Is Laser Eye Surgery Really as Dangerous As You Think?

Is Laser Eye Surgery Really as Dangerous As You ThinkHow many people do you know wear contact lenses to correct blurry vision? Chances are, you can probably name at least a handful—you may even be one of them. When it comes to correcting blurry vision, the alternative to spending a lifetime fumbling with contacts is LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), otherwise known as laser eye surgery. Recent studies have shown that, thanks to technological advances in the area of eye health, LASIK is now an equally effective tool for improving blurry vision caused by both nearsightedness and farsightedness.

Because the terms LASIK and “laser eye surgery” sound like serious, invasive procedures, many people often assume that it poses greater risks than wearing contacts everyday. But the truth is LASIK is no more dangerous than wearing contact lenses for blurry vision.

Contact lenses have generally been accepted and promoted by eye health professionals as a safe and convenient means of improving blurry vision. A contact lens is basically a thin, transparent plastic lens that is placed over the cornea of each eye. Contact lenses correct blurry vision from nearsightedness or farsightedness the same way that eyeglasses do, by altering the direction of light rays so that light is properly focused onto your retina.

Contact users usually receive a short briefing from an eye health specialist with basic instructions on how to use and care for their lenses, and then they’re sent on their way. Unfortunately, many people who wear contacts for blurry vision neglect the importance of eye health and often fail to follow the instructions. Some of the most common mistakes are as simple as sleeping with the contacts in overnight, leaving them in longer than recommended, and rinsing them with tap water—all of these can increase the risk of a bacterial infection. In fact, one in every 100 contact wearers is at a high risk for developing a critical eye infection, which not only causes blurry vision, but can also lead to vision loss.

When you take these risks into consideration, today’s LASIK procedure isn’t any more dangerous. LASIK does have risks, however, and they should always be discussed with your surgeon. But this does clear the misconception that specialized laser eye surgery is more dangerous than wearing contacts to improve blurry vision.

Advancements in eye health and LASIK technology have allowed for significant improvements over the years, reducing the prevalence of many of the side effects that were once associated with LASIK. Today, LASIK is performed using refractive surgery, which corrects blurry vision by using a laser to change the shape of your cornea so that light can better reflect onto the retina.

New eye-tracking technology has eliminated the problems of patients’ involuntary eye movements during the surgery, which has improved the procedure’s ability to correct blurry vision. Studies have also found that LASIK has become a much safer option for blurry vision correction because so many more doctors and eye health professionals are now better trained and have become more skilled at performing laser eye surgery.

If you’re considering LASIK to correct your blurry vision, keep in mind that it will set you back an average of $2,000.00 per eye, which is steep compared to the average $250.00 cost of a year’s supply of contact lenses. At the end of the day, the choice is yours, but as the research has shown, LASIK isn’t as scary as it sounds when it comes to clearing your blurry vision.

Sources:
Ackermann, R., et al., “Optical side-effects of fs-laser treatment in refractive surgery investigated by means of a model eye,” Biomedical Optics Express 2013; 4(2): 220-229.
“How Contacts Work,” All About Vision web site; https://www.allaboutvision.com/contacts/faq/how-contacts-work.htm, last accessed July 18, 2013.
“Laser Eye Surgery for Vision Correction,” Health Canada web site; https://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/med/surgery-chirurgie-eng.php, last accessed July 18, 2013.
Lasik vs Contact Lenses,” Casey Eye Institute web site; https://www.ohsu.edu/xd/health/services/casey-eye/clinical-services/laser-vision-correction/lasikvscontacts.cfm, last accessed July 18, 2013.
Mathers, M.D., et al., “Risk of Lasik Surgery vs Contact Lenses,” Archives of Ophthalmology 2006; 124(10): 1510-1511.


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