As more contact lens wearers turn to LASIK surgery for long-term vision correction, options for refractive eye surgery procedures continue to rise. MarketScope reports more than 17 million people around the world have had LASIK surgery since its inception in the early ’90s, and approximately 8 million Americans are enjoying the benefits of clear vision.
Is now the best time to pursue LASIK surgery, or should you wait a few more years until technology gets even better?
A Brief History of LASIK
When Stephen Brint performed the first LASIK procedure in 1991, nobody could have predicted its high success rate just two decades later. After its FDA approval just over ten years ago, LASIK quickly gained popularity as a viable alternative to wearing contact lenses or glasses. By 2002, technological advancements led to FDA approval of Wavefront technology and IntraLase, and both procedures continue to show promising results. Still, this corrective eye procedure is not without its side effects.
In his report, ‘LASIK, Future Advances’ Christopher Yo, MD, PhD, and Clinical Instructor at the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Southern California points out that conventional laser ablations are often a cause of night vision problems and double vision in only one eye (Source: eMedicine.com). During the healing process, many patients also experience sensitivity to bright lights, swollen and inflamed eyes, dry eyes, and blurred vision. Other complications of LASIK include corneal flap problems, permanent vision loss as a result of inflammation, and progressive thinning of the cornea (ectasia).
LASIK has slowly become more affordable for the average patient, and thousands of ‘bargain LASIK’ centers are cropping up around the country. Still, many doctors and surgeons warn against compromising cost — if a ‘doctor’ is unqualified or inexperienced, you lose the chance of receiving a safe and effective procedure. Even the latest technology cannot replace the skills and experience of a well-trained surgeon, and both your eye health and vision are at stake.
Future Options for Corrective Eye Procedures
One of the latest alternatives for LASIK refractive eye surgery is the Implantable Contact Lens. The Implantable Collamer Lens (Visian ICL) has been approved by the FDA, and is produced by STAAR Surgical Company. The product and procedure is most suitable for patients who are near-sighted or for those who have thin corneas – both conditions that may not be treated effectively with LASIK.
Reducing night vision problems and aberrations is another goal of LASIK developers and researchers. The ‘halo effect’ is a common side effect of LASIK, and this can create vision problems in the long-term. Wavefront technology has reduced the chances of aberrations in recent years, and future developments may improve this even further. LASIK offers some of the highest success rates for refractive eye procedures, and thousands of patients are enjoying high-quality 20/20 vision as a result.
As technology improves and the procedure becomes even more precise, many problems once associated with LASIK may cease to exist. Still, the conventional laser treatment may not be the only option; from implantable contact lenses to more precise technologies for the conventional LASIK procedure, you may have many options in the near future.
The future of LASIK looks promising, but the only way to ensure quality treatment is by working with a professional doctor or LASIK surgeon.