The American Refractive Surgery Council Recommends Making the Choice to Have LASIK an Informed One

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For more than a decade, LASIK—one of the most studied medical procedures—has been considered a safe and effective vision correction option for those who are nearsighted, far-sighted and/or have astigmatism. Like all medical procedures, LASIK has benefits and risks and the decision to have LASIK should include questions and research. Dr. D. Rex Hamilton is available to discuss making an informed decision about LASIK.

LASIK surgery risks benefits candidate

Qualified surgeons empower patients with information, not sales tactics

LASIK is an extremely successful surgery with an excellent track record. But, it's surgery and needs to be the subject of serious conversation so that prospective patients can make the choice that is best for them.

According to the American Refractive Surgery Council (ARSC), a consultation with a LASIK surgeon should cover all bases, preparing you for the LASIK experience so you can make a confident decision about having the procedure. But patients should be aware there are LASIK practices that have a reputation for “hard sell” tactics and avoiding difficult discussions about risks, the recovery process and what to expect as a LASIK patient.

That does patients a disservice, says a noted LASIK surgeon.

“People considering LASIK should be given all the information they need to make an informed decision about whether LASIK is right for them,” says Dr. D. Rex Hamilton, M.D., F.A.C.S., a board-certified ophthalmologist. “Fortunately, the vast majority of ophthalmologists are reputable professionals with only their patients’ best interest in mind. However, this is your vision and you should be comfortable with who you are working with to improve it.”

LASIK is an extremely successful surgery with an excellent track record,” Dr. Hamilton says. “But it is surgery, and it needs to be the subject of a serious conversation so that prospective patients can make the choice that’s best for them. You should understand not only the benefits of improved vision, but also the risks, side effects and the healing process.”

“Some people who are dissatisfied by LASIK were given insufficient information up front, and didn’t have realistic expectations or simply didn’t know what to expect,” Dr. Hamilton continues. “That’s unfair to the patients and gives an inaccurate impression of the procedure itself.”

According to Dr. Hamilton, people who are thinking about LASIK should plan to talk to their surgeon at length about:

  •     What LASIK can do and what it can’t. “LASIK can free you from -- or reduce your dependence on -- eyeglasses and contact lenses, improve your vision, and enable you to have a more active lifestyle,” Dr. Hamilton says. “But it has limitations. In particular, it can’t stop the aging process. Your eyes will continue to age, and you may need glasses for reading at some point in the future.”
  •     The factors that might make you a good or bad candidate for LASIK. “LASIK helps millions of people improve their quality of life, but not everyone is a good candidate. People with thin or irregular corneas, certain eye diseases like cataracts or glaucoma, and other immune system diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, and vision correction prescriptions that are changing rapidly – these people may not be able to have LASIK currently. Twenty to 25 percent of patients are ineligible for LASIK,” said Dr. Hamilton. A review of your medical history and thorough eye examination are important steps in determining candidacy.
  •     LASIK side effects and the recovery process. “LASIK is very routine – millions of LASIK procedures have been done successfully. But it is still surgery, and like any surgery, it has side effects and a recovery period,” said Dr. Hamilton. “Immediately after LASIK, people can experience dry eye, scratchy eyes and distortions such as glare or halos. These typically resolve on their own after a few days or weeks. Dry eye symptoms may persist for several months but can typically be treated very effectively. But people should know what to expect.”
  •     The risks of LASIK. “All surgery involves risk, and LASIK is no different. Risks are minimized through effective screening – your surgeon should discuss your health profile with you, explain the risks and help you decide whether or not LASIK is right for you. Finally, read the informed consent carefully and in your own time. Understand all of the information it includes and feel free to ask your surgeon any follow up questions,” Dr. Hamilton explains.
  •     What to expect from LASIK. “LASIK is surgery and that involves a recovery process. The clearer and more accurate your expectations are, the more likely it is that you’ll have a satisfying LASIK experience,” says Dr. Hamilton.

“A consultation with a LASIK surgeon should be balanced, detailed and personalized to you and your vision,” Dr. Hamilton says. “It should never feel like a sales process.”

“If you’re considering LASIK, it’s a good idea to do your homework by visiting websites such as http://www.americanrefractivesurgerycouncil.org or http://www.eyesurgeryeducation.org/,” Dr. Hamilton continues. “Learn as much as you can about LASIK, then write out your questions before you go to the consultation. When you’re there, listen and trust your instincts. If you feel that you’re in the hands of a responsible surgeon, you probably are. If you feel that you’re talking to a salesman who glosses over issues and concerns, then you may want to find someone else to perform your LASIK surgery.”

About The American Refractive Surgery Council
The American Refractive Surgery Council (ARSC) is a cooperative working group made up of refractive surgery industry representatives and medical professionals. ARSC promotes the interests and general welfare of the refractive surgery industry in the United States. Its primary function is to educate the public about the safety, clinical outcomes and lifestyle benefits of refractive surgery, including LASIK and refractive intraocular lens implants, and supporting research into laser- and IOL-based refractive technologies.

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Liana Miller

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