I spend most of my day talking with patients about their vision; how to protect it and make it better. It’s what I love to do. The very best conversations I have with patients include lots of questions – particularly important for those who are considering an elective procedure such as LASIK. I decided I wanted to write about the top questions I want you to ask me about LASIK. Here are the first five:
How safe is LASIK?
The safety of LASIK is proven by a tremendous amount of scientific evidence gathered by hundreds of clinical researchers. Based upon all this data, and it has one of the largest data sets ever compiled concerning a medical procedure, that LASIK is considered extremely safe.
Am I a good candidate and if so why?
This should be determined by a thorough evaluation of your vision and eyes in a comprehensive consultation with your LASIK surgeon. Being a good physical candidate is important, but it is also necessary to include your personality and lifestyle in making the decision to move forward.
What are the chances I will obtain the vision I desire?
As with the data supporting the safety of LASIK, there is a vast amount of research supporting the effectiveness of the procedure. The latest lasers and diagnostic technologies have further refined the performance of LASIK to deliver visual outcomes that are better than ever with more than 95 percent of patients achieving 20/20 vision and nearly 100 percent of patients achieving at least 20/40. The most recent review of the LASIK research worldwide shows that more than 96 percent of patients are satisfied with their vision.
Will I need to ever wear glasses again in the future?
Most patients no longer need to rely on glasses or contacts, and the ones that do see their dependence on corrective eyewear drastically reduced. While the results from LASIK surgery are considered to be permanent, you will still be susceptible to age-related eye conditions such as presbyopia and cataracts. Should you develop one of these conditions, you may need to use reading glasses or additional treatment.
What can I do to improve my results prior to, during, and following the procedure?
Having a thorough understanding of the procedure, what to expect during the recovery and carefully following the post-operative medication and activity regimen are all essential to a successful outcome.
When can I go back to doing normal activities?
Typically, patients return to work the next day and are back to their normal routine within a week or two.
We strongly recommend, once you’ve had a thorough LASIK evaluation and it is determined you are a good or even excellent candidate for LASIK, you get information from a variety of sources. We are here to answer your questions and want to help you with this decision in any way we can. We also understand the need to do some independent research. In addition to talking with your friends and family who have had LASIK, the American Refractive Surgery Council offers a lot of information about vision correction procedures and is a good resource.
Let’s face it, most people who wear contact lenses have a love-hate relationship with them.
Ah…the exhilaration of that first pair of contact lenses when for the first time you, who have known the struggle with glasses, are able to see without anyone knowing that, in reality, you can’t. But, that sense of freedom can be fleeting once you realize that contacts, too, have limitations. And, for many, the disappointment sets in when signs of contact lens intolerance appear. It begins with a slight irritation or dry eye; but over time, it can become a sight-threatening issue.
What is contact lens intolerance?
Contact lens intolerance happens when a person’s eyes get irritated when they put in their contacts – becoming bothersome enough that they want to take them out and stop wearing them. Symptoms can be temporary and range from a mild gritty or stinging sensation to more serious issues such as chronic dry eye, abrasions, infections and even corneal ulcers. And for some, these complications are sight-threatening – for up to 1 in 500 contact lens users per year – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing a study published in 2008.
What causes contact lens intolerance?
There are several possible factors. It could be that the fit isn’t right. Perhaps age or hormone changes are contributing factors. Certainly the over-wearing of lenses and the resulting deposits developing on the surface of the lens is as issue, as is not cleaning lenses properly, or sensitivity to lens cleaning solutions; all are associated with the spectrum of symptoms in contact lens intolerance. Whatever the cause, people with contact lens intolerance are better off looking for alternative solutions, such as switching to glasses or having LASIK eye surgery to correct their vision permanently without needing corrective lenses of any type.
Even people who don’t suffer from contact lens intolerance eventually find that the appeal of contacts begins to fade. All types of contact lenses reduce the amount of oxygen reaching the cornea – the front of the eye where the contact resides. Even with proper care and meticulous hygiene, this can lead to an increased risk of eye problems.
