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How to Avoid LASIK Surgery Injuries

May 6, 2008

How to Avoid LASIK Surgery Injuries

LASIK eye surgery holds great appeal for those looking to rid themselves of bothersome eyeglasses and contact lenses.  However, LASIK surgery is not without risk, and some people with certain pre-existing conditions should avoid the procedure entirely. 

Despite the white coats they often wear, the front office staff at many eye surgery centers are not always medical professionals, and many LASIK eye surgery candidates might not even meet their surgeon until the day of their procedure.  What's worse, the staff at a majority of these centers are often paid a commission based on the number of surgeries they "sell."  Unfortunately, this set-up can create a situation where screening staff play down the risks of LASIK surgery, and hype its positive outcomes.  There have also been cases were patients who have conditions that should have disqualified them for LASIK have been cleared for the procedure anyway by staff too eager to make a sale.

One of the best ways to avoid LASIK surgery side effects, as well as disappointment with results, is to become an educated consumer.  LASIK surgery permanently reshapes the cornea, there are no guarantees of 20/20 vision, and the long-term safety of LASIK remains unknown. Very often, the side effects of LASIK surgery are permanent, and will affect a person for the rest of their lives.

It is first of all important to remember that not everyone is a candidate for LASIK surgery.  Those considering LASIK should be fully evaluated in advance for conditions such as dry eye, which affects an estimated 10 million Americans.  Contact lenses, birth control pills, antihypertensive medications, and antihistamine use can lead to dry eye.  Those with moderate-to-severe dry eye should be advised prior to LASIK surgery since the eye will certainly be drier afterward. 

Misshapen or excessively thin corneas, early cataract formation or big pupils, and  underlying conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, often result in bad LASIK outcomes.  In patients who are far-sighted, the level of improved vision after LASIK surgery may decrease with age.

Even patients who are ideal candidates for LASIK surgery can experience complications.  Typical side effects of LASIK include halos, starbursts, and poor night vision.  All of these side effects are extremely debilitating, as they impact a person's ability to drive, play sports, and engage in other daily activities. 

Anyone considering LASIK should look for a physician who is fellowship-trained in corneal diseases, and speak to the prospective surgeon well in advance of the procedure.  If front office staff insists that this be done the day of surgery, it is a good idea to find a more cooperative eye surgery center.  When speaking with a surgeon, ask how many LASIK procedures the surgeon has conducted and when.

It is also important to ask a LASIK surgeon what equipment he or she is using.  Not all LASIK lasers are of the same quality, and some have higher complication rates than others.  Some LASIK lasers have been subject to recall, and in some instances, doctors have used lasers not approved for use in the US.  Once the make and model of a LASIK laser are known, a brief internet search will reveal if it is a defective or unapproved device.

Eye sight is precious, and permanent LASIK side effects can have a devastating impact on quality of life.  Anyone considering LASIK surgery should be their own advocate, and arm themselves with the information they need to help them avoid these life-altering injuries.


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