People who are considering LASIK ask me many questions about it, from LASIK safety to procedure costs, but often what they really want to know is, can LASIK transform their lives?
In many ways, the answer is yes. I tell my patients laser vision correction can liberate them from glasses and contacts and allow them to pursue active lifestyles where glasses or contacts are problematic.
But while LASIK is an excellent procedure, it is surgery and not everyone is a candidate. And even if you are, your eyesight will still change over time as your eyes age.
Here are some facts you should know:
- LASIK can improve your vision – sometimes even more than glasses or contact lenses can. The advantage of LASIK is in how LASIK works — you’re correcting the shape of the cornea itself. With glasses or contacts, you’re compensating for the cornea by putting another lens in front of it. That’s not as exact. LASIK allows more precise corrections, and that can translate into better vision.
- LASIK can free you from the inconvenience of glasses or contacts. Eyeglasses fog and get smudged – they have to be cleaned regularly and they often interfere with an active lifestyle. Contacts can cause irritation, infection and require cleaning and disinfection. With LASIK patients rarely need appliances – we’ve corrected the eye itself, so there’s no vision correction hardware to maintain.
- LASIK can allow you to pursue an active lifestyle. There are activities where glasses or contacts are an inconvenience or even a barrier. Many people who choose LASIK are athletes or enjoy the outdoors. Swimming, running, skiing, baseball or other sports can be difficult or impossible for people who wear eyeglasses or contacts. With LASIK, people can enjoy them freely – without the hassle or risk of eyewear.
- LASIK can open up new career possibilities. There are some high-impact, high-risk careers that can be more difficult to pursue if you wear glasses or contacts. Laser vision correction has opened the door for many to pursue their dreams jobs – from NASA and the U.S. Military to firefighters and police officers.
- LASIK can’t promise permanent results for all patients. LASIK can improve your vision, but it can’t keep your eye from aging. Even if you’ve had LASIK, your vision may change with age. If you have LASIK when you’re young, for example, it’s possible that someday when you’re older, you’ll need reading glasses.
- LASIK is surgery and there is a recovery period. LASIK is surgery and, as with any surgery, there is a recovery process. While most people see better immediately after LASIK, in the first few weeks people can experience dry eye, glare and halos. These typically resolve on their own or with additional treatment.
- LASIK is surgery. All surgery carries risk, and LASIK is no exception. If you’re considering LASIK, you should talk with your surgeon about the risks so you can make a fully informed decision about whether you should have LASIK.
- Not everyone is a LASIK candidate. Unfortunately, some people are not good candidates for LASIK. If your corneas are too thin or irregular, or if you have eye diseases like glaucoma, or uncontrolled autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, you may not be able to benefit from LASIK.
Bottom line – LASIK can make a huge difference in how you experience and enjoy your life. But as with most things in medicine, the best way to think about it is to be realistic. Understand LASIK’s positives, the possible limitations of the procedure, and the fact that every person’s experience will be a little different. If you think about it that way, you’ll be better prepared to get real enjoyment out of your LASIK procedure, now and for years to come