Lasik Surgery, Lasek Surgery, Contact Lenses or Prescription Glasses?

Lasek at Park Avenue Laser-Dave Gibson's Video

Lasik Surgery

I've worn prescription glasses for nearsightedness since the fifth grade. They were a real downer as a kid and high school football player because I had trouble seeing the ball I was supposed to catch as right end, especially at night on poorly lighted fields. At that time plastic lenses for sports were not available and contact lenses had yet to be invented. Eyeglass lenses were made of very thick glass, and the frames were heavy plastic which was easily broken. Later, shortly after contact lenses began began to be offered, I gave them a try, but they irritated my eyes and sometimes popped out unexpectedly. I gave them up after several months and went back to glasses.

More recently I've been following corrective eye surgery developments with some interest. An article, linked below, in today's N.Y. Times by a woman who has experienced problems as a result of lasik eye surgery caught my attention and prompted this page. Her article confirmed my decision not to have lasik surgery. She reports a number of problems.

Her vision was blurry when she was examined the day after surgery, but was told that "was normal." The surgeon told her on subsequent examinations that "everything looked good." "BUT THE BLURRINESS NEVER WENT AWAY." At night she saw halos around street lights; neon signs bled; the moon had two rings around it like Saturn, and her eyes felt sore, a result of dry eyes, which also causes blurriness.

Her doctor told her that sometimes women of a certain age who are undergoing hormonal changes or who take certain medications get dry eye.

Cutting out all prescription and non-prescription drugs didn't help. The doctor told her to use Refresh Plus drops that temporarily help dry eye.She also prescribed Restasis eye drops to increase tear production. But this didn't work either.

The author is no longer wearing glasses, but the 20-20 line on the chart is blurry. She reports she can read it only if she squints, but her doctor interprets this as proof of success and said that "most patients take 3 to l6 months to completely heal." She reports that nearly a year later her problems remain. She concludes with her opinion that the doctor did not accurately explain the pitfalls of lasik surgery although she signed a consent form confirming that she understood the risks. However, she was not aware that 5 to 10 percent of the patients need to have their vision "fine tuned" after a surgical over or under correction.. Her surgeon was Dr. Sandra Belmont, the founding director of the Laser Vision Correction Center at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Anyone contemplating lasik surgery might be well advised to read the full N.Y. Times article by Abby Ellin linked below.

Several years ago at a family funeral I took the opportunity to discuss lasik surgery with a cousin who is a medical school professor of ophthalmology. I asked why he was wearing regular old-fashioned prescription eye glasses rather than contact lenses or having lasik surgery. Without hesitating he replied that his prescription lenses correct his vision to 20-20 and since they are safety glasses they also provide protection for his eyes against flying objects which contacts or lasik surgery do not offer. Moreover, he pointed to the risks of both contact lenses (infection and abrasion) and lasik surgery.

My own experience with prescription glasses over the years has been that I've needed a new prescription every couple of years to keep my corrected vision at 20-20. Eyeglass prescriptions and contact lens prescriptions can easily be changed. But making a correction a couple of years after lasik surgery would require additional surgery with its attendant risks. Therefore, I've decided to stick with my old-fashioned eye glasses! How about you?

(Please leave comments, positive and negative, on your experience with lasik surgery, contact lenses or eyeglasses below.)




Federal Drug Administration Looking into Lasik Surgery Complaints

 

The New York Times reports that the Food and Drug Administration is looking into complaints about lasik surgery including blurred vision, eye pain, halos, severe dry eye and inability to drive at night. Here's a link to the NYT article:.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Lasik-Surgery.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Lasik+surgery&st=nyt&oref=slogin

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Comments 55 comments

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

I'm far-sighted( I like to think in more ways than one:-) and have worn glasses for reading since childhood and for everything since my mid-forties. These days I'm blind as a bat without them. I used to wear contacts when I "dresssed up" but rarely even bother any more. I just throw on my glasses and I'm good to go. I'm used to me with glasses and as far as I'm concerned "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" I'm also one of those people who is terrified in the dentist's chair--imagine what I'd be like with a Lasik surgeon LOL--thanks for bringing up and interesting subject, Ralph.


