In a time in which computer screens have become a part of everyday life, myopia or nearsightedness is more prominent than ever. Currently forty percent of the US population is myopic, and the rate is expected to reach fifty percent by 2050. This is why Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, or more commonly known as LASIK, has greatly increased in popularity over the past decade. This elective procedure eliminates the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses by reshaping the cornea to correct myopia.
LASIK has been known for its significantly low complication rates, which is why it is so appealing to those who have worn glasses or contacts almost their entire lives. While this procedure has been highly praised by the public, the New York Times recently listed disability, social isolation, and depression as possible side effects of this procedure. These conditions were especially true for Geobanni Ramirez, who now sees everything in triplicate since his surgery. This article will therefore explore the benefits and risks of this procedure, and whether it is worth the price.
Ophthalmologists have realized that this procedure can truly be life changing. One ophthalmologist performed this surgery on a woman who had a -9.0 prescription. Several months after the procedure, there was a power outage in the middle of the night and her newborn baby began crying. She told the doctor that she was successfully able to reach and comfort her baby due to her new vision, something she would not have been able to do previously. The amount of joy this patient expressed made him realize that the convenience that came with this procedure could be as life changing as any other eye surgery.
This does not mean that LASIK is immune to complications. While most people may think that complications mainly stem from the procedure itself, it is negligence during the preoperative consult that can create the most problems. Many things factor into good LASIK candidacy, such as eye health, corneal thickness, and pupil size; some people may simply not be good candidates. Additionally, this procedure can bring about side effects, such as dry eyes and halos, which can indirectly cause the side effects of disability, social isolation, and depression that Ramirez experienced.
These unfortunate side effects, however, should not scare people away from considering this procedure, but rather serve as a caution. While they are important to keep in mind, many steps can be taken to significantly lower the chance of side effects and complications from occurring. Patients should feel comfortable with their doctor and his/her opinions. If they are not comfortable, they should not hesitate to approach another ophthalmologist for a second opinion. Additionally, people should be ready to receive a ‘no’ from the doctor and respect that decision. It is important for patients to understand that when a doctor says no to a surgery, it does not mean that the doctor is incapable of performing it. This means that the doctor has the patient’s best interests at heart and truly believes that the risks outweigh the benefits. Most importantly, patients should fully understand the risks of this procedure. Ramirez was not informed of the risks, which could explain why his side effects affected him so greatly. Patients should make sure to choose a doctor who will clearly outline the risks, benefits, and assessment of the surgery with the patients and should also make sure to study these risks on their own time.
With these precautions in mind, the patient should be able to achieve the optimal surgery experience and make it worth the cost. The doctor and patient must simply remember to work together to decide the best course of action.