LASIK is under fire again. Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK), was recently in the news because of a study on the high percentage of side effects experienced. These side effects reported include glare and halos. I began working in the refractive industry over 12 years ago and over the years have seen many news stories. Some stories proclaim the negative outcomes from LASIK and some proclaim the positive. I can’t help but be frustrated by the generalization that these stories make. LASIK is not a procedure that can be performed by any Ophthalmologist. For patient satisfaction, it takes training. It takes skill. It takes experience. It takes technology.
I have worked with many refractive surgeons over the years. Their experience has ranged from LASIK pioneers to those just beginning their refractive surgery career. I can say one thing for certain; there is a definite learning curve with LASIK. Not only is the surgeons experience important, so too is the technology utilized by the surgeon. If the best surgeon in the world is using outdated equipment, there is a higher chance that the patient treated will have some negative side effects such as glare and halos. The same thing applies for new surgeons using the most advanced equipment.
Every eye is different and as such, outcomes vary from person to person. The technology used successfully on one patient, may not be the best for another due to their unique eye needs. Variety is a good thing and a surgeon offering more than one option to their patients is ideal. Medicine in general comes with its fair share of risks. Life comes with risks. It is up to the surgeon to ensure the patient is made aware of these risks. They must also be informed if they have a higher than normal chance of experiencing adverse side effects. It is then up to the patient to acknowledge the risks associated with having the procedure and determine if they want to move forward.
So what should a consumer do? Research is my best answer. Make sure you are choosing a surgeon who is experienced and offers the best technology for you. If LASIK is not your best option, accept that, instead of searching for a surgeon willing to perform the procedure on you. Be a smart consumer.
If you are a refractive surgeon, ensure you are educating the community on your experience and the technology offered to your patients. Help the community be better LASIK consumers. There are always going to be negative stories that create confusion in the community at large. Be proactive by setting the bar high. Help your patients make the best LASIK choice for them by giving them the tools they need to make informed decisions. Help them see. If you need assistance in this area, give me a call. I’d be glad to help!