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

I had Lasik surgery a couple of years ago to correct my 625-675 vision and I'm very satisfied with the results. While it's true that I experienced light halos and blurriness during the first few months, and I didn't get my "best corrected vision" like when I was still wearing contact lenses, everything normalized after a while and I now have 20-20 vision. :-)

I am now very happy that I don't have to spend 10-15 minutes cleaning my contact lenses before going to sleep EVERY night. I am also very happy to be able to see my kittens when I wake up every morning. :-) I used to be practically blind in the mornings because I wore my contact lenses only after my morning shower to prevent them from getting dislodged by the water.

As to eyeglasses, I got dizzy wearing them outdoors in the sun, which was why I switched to contact lenses in the first place. Plus the weight of the glasses pushed on the bridge of my nose making them sore and made two red points just below the inner sides of my eyes. And whenever I played badminton, I had to constantly readjust my glasses or take them off to wipe the sweat off my nose. It was very irritating. :-p

By the way, I kept the two blades the surgeon used to slice through my eyeballs as a reminder of when I got 20-20 vision back. :-D


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago Author

That's good to hear. I have no doubt that lasik surgery has proved very successful for many people, particularly those with need for strong corrective lenses. I wonder whether you have any insight into whether it's likely that your vision will change enough to require additional surgery or prescription lenses? I am nearsighted and for 50 years or so and every two three years my eyes have changed enough that I've gotten a new prescription in order to keep my vision at 20-20. The glasses I used 5-10 years ago aren't even close to my current prescription. Any thoughts?


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Oh, and there's another thing I'd like to share. When I was still wearing eyeglasses, my eyesight kept getting worse with each visit to the doctor, and I had to keep upgrading the lenses on my glasses. When I switched to contact lenses, my eyesight stabilized.

I asked the doctor about this and he explained that nearsightedness is caused by the something-in-the-center-of-the-eyeball bulging outward (that's a scientific explanation :-p) and when I started wearing contact lenses, the lenses formed sort of like a wall and actually prevented that something-in-the-center-of-my-eyeball from bulging outward even more (more scientific explanations :-D). So my eyesight didn't deteriorate anymore after that. :-)


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago Author

I've heard that contact lenses retard the progress of myopia. However, I wonder what happens after lasik surgery? I've wondered about that but haven't heard an answer to that question. I.e., the likelihood of significant vision changes following lasik surgery.????


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

I used to need a new prescription every 6 months while I was still wearing eyeglasses. :-p

The surgeon did tell me that my eyesight would change with age, but he also said the same is true for those who haven't had Lasik. :-o

As to your question of the likelihood of significant vision changes after Lasik surgery, it's still too early for me to tell. It's only been a couple of years, but so far so good. :-)


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago Author

I wish you the best of luck. If I were younger I might try lasik surgery. When I was a kid I hated my thick glasses. But now I'm used to them. Today, glasses are lighter and the frames are less fragile than they used to be. Also, with age I have become less nearsighted. But I need bifocal lenses for reading and for distance. I fear there is no perfect solution.


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Thanks, Ralph. You're right, my age was a big factor in my decision to opt for Lasik. I didn't want to go through 50 more years of contact lenses and eyeglasses. And I had to decide fast because in a few years, my cornea (or something) would've become too thin for me to qualify for Lasik.