A recently published study of long-term (<5 years) contact lens users showed that, over a 3-year period, their level of satisfaction with using contact lenses decreased significantly: from 63 percent down to 54 percent. The study also showed that people who used to use contacts, but then chose to have LASIK eye surgery, had a much higher level of satisfaction with their vision that only improved over time. Importantly, LASIK has a much lower risk of sight threatening infection – 1 in 10,000 according to clinical research.
If you wear contacts and experience symptoms such as red, irritated eyes, ongoing dry eye symptoms, pain or swelling, it’s vital you don’t ignore any of these symptoms. To protect the health of your eyes and vision, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Donnenfeld at Long Island LASIK immediately as you may be contact lens intolerant. It may be time for you to consider other forms of vision correction, such as LASIK.
If you’re considering LASIK, you’ve no doubt asked yourself important questions: Is it safe? Is it effective? Is it right for you? Maybe you’ve already asked the same questions of your LASIK surgeon. If not, you should.
Here’s another question that might be on your mind – when your surgeon responds to those questions, how does he or she know what to tell you?
The answer is science. LASIK, like all other medical procedures, drugs, and medical devices, is the subject of extensive research. The research – we call it “clinical research” – is carefully designed to tell us whether medical treatments work, how well, and for what kinds of patients.
How does clinical research work?
Clinical research is a scientific medical exploration or investigation into the performance of a drug, medical device or treatment regimen with the primary goal of determining whether it is safe and effective for patients. It is conducted over an extended period of time – months and sometimes years – by scientists. The reports of these studies are incredibly detailed, running 20 to 100 pages or more.
The research begins with a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an educated guess about the treatment and its ability to provide a certain benefit. Research is then conducted to test whether the hypothesis is true or false. Research can take many different forms, but essentially data is collected, analyzed in the context of the hypothesis and then the findings are reported. The findings of clinical research determine which drugs, devices and treatments are approved for use and often compares them to previously approved treatments. Importantly, clinical research serves to build our knowledge about prevention, treatment, and diagnosis.
LASIK has been the subject of a tremendous amount of clinical research. In fact, LASIK is one of the most studied elective procedures performed today. More than 9,000 patients participated in FDA clinical trials alone from 1993-2005. Over time, a tremendous amount of clinical research into LASIK has been conducted – to date more than 7,000 peer-reviewed published studies, in fact – to confirm the procedure is both safe and effective as well as look into other important aspects of LASIK. This includes studies that help refine what makes a patient a good or bad candidate for the procedure, and techniques and technologies that can reduce the potential for side effects such as dry eye, glare and halos.
Clinical studies have tested the many improvements in LASIK since the procedure was first approved. In medicine, technologies and techniques evolve and advance over time. LASIK is no different. Today’s excimer lasers – the lasers that reshape the cornea to improve vision – are more precise and easier to work with than earlier models. Newer lasers and technologies are able to customize the procedure to the specific shape and thickness of a patient’s cornea and treat a broader range of vision impairments. All of these advances lead to better visual outcomes and a safer procedure for more people.
Research doesn’t just answer your questions – it answers ours as well. The clinicians – the scientists – who work with LASIK are committed to an ongoing process of improvement in the procedure. We continually ask questions as a means of finding potential in LASIK. There is a reason “quest” is the root of the word “question.” This illustrates that scientific exploration is a process, a path – not necessarily a destination. The question is the beginning, not the end.
It is important to understand what clinical findings say – and what they don’t. This can be difficult, because news stories about new clinical studies often grab a dramatic headline, but miss the details and the nuance that are part of every research report. No one study has a final, definitive answer about any medical treatment, device, procedure or drug. By definition, a study has a very specific scope – a specific question it is trying to answer. While the results of a single study can be compelling, interesting and encouraging, they are only a piece of a bigger and growing body of science. This is why you have to be cautious about any reporting that describes dramatic conclusions from a single study.
In the case of LASIK, there is tremendous confidence, based upon an extraordinarily large amount of clinically-based evidence, that the procedure is safe and effective. It isn’t perfect, because nothing is. However, it ranks among the most thoroughly investigated, most effective and safest procedures performed today.
To find out more about LASIK, start here. Then contact us, so we can start a conversation about what LASIK can do for you.
