approved lasers. Cornea. 2007 Apr;26(3):246-54. 2. Schmack I, Dawson DG, McCarey BE, Waring GO 3rd, Grossniklaus HE, Edelhauser HF. Cohesive tensile strength of human LASIK wounds with histologic, ultrastructural, and clinical correlations. J Refract Surg. 2005 Sep-Oct;21(5):433-45. 3. Jaycock PD, Lobo L, Ibrahim J, Tyrer J, Marshall J. Interferometric technique to measure biomechanical changes in the cornea induced by refractive surgery. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2005 Jan;31(1):175-84. 4. Cheng AC, Fan D, Tang E, Lam DS. Effect of Corneal Curvature and Corneal Thickness on the Assessment of Intraocular Pressure Using Noncontact Tonometry in Patients After Myopic LASIK Surgery. Cornea. 2006 Jan;25(1):26-28. 5. Erie JC, Patel SV, McLaren JW, Hodge DO, Bourne WM. Corneal keratocyte deficits after photorefractive keratectomy and laser in situ keratomileusis. Am J Ophthalmol. 2006 May;141(5):799-809. 6. Leaming DV. Practice styles and preferences of ASCRS members–2003 survey. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2004 Apr;30(4):892-900. 7. MEDLINE database of citations and abstracts of biomedical research articles. PubMed. 8. Vieira AC, Pereira T, de Freitas D. Late-onset infections after LASIK. J Refract Surg. 2008 Apr;24(4):411-3. 9. Zalentein WN, Tervo TM, Holopainen JM. Seven-year follow-up of LASIK for myopia. J Refract Surg. 2009 Mar;25(3):312-8.