Lasik is Not For Everyone?

I just read the article, Panel calls for clearer Lasik warning published by The Associated Press.

It reported that 700,000 Americans had undergone Lasik operation seeking for better eyesights. However, about 1% or fewer came out of the operation theaters suffering serious, life-changing side effects. Some got worse vision, others got severe dry eye, yet some suffer from glares or seeing halo effects. All resulted in the inability to drive at night.

It’s the same here in Singapore where I resided. The government also issued warnings to people who are considering and seeking Lasik treatment. Some surgery went terribly wrong.

If 99% of people had successful surgery, surely there’s no need for governments around the world to issue an alert? Not really. A risk is still a risk. Some of us are risk averse and will not want to suffer any consequences. Some like to make an informed decision.

I knew about there’s a risk and I had talked to many ophthalmologists on the subject since Lasik came about. During the first year, my ophthalmologist whom I knew since 6 years advised me to wait another 1-2 years for the technology to settle. I heed his advice. When he gave me a green light to proceed, I still sought to speak several other ophthalmologists. One of the questions asked was: Why are there so many ophthalmologists still wear glasses when there’s so many forms of surgery to correct poor eyesight. One doctor said the more he knows about the risks, the more he is weary to do it on himself. So, he echoed what Dr Jayne Weiss of Detroit’s Kresge Eye said (in the aforementioned article) :

“I can read without my glasses and … operate without my glasses, and I love that,” she said. “The second aspect is I would not tolerate any risk for myself. … Does that mean Lasik is good or not good? It means Lasik is good but not for everyone.”

I, on the other hand, decided to take the plunge. Soldiers who lost their glasses in the battle field resort to Lasik operation for safety and security reasons. Me too. I couldn’t see a person’s face if he is standing 6 feet away from me. I couldn’t even find my glasses on my own should I forgotten where I placed them. After a few panicky incidents due to poor vision, I decided to fork out US$2960 to fix it once and for all.

What’s the result? I have almost perfect vision right now and I’m happy with the results. However, I did experience some temporary discomfort for about 2 weeks after the Lasik surgery:

On the first night, I could hardly open my eyes. When I did, all I could see are glares, double images and halo. My eyes tear easily but the pain was bearable. I had to put on a clear plastic eye mask to sleep for the next 5 days. According to the surgeon, that was to protect my eyes from unconscious scratching while I was sleeping.

The second day was quite all right but I felt a sharp pain growing increasingly on the left eye. I still see double images, glare and halo in the evening but much smaller and not so bright. I can see the surrounding images around the light much better too.

A follow-up visit on the third day had the surgeon proclaimed that the surgery was a success. The pain was due to a slight tear and it would be healed on its own within a week. By the 3rd evening, night vision returned and I could almost see normally.

By the 4th day, I can see everything normally. Though I did not achieve a 6/6, I’ve got what I wanted. I could see a person’s face even he is 10 feet away from me. I have no needs to hunt for glasses because I don’t need them any more. I just need to lubricate my eyes as they were dry

By end of the 2nd week, the dryness of the eyes was gone too.

I was one of the fortunate 99% who went through Lasik operation successfully. However, like my Lasik surgeon said, every operation carries a certain amount of risks. You must weigh the pros and cons before going for an elective surgery. For folks out there who are considering Lasik operation, do check out the surgeon, the clinic and the hospital who is doing the op for you. If in doubts, get second opinions. And yes, read up before you make a consultation appointment because you would want to ask intelligent questions that impact on your eyes.

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