At Long Island LASIK, we have a proud and long-standing tradition of contributing to the body of science in vision and eye health. As part of that work, we participated in the recently published study, “Modern Laser in Situ Keratomileusis Outcomes.” The study, a scientific literature review of more than 4,400 peer-reviewed clinical studies, found patients are experiencing better visual outcomes than ever before and that the procedure has improved over time. The findings underscore the tremendous amount of research both supporting and advancing the science of LASIK. The data clearly show LASIK results have only improved with innovation and better patient screening protocols.
For those considering LASIK, the good news from this study is that LASIK continues to be a very safe and effective vision correction procedure that has only gotten better over time.
Dr. Eric Donnenfeld and our entire team love to hear from patients about life after LASIK. Many patients tell us how their favorite activities, like exercise and traveling, become easier and more enjoyable without having to depend on glasses or contact lenses to see clearly. We are very pleased to have helped improve quality of life for so many people! Here, Dr. Donnenfeld shares some examples of activities that are more convenient and rewarding after LASIK. Continue reading
If you need glasses or contacts in order to see your way through life, it is likely at some point, perhaps in a moment of struggle with your eyes, vision or lenses, you’ve thought about what life would be like without a vision problem. In that moment, you’ve probably thought about LASIK vision correction surgery. And then you say to yourself: “Yeah…someday.”
Having LASIK is a choice and so is putting it off. Every choice comes with certain outcomes – even putting something off. With a decision like vision correction, you may not think about the consequences of NOT having it done, but here are a few:
You Might Be Wasting Money
A lifetime of vision correction expenses adds up to a surprisingly large amount of money – thousands of dollars. LASIK is an investment, but very doable for most budgets with the very economical financing options available today. And every day, week, month and year you don’t pay for glasses, frames, lenses, solution, cases, etc. is a day you are recouping your investment in your vision. So, the sooner you have vision correction surgery, the sooner you begin saving money. Those who make the investment in their 20s and 30s can expect at least a decade or two of excellent vision (eventually everyone needs reading glasses), meaning they will certainly save more than they spend on the cost of LASIK.
You Might Be Compromising the Health of Your Eyes
This is particularly true if your choice of vision correction is contact lenses. Contacts require diligence. Maintenance is mandatory. The fact is, a lot of people abuse their lenses and put their eyes and vision at risk from infection. We see this frequently in young adults who take their health for granted. The reality is the risk of sight-threatening infection from long-term contact lens use is greater than that of LASIK. And choosing eyeglasses doesn’t eliminate risk – ask anyone who has fallen or been hit in the face while wearing them. The fear of damage and injury due to broken frames or lenses is very real.
Importantly, two recent research studies show that contact lens wearers who choose LASIK are much happier with their vision after surgery, while the longer people wear contacts, the less satisfied they are with them. In fact, patients under the age of 40 report being especially satisfied with LASIK as opposed to wearing contacts or glasses.
You Might Be (Artificially) Limiting Your Life
Do you like to travel? Are you into playing sports or working out? Do you like camping and hiking? What about going to the beach?? Each of these circumstances and scenarios should be the fun part of life – and they are, even when you wear glasses and contacts. But let’s be honest, they do present a challenge. Dirt, sand and water threaten the safety of contacts. Hauling contact lens supplies around is a hassle. Prescription sunglasses are expensive and fashions change pretty frequently. The list of compromises you are making in life with glasses and contacts can be pretty long. If you are fortunate enough to pursue your passions in life, you owe it to yourself to experience it all without the limitations of corrective lenses.
So if you’ve been thinking about have LASIK “someday,” these are just a few of the reasons to think again and make your vision and lifestyle a priority. Today’s modern technologies make LASIK a safe and terrific vision correction option for nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism – the latest research confirms up to 96 percent of patients are satisfied with their results. There really has never been a better time than now to find out if you are a candidate for the procedure and if LASIK is right for you.
See Eric D. Donnenfeld, MD featured on CBS’s report on a new lens for Cataract Surgery here: FDA Approves New Lens For Cataract Patients
People Who Choose LASIK After Contact Lenses Are More Satisfied with Their Vision and Remain Satisfied Over Time
A lot of our patients who are interested in LASIK are currently wearing contacts. Here’s news of a recently clinical research study about how LASIK patients who used to be contact lens wearers think about their vision (HINT: They are happier than the study participants who stayed in contacts…by a big margin).
