Are you tired of wearing glasses or contacts? LASIK may be the answer.
Laser eye surgery has been around for several years now with tremendous success. However, not every vision impaired person should get it, so you may be asking yourself, “Is LASIK worth it?”
Understanding the process, benefits, and risks can help you determine whether or not it may be right for you. Being informed is the first step to making the right decision for you.
What Is LASIK?
LASIK is an acronym for “laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis.” It is a type of refractive eye surgery that corrects poor vision and reduces the need for corrective lenses. It works for farsightedness (hyperopia), nearsightedness (myopia), and astigmatism.
While our guide will specifically focus on LASIK surgery, note that some people incorrectly use the term to describe all laser eye surgeries.
How Does LASIK Work?
Glasses and contacts work by assisting the cornea with refracting incoming light so that it focuses properly on the retina. LASIK, however, works by directly altering the shape of the cornea, thereby eliminating the need for corrective lenses.
Who Is Eligible for LASIK?
When determining if LASIK is worth it for you, your eligibility for the surgery will come into play. Speaking to your eye doctor will be the fastest and most reliable way to determine this. Not everyone is a good candidate for laser eye surgery, as all eyes are different.
For the best results, patients must have healthy eyes with normal levels of impaired vision—a prescription between -3.00 and -7.00, as well as astigmatism less than -2.00.
Since LASIK is altering the shape of the cornea, patients with astigmatism or nearsightedness also experience more long-lasting results.
Eye diseases or infections, dry eye, glaucoma, enlarged pupils, cataracts, and other factors can limit the results or exclude you from eligibility.
Regardless of your current situation, a surgeon will assess the quality of your eyes and offer more guidance. You will want to get a professional evaluation; depending on the degree of your potential issues, laser eye surgery could actually worsen your vision.
Vision stability may be another factor for eligibility. Optometrists recommend waiting until your eyesight is steady before undergoing surgery. Age and other conditions like pregnancy and medication use can cause vision changes. Additionally, patients who receive the surgery between ages 25 and 35 often see the best results with the fastest recovery times.
For nearsighted people, vision typically changes periodically throughout early adulthood, so there has yet to be an exact age requirement for LASIK. However, most, if not all, doctors insist on patients being at least 18 years old.
When deciding if LASIK is right for you, it’s important to consider your financial health.
On average, LASIK will cost between $2500-$3000 per eye. When choosing a surgeon, it’s important to move forward with someone due to their expertise instead of their sale prices, and you’ll want them to be fully transparent with the costs of the procedure up front.
Since LASIK is seen as a cosmetic procedure, it’s often excluded from what insurance plans will cover. This can turn into an out-of-pocket expense. However, you’re not out of luck. Many eye care insurance plans offer discounts on LASIK procedures, and the LASIK center itself offers promotions.
Benefits of LASIK
LASIK is a reliable and time-tested procedure. Having received FDA approval over twenty years ago, there have been countless positive results.
The biggest benefit of laser eye surgery is the obvious one — significantly better vision. Most people no longer need corrective lenses after LASIK. Some even regain 20/20 vision.
The required maintenance after LASIK is much less than glasses or contacts. Patients no longer have to deal with the hassles of daily cleaning or soaking, and never have to worry about scratches on their lenses again. Plus, they may end up saving money on new lenses and other supplies over the long run.
Furthermore, the procedure itself is speedy. In all, it only takes about 20 minutes on average for the entire surgery. Plus, there is minimal downtime. Within two days, the bulk of patients are back to normal activities.
The results also appear quite rapidly. Very few people come out of surgery with better vision immediately, but the vast majority have positive results within hours.
Risks and Side Effects of LASIK
Despite the majority of procedures resulting in a smooth transition and speedy recovery, there are—as with all surgeries—possible risks to consider.
The most common side effects are temporary in many cases and often clear up within a few months after the procedure is done. Dry eyes, burning, or itching immediately after surgery are fairly normal and can even be expected. Other people report seeing a slight glare or halo in their vision.
Permanent Side Effects
There have been a few instances in which these side effects were permanent for some people, although it is rare. There are also several available options to help alleviate possible lasting conditions.
Potential patients should know that laser eye surgery may not completely fix every patient’s vision. For those individuals with exceptionally poor eyesight, LASIK might not be enough. In these instances, patients typically still have to use corrective lenses, but at a lower prescription than before.
While extremely uncommon, deficit changes to your vision are within the realm of possibility. Vision loss is usually a result of intense scarring, infection, or other problems during recovery, which can be difficult to predict. Your optometrist will be able to determine if you are at a higher risk for these problems, as well as instruct you on proper after-surgery care.
Decide if LASIK Is for You
Is LASIK worth it? For most, the answer can be a resounding yes!
LASIK is not a good idea for everyone, and results have been known to vary due to many factors. However, if you are indeed a strong candidate, the results can be life-changing. A consultation with your optometrist will shine more light on your specific risks and benefits.
Want to talk to a professional about LASIK and see if you’d be a good candidate? Schedule an appointment with our optometrists today.