As long as you're comfortable with your glasses, I see no reason to change. :-)


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 8 years ago from Sydney

Yuk, Ralph, just looking at that picture makes me cringe!   I, too, have always been too chicken to opt for Lasik.  So far my night-time contact lenses are working well - it still feels amazing to be able to walk around with nothing on my eyes in the daytime.  I have to say they weren't easy to get used to, but the more I read about Lasik, the more I'm glad I didn't take the plunge. Oh, and by the way - I wore bifocals, too.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

I know it works well, but Lasik surgery just does not appeal to me.  People constantly tell me I look great without my glasses, like they are shocked to see me without them.  However, I bought this really cute pair with rhinestones recently and they are so stylish and cute, so now I really feel trendy wearing them.  Plus I kind of like the smart Librarian look, so glasses work for me.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago Author

The newest new thing in laser eye surgery is Lasek surgery. Video added to HubPage.


Aya_Hajime profile image

Aya_Hajime 7 years ago

Thanks for your very informative hub. I am considering doing Lasik, but I haven't decided yet. My brother and stepmother have both done Lasik several years ago and they both really love the results. When I went to see my optometrist, he advised me to wait for a bit until my vision stabilized so that there is less likelihood of vision changes afterwards. He did warn me to expect a possible adjustment surgery afterwards. I am still undecided. I sure would hate it if my vision became worse after the surgery.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 7 years ago Author

Thanks for the comment. I wish you well whatever you decide to do.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

Another great Hub Ralph. I have some friends, including my ex-wife, who have had Lasik and they are happy with it. Until i read your article I hadn't heard of problems with it other than seeing reports that after a decade or two your vision tends to deteriorate again so I haven't considered it. However, my wife wants to have Lasik surgery, so I am going to suggest she read your Hub first.

Great job. Chuck


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 7 years ago Author

Tnx for the comment. Please make sure your wife knows that I'm not a doctor and have no expertise on eye surgery other than what I've read in published reports.


Roland Hulme 7 years ago

I had LASIK surgery earlier this year and it was the best decision of my life. I went from being VERY short-sighted (unable to see more than a few inches in front of my face) to 20/20 vision practically overnight.

I get very frustrated with the 'horror stories' of LASIK. While there are people who have had TERRIBLE results, the vast majority have great vision and even the 'side effects' some people experience (like halos, flares and night vision problems) are worth it just for being able to SEE for the first time!

After two months, the night glares and halos I experienced disappeared - I can now drive at night quite happily. However, I would gladly keep them if it meant I could still have this quality of vision.

The fact is, LASIK carries fewer life-time risks than contact lens wearing - so it's a cheaper and practical alternative. If you're happy wearing glasses, or your perscription changes, LASIK isn't right for you.

Make an informed decision.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 7 years ago Author

Thanks for sharing your favorable experience!


Ralph Rawls 7 years ago

I had Lasik 7 years ago on 9-11-01, the very morning of that infamous day. The aftermath (of the surgery) for me has been great. I got what is called "single vision" surgery in which one eye is corrected for distant vision (such as driving) and the other for near reading (e.g., reading). Your mind has to sort out which image to "focus" on. I was given soft contacts to wear for a week that simulated the effect, to test whether I was a suitable candidate for single vision. The only problem of consequence that I had was that I kept reaching to adjust my glasses, and pan-icing when I didn't find them on my face. But that went away after a month or so.

My brother in law and a colleague at the University both have done the same and have been well satisfied also.

As to the scary part: I found it a lot easier and much less painful than most dental appointments. Both are similar in that each seats you in a chair, shines a bright light in your face, uses some instruments on you and then sends you on your way with a big bill to pay (the most painful part).

I was 65 when I had the Lasik done and now am 73, and during that time my vision has not changed. I think that I've saved a little bit of money on glasses during that time, as it seems that my vision used to shift enough to need a new Rx every couple of years. Plus there is no wear and tear. The other down side is that my glasses made me look cool and hid my baggy eyes.

On the subject of changing vision/Rx, an opthamologist colleague of mine once told me that wearing glasses actually sets you up for this because it doesn't require your eye muscles to work as hard and they loose some of their tone. There is actually a thearpy for correcting vision based on some sort of eye exercises. My opthamologist colleague recommended it to me and told me that he used it himself. There should be a branch of Bally or Spectrum to tone up our eye muscles along with our abs.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 7 years ago Author

Thanks for the feedback. I thought one of the benefits of lasik is that it makes you look cooler and improves your score with the ladies!

