LASIK vision correction is an outpatient procedure that can offer lifelong positive changes. High-tech innovations and new surgical techniques have transformed the field, with new, safer, more accurate treatment options and far fewer complications.
“All LASIK is not the same. Outcomes can vary with the expertise of the surgeon and the state of the laser technology offered,” explains Martin Fox, MD, FACS, leading refractive and corneal surgeon and an early LASIK pioneer. It’s important for those considering the procedure to educate themselves thoroughly by researching doctors' track records and the technologies they use.”
"There are no medical treatments that are completely free of potential complications, however, the incidence of reported problems remains under 2% when the latest technologies are applied with skilled hands," said Dr. Fox. “9 million Americans have had LASIK to date. The procedure remains one of the safest surgeries available and outcomes have continued to improve over time.”
LASIK’s safety and efficacy is well-documented by a vast body of scientific literature - more than 7,000 studies have been conducted over more than 20 years, including clinical trials from the U. S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as independent studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Defense. “Patient screening is everything,” Dr. Fox explains. "Consumers should make sure they are evaluated by experienced professionals using the most up-to-date technologies to determine if LASIK is right for them.”
Dr. Fox notes that consumers should:
- Know that all LASIK procedures are not the same.
- New technologies offer greater accuracy, fewer potential side effects and outcomes not possible with older lasers.
- Never shop for LASIK by price. Discount pricing is often a red flag, indicating inferior, or cheaper laser technologies.
- Search for a qualified surgeon – one who practices corneal and refractive surgery as their sole specialty. It makes a difference in outcomes – they will have greater in-depth knowledge and experience in managing a full range of potential post-operative issues.
- Make sure their doctor is devoted to good outcomes – and examines every patient with care to ensure that they are a good candidate. They should warn patients of all potential side effects and if ideal outcomes are not possible.
- Know that new technologies can improve, correct or reverse some past negative LASIK outcomes. Newer technologies such as the KAMRA corneal inlay can also now restore near vision for older LASIK candidates or those with a history of past LASIK procedures.
Keep in mind that LASIK is not for everyone. A refractive surgeon should be open and realistic with about possible alternatives and any potential risks.
Technologies and terms consumers should look for when researching LASIK:
Uses a femtosecond laser (the IntraLase FS®)to create the LASIK “flap” rather than a blade. It is safer and offers faster healing times with better outcomes.
Customized LASIK / Wavefront iDesign: Three-dimensional analysis maps the interior and exterior of the eye in detail. Measurements plot the way light enters each eye and determines their unique focusing imperfections and existing refractive errors. Used by the excimer laser, which reshapes the cornea.
Idesign is the current version of Wavefront. It is 500% more accurate and provides precise, predictable outcomes.
There are three types of custom LASIK:
1) Wavefront-guided LASIK: Maps the interior and exterior of the eye to customize a personalized laser vision correction treatment.
2) Wavefront-optimized LASIK: Maps the curvature of the front surface of the eye to preserve the natural shape of one’s cornea. Reduces the post-surgical risk of halos around lights and other potential night vision problems.
3) Topography-guided LASIK: Maps the surface of the cornea to correct vision problems caused by corneal irregularities (including corneal scars) in addition to refractive errors.