LASIK Eye Surgery
From ugly duckling to beautiful swan with the zap of a laser
If you've ever dreamed of waking up in the morning and not needing glasses to find your way to the bathroom, you probably have wondered if LASIK eye surgery is for you. Maybe you were the four eyes in grade school or you have suffered through the drying, annoying feeling of contact lenses on your eyes your whole life. LASIK is surgery that can free you from the bonds of lenses and glasses, but you have to be very careful when approaching this surgery. LASIK stands for Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. So, in other words, a surgeon takes a laser, aims it at your eye, and shaves off bits of your cornea with it. By shaving your cornea, the laser makes your eyes better able to refract light, and you are able to see without the assistance of glasses. With your eyes, however, you have to be especially careful because it is very easy to lose vision, and that is one of the possible side effects of LASIK surgery. Take the time to research your surgeon, the equipment, and the price before putting your eyes on the line.
Surgeon experience: how many zaps does he have under his belt?
You want to make sure your eye surgeon has done enough LASIK surgeries that he can have some statistics behind his practice to share with you. You will want to ask him what percentages of his patients achieve 20/20 vision without corrective lenses. Sometimes, even with surgery, this goal is not possible, but this is still a good benchmark to determine how much success your surgeon has had in his practice. You also want to ask how many surgeries he has done and what his rate of side effects has been in those surgeries. Ask how many have night blindness, halos, or blurring. Any surgeon that is not willing to share his history or his numbers with you should immediately bring up a red flag in your mind. Having an experienced surgeon is one of the primary ways to avoid LASIK surgery side effects, so it is important to thoroughly investigate your surgeon before you agree to accept his services. Any attempts to thwart your inquiries should make you run in the opposite direction.
Laser safety: just how does the equipment stack up?
When you decide to have LASIK eye surgery, the equipment itself will actually determine how successful your surgery is. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reviewed all LASIK lasers and has safety studies on each of them to determine if they are safe for the public. Your surgeon should give you a booklet about the equipment they use, and you can look up the safety rating of that particular machine. Some machines now have a “bladeless” system where all of the cutting is done by lasers. In the early stages of LASIK surgery, a small window is cut into the upper layer of the cornea to expose the middle layer of the cornea for shaving. In older systems, this initial cut is performed with a stainless steel blade. Newer systems use a laser. The jury is still out as to what is better or more comfortable for you as a patient, but it makes sense to know the safety rating and the rate of success of the laser your surgeon uses. If it is a machine with a good track record, you can feel more at ease trusting your eyesight to it.
Price: bargain basement surgery isn't always the best
Since most health insurance does not cover LASIK eye surgery, you are going to have to pay for this procedure out-of-pocket. Your first instinct might be to find a cheap surgeon and run with it, but that could end up disastrously for you. Many surgeons offer this procedure, and many are willing to part you with your money by any means necessary. They will resort to cheap marketing tactics and ploys to get you to use their service over the competition, but you can't put your eyesight down to price alone. Take time to fully investigate your surgeon, his background, his technique, and his equipment before signing on the dotted line. Cheap medical procedures are just a bad idea all the way around. If you cannot afford to pay a traditional doctor for LASIK eye surgery, then you probably are not in a position to get it. You risk losing what sight you do have with glasses by putting them at risk with LASIK surgery. A surgeon who costs a little more is worth it if it means having your vision for the rest of your life.
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