Sometimes I think that the opthalmologist or optometrist find that you need a change in prescription so that they can sell you a new pair of glasses.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 7 years ago Author

A reader's comment from SLATE:

The primary reason for Lasik's decline is not the recession, but problems with the procedure. These affect about 5% of the patients and include dry eye, night blindness, dimmed vision and halos. A very small percentage have had to have corneal transplants to correct the damage.

Unfortunately, even the satisfied 95% are not off the hook. This is because laser surgery weakens the cornea and changes its shape. This complicates matters if one later needs cataract surgery. And most people will need cataract surgery by the time they are 75. This is normally a routine operation with a very high success rate; but not if you previously had laser eye surgery. Because of the change in eye shape, the opthamologist may not be able to obtain an accurate measurement of the correction in the replacement plastic lenses. This can result in poor vision that necessitates repeat surgeries


TheWizardofWhimsy 7 years ago

My eyes are everything to me, as you know Ralph--thanks yet again for this info!

 

SMOOOCH!


jayhill1982 7 years ago

A good sight is a blessing as the very thought of wearing spectacles can be uncomfortable for many of us. Although contact lenses have taken care of this problem to quite an extent, still they come with their own set of disadvantages. A lasik surgery can allow you to see the world much more clearly once again. The surgery can be used to successfully rectify any vision defect like farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism and other eye conditions. http://chicagolasik.us/


Ralph Deeds 7 years ago

Thanks for your comment. I'm glad it worked out well for you.


Kebennett1 profile image

Kebennett1 7 years ago from San Bernardino County, California

My Sister-In-Law, who is a teacher, flew all the way to Florida, to have her Brother-In-Law who is an Ophthalmologist perform her Lasik surgery so she would no longer have to wear glasses. Within 24 hours both of her eyes were infected. They were only able to save one. She filed a law suit against her Brother-In-Law (her husband's brother) to get an Insurance pay off. She now lives with sight in one eye and a glass eye in the other. And yes, she still has to wear glasses! Vanity is not worth it.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 7 years ago Author

We can agree on that. Infection is a risk in any surgery. I wouldn't let anybody touch my eyes unless it was absolutely necessary. Thanks for the comment.


kartika damon profile image

kartika damon 7 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

This is great information. I used to work for a company that sold "eye exercises" as a way to improve vision and promote healthier eyes - one thing I learned was the dangers of lasik surgery - if you are one of the people who suffers dry eye, the halo effect, or the other terrible effects of surgery gone wrong - it can be a nightmare! As usual, excellent work!

Kartika


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Great article Ralph! I can' decide on whether or not to go for it, but not having much money is deciding for me I guess! Thanks for the heads up about Lasek vs. Lasik, if I ever get the bread, I'll start from there!

Ben


gracenotes profile image

gracenotes 6 years ago from North Texas

Lasik is the last thing I'd ever do, frankly. I'm not a "high myope" so I don't see the need. It truly is life-changing for people who are so near-sighted they have to put their glasses on before they get out of bed.

One day a few years ago, I was sitting with my husband at a restaurant, and he was speaking enthusiastically about his upcoming Lasik surgery. Next to us was a lone diner who overheard our conversation, and who revealed that he was in optometry school. He told us that most optometrists don't get Lasik surgery! I thought about it, and the last few optometrists who have examined me have nearly all worn glasses. Something to think about.


Carla 6 years ago

My results with laser treatment speak for themselves. After having worn contact lenses for 20 years, to be free of all the irritation and frustration is incredible. My vision now is better than it was with the lenses. Dr Jeffrey Gold, http://www.libertyvision.net/, and his team are truly experts in their field. I cannot imagine going anywhere else for laser surgery. http://www.libertyvision.net/dr-jeffrey-d-gold.htm...


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

Thanks for commenting on the good results from your laser eye surgery.


lasiksurgerydallas 6 years ago

Must admit the good work and research. Kind of a prevention thing and hope that helps. God bless!


DenverLasikEyeSurgery 6 years ago

Thanks for the good Hub and sharing your ideas....


tabletoptree 6 years ago

Fam member is considering this. Thanks for the info!


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

More than 70,000 children and teens go to the emergency room each year for injuries and complications from medical devices and contact lenses are the leading culprit, the first detailed national estimate suggests.

About one-fourth of the problems were things like infections and eye abrasions in contact lens wearers. These are sometimes preventable and can result from wearing contact lenses too long without cleaning them.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100726/LIFESTYLE0...


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 5 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

After watching your video, my firmless eyeglasses seems to be very fine, although I would like to have normal eyesight again. So I still need to think whether or whether not go to laser surgery one day - video did not encourage me a lot, LOL.

When I was child, I used to read a lot, so my eyes were a bit tired when I got first eyeglasses, that I actually did not need at all. I just needed to rest my eyes. In the following years, every time when I visited Ophthalmologist, he prescribed me stronger lenses then before, so my eyesight was getting worse and worse. I am near-sighted. When I was 16, I finally realized that something was wrong with that method - and when Ophthalmologist decided to prescribe me much stronger glasses again, I just refused to were them and stayed with dyoptry I used to have and continue to use glasses with old dyoptry for next 30 years and my eyesight did not get artificially worse any more. Since then I never visited any Ophthalmologist, when I need new glasses, I just tell to the optician my 30 years old dyoptry.

While wering glassess, eye muscles get adjusted to them, and " lazy" , so new adjustments and corrections are constantly suggested from ophtalmologist, but obviously they are not needed at all. With eyeglasses is just not possible to have completely perfect eyesight - it is just perfect first few weeks, after that eye muscles get lazy again.

Of course, my eyesight improves very much every time when I am long in the nature, or spend a lot of time on the beach (sea air full of minerals and a lot of sunshine and colours of nature improves eyesight), but when I sit a lot next to the computer problems come back again, but now I do not worry any more about that.

.

Thank you very much for your Hub.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago Author

Thanks for your comment!


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago Author

Thanks for your comment. I don't dispute your conclusion. However, I'd like to see a scientific study on the results and risk of complications.


Eric 5 years ago

There's a great interactive LASIK surgery over at www.surgerysquad.com for free if anyone's interested in seeing what happens in the procedure - you get to make the cuts & do the procedure step by step


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago Author

Consumer Reports survey says 55 percent of lasik eye surgery patients still wear glasses or contact lens some of the time. Lasik is not a miracle or fountain of youth.

http://www.tampabay.com/features/consumer/lasik-su...


camdjohnston12 profile image

camdjohnston12 5 years ago

Very interesting hub.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago Author

Thanks for your comment.


nooori 5 years ago

hi my brother has problem with his eyes kaz its something around 4 in numbers and he heard about laser surgery which only takes 10 min can any body please tell me the name of that or more info about that kaz in internet i just found pkr ,lasik and lasek i dont know about any of them so plz guide me thnx


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago Author

Sorry, I can't help you. Suggest your brother consult with the best ophthalmologist heyou can find in your community. Then get a second opinion from another ophthalmologist before anyone starts operating on your brother's eyes. Then he should consider whether good old eyeglasses don't provide everything he really needs.


S Earnest 4 years ago

I am considering about switching to contact lenses for astigmatism or LASIK & I found your article really informative. I am currently doing my research and have been looking at various blogs/ websites to see the positive & negative implications of contact lenses. Your blogs sound advice aside, I have found some useful information on the Vision Express website, they have a 'lenses for lifestyle' section in which you can choose your lenses around