Is LASIK Eye Surgery Safe? Look before You Leap!

LASIK Eye SurgeryLASIK is an acronym that stands for “Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis.” In layman’s terms, LASIK surgery is a process that painlessly turns less than 20/20 vision to nearly perfect and allows for the discarding of or at least minimal use of corrective lenses.

LASIK surgery was approved by the FDA in 1995, and by 2008, 12 million patients had undergone the procedure in the United States. The procedure costs $1,500 to $2,100 per eye, and over 700,000 people have the surgery every year.

According to Eye Surgery Compare, statistics from the UK’s top five laser eye surgery providers indicate that “99.5% of patients with minor to moderate visual impairments will achieve eyesight of a legally acceptable standard for driving in the UK without the need for spectacles or contact lenses.” Of those individuals all but 3% will have perfect eyesight as a result of the surgery.

But, because surgery is surgery, LASIK surgery can never be certified as completely free of risk.

However, Eye Surgery Compare also states that because of technological advances in diagnostic equipment and optical lasers, laser eye surgery has been “determined as one of the safest elective surgical procedures currently available.”

While much of the research available totes the safety and freeing benefits of LASIK surgery, it’s worth noting that the scientist involved in the original FDA approval now holds regrets about his decision to approve the surgery. In 2010, the scientist (Dr. Morris Waxler) told Good Morning America that the FDA did the best they could with the information available in 1998 but that he now realizes it wasn’t good enough.

Waxler, who is now a regulatory consultant but still involved with FDA product approvals, is saying that reports of long-term negative effects of LASIK surgery are NOT being REPORTED and that half of patients experience side effects. He is also petitioning for a recall of LASIK equipment. While Waxler’s claims have not been commented on yet by the FDA, they have said they are reviewing the information.

Within this controversy, the final decision for or against the immediate and long-term safety of LASIK surgery should come only after thorough research by the patient. At the very least, patients need to educate themselves extensively within the following three areas:

  1. The surgeon. Realize that less expensive may not be best. Check out credentials & experience. Ask for referrals and references. According to Eye Doctor, finding a qualified and experienced surgeon will help reduce the risk of side effects.
  2. The side effects. Much of the current data, which should be noted comes from the surgeons themselves, indicates that about 5% of people experience mild side effects. Those common side effects include problems with the eye flap, which is manipulated during the surgery, distorted vision such as nighttime halos, inflammation or scarring of the cornea, dry eye and infection. But also remember that based on Waxler’s claims, more serious long-term side effects are possibly not being reported.
  3. The screening process. Find a surgeon who has a thorough screening process. Realize that individuals with severe vision problems are more likely to experience side effects and that, according to Eye Doctor, proper screening of patience generally reduces those who do experience them.

Fully know and understand that there are conditions that make a person not a good candidate for the surgery. While proper screening should consider all of these, patient awareness can go a long way in making this screening process work the way that it should. It can also significantly help avoid situations where proper screening processes are not in place. In “When is LASIK not for me?”, the FDA provides a good list of situations where LASIK surgery may not be a good option.

While Waxler’s claims have yet to be verified, they do create a level of warning that those interested in LASIK surgery should heed. The bottom line is that before making a decision on whether or not LASIK surgery is right for you, do your research. As you research, chose the most experience and qualified surgeon you can find to answer your questions.

And, be sure to get all your questions answered. Refuse to make a decision, especially one opting for the surgery, without having every question answered to your satisfaction. Finally, realize that LASIK surgery simply is not for everyone. In the words of Consumers Report, when it comes to LASIK eye surgery, “Look before you leap.”

Looking At Causes & Solutions For Dry Eyes

Solutions For Dry EyesDo you suffer from dry eye?

Do your eyes often burn for no apparent reason? Is your vision sometimes foggy even though your prescription is current? Do your eyes itch despite the fact that you don’t have allergies? All of these symptoms indicate a potential dry eye problem. Other symptoms include feeling like something is in your eye, excess watering and blurred vision.

Dry eye is caused by not enough tear production or from poor quality of tears produced, both resulting in insufficient moisture to lubricate and nourish eyes.

What causes dry eye?

There are a variety of causes of dry eye. For starters, dry eye can simply come with age. In addition, more women than men suffer from dry eyes due to changing hormones. Some medications as well as many medical conditions can also cause dry eyes.

Long-term contact wearers as well as those who have had LASIK surgery also tend to have more problems with dry eyes. Finally, a person’s environment could be the source of dry eye problems.

What can be done about dry eye?

Fortunately, there are many solutions available for dry eye sufferers. The following are commonly the most helpful.

  1. Eye drops add artificial tears that lubricate the eye. Drops are available over the counter and provide an easy solution for mild cases of dry eyes. Prescription drops are also available from a doctor.
  2. Supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to bring relief for dry eyes. Because other nutritional deficiencies, such as low vitamin A, can also contribute to dry eye, evaluating your diet may be useful.
  3. Safety Glasses can help when a person’s environment is the culprit. Dry, dusty and smoky environments – such as in mines, machine shops and constructions sites – often cause dry eyes, and safety glasses can help protect eyes in these environments.
  4. Sunglasses can help reduce dry eye problems caused by squinting in sunlight as well as by wind and other outdoor elements. Wrap-around styles especially help combat these environmental causes of dry eye.
  5. Hydration not only benefits our body as a whole, but it can also help reduce dry eye by giving the body adequate supplies for tear production. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, which experts say means 8-10 glasses of water daily.
  6. Humidify your environment to lessen its impact on drying your eyes. Small, inexpensive units are available to be able to make your home and work environment more eye friendly.
  7. Blinking not only gives eyes a break from staring a computer screen or other object for long periods of time, but it also promotes tear production. Many optometrist recommend applying the 20-20-20 rule to help not only reduce dry eye symptoms but also to help with visual focusing problems that often result from tired eyes.
  8. Ergonomics not only impact an individual’s musculoskeletal health but can also contribute to dry eyes. A 2005 New York Times article reported that when people squint to reduce glare or bring text into focus, they blink less thus reducing tear production which leads to dry eye problems. Making sure your work station is set up properly can prevent squinting and as a result aid in preventing dry eye as well.
  9. Adequate ventilation can provide yet another way to combat dry eyes. This is especially applicable in a setting with dry air or with particles in the air (such as dust or printer toner), which can make tears unable to adequately coat eyes. Adjusting ventilation and installing a simple air filter that services the room you work in can help in reducing these types of problems.
  10. Treat inflammation around the surface of the eyes. Prescription eye drops, ointments, warm compresses, lid massages and eyelid cleaners can reduce inflammation around the eye that may be contributing to dry eye problems.

Note that sometimes the best solution is a combination of the above suggestions, so be willing to try each of the above to find a combination that works for you. If the above fail to provide adequate relief, additional and more invasive solutions including surgery and plugging eye ducts are additional options when these other options fail to work and must be done by a physician.

What’s the first step?

First and foremost, anyone suffering from chronic dry eye should see an optometrist for a thorough evaluation. Your eye doctor can determine if a serious health problem is the cause and can also give experienced advice in helping find a solution. Seeing your family doctor for any possible health problems and possibly medication adjustments is also a good idea.