To learn more about the results of this study and how LASIK might be a better option for your vision, visit the American Refractive Surgery Council Insight blog.
As we age, so too do our eyes. A new study, published this year in the JAMA Ophthalmology journal, estimates that with Baby Boomers entering their golden years, the number of Americans who struggle with vision problems will double by 2050, effectively bringing the number to nearly 25 million. In this post, Dr. Eric Donnenfeld discusses the impact as well as potential solutions. Continue reading
Your eyes need specific nutrients to stay healthy and function well. Good nutrition is important for your overall health and wellbeing, but many don’t realize the importance it has for the eyes where specific nutrients can help prevent or delay the onset of certain conditions as well as protect an investment in vision correction procedures such as LASIK. The good news is that today it is easier than ever to make good, healthful diet choices that help you make sure you get all the nutrients your eyes and vision need.
Not surprisingly, it starts with lots of fruits and vegetables. We often talk about “eating a rainbow” every day, because the compounds that give fruits and vegetables their colors are chalk full of powerful nutrition for your overall health and vitality, including your eyes.
But the eye diet doesn’t end there. Certain foods contain nutrients that are important for helping to reduce your risk of age-related eye diseases and conditions including cataracts and macular degeneration, which are leading causes of blindness and visual impairment in the world.
So what should you be adding to your grocery shopping list to ensure you have a healthful eye diet? Below you will find a list of the nutrients that offer the most eye health benefits and the foods that are rich sources:
Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E help protect cells against damage from exposure to harmful elements such as UV rays, cigarette smoke and air pollution. Dark leafy green vegetables like chard, broccoli, spinach and collard greens and citrus fruits and berries such as oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries and apples (with the peel). Almonds, egg yolks, sunflower seeds and wheat germ oil are other good sources.
Carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, are a class of nutrients that make up the bright red, yellow and orange hues in many fruits and vegetables. Remember the rainbow we spoke of eating earlier? Lutein and zeaxanthin may help protect against cataracts. There is some evidence that people with high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin in their diet have a reduced need for cataract surgery. Beta carotene has been shown to help the retina and other parts of the eye to function properly. Foods rich in carotenoids include carrots, leeks, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, kale, egg yolk, and orange peppers.
Minerals like copper, zinc and selenium are vital for eye health. Selenium, found in Brazil nuts, tuna, eggs and cottage cheese, can help prevent cataracts. Zinc and copper need to be taken together for proper absorption and a recent study into age-related eye diseases found that taking them in combination with high doses of antioxidants or carotenoids can slow the progression of the wear and tear of retinal cells, known as age-related macular degeneration.
Liver, shellfish, wholegrain cereals, nuts and legumes are all excellent sources of copper. You can find zinc in red meat, shellfish, dairy products and eggs.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been a popular topic of study, particularly for their benefits in supporting the healthy development of eyes and vision in infants. Omega-3 fatty acids may help protect adult eyes from macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome, which has been linked to low levels of DHA, a fatty acid found in the retina. For diabetics, omega-3 fatty acids are important for preventing retinopathy, a prevalent complication of diabetes that leads to vision impairment. To bolster the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, choose fatty fish such as salmon, which are rich in DHA, dark green leafy vegetables, walnuts, soybean oil and avocadoes.
Polyphenols are powerful plant-based micronutrients that can help defend against the damage to your eyes caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation – primarily from sunlight.
Polyphenols can be found in some of your favorite foods and beverages including dark chocolate, tea, coffee and red wine. You can also find polyphenols in whole grain cereals and beans.
Vitamin B complex levels must be replenished every day, because the body doesn’t have the ability to store it. Protein from as eggs, dairy products, meats and poultry are important sources of vitamin B that help prevent and treat cataracts as well as reduce the risk of AMD. Vitamin B nutrients help support a strong cornea, the surface of the eye, which can delay the onset and progress of eye disorders such as keratoconus.
Ideally, all of your nutritional needs come from a healthy diet, but some people may benefit from taking vision supplements. As part of your annual eye exam, you should discuss your diet with us to determine if you should consider adding a supplement to benefit your eye health.
During the exam, it will be important to discuss any changes to your vision so we can evaluate and make recommendations for vision correction, if needed, as today there are surgical options for nearly every type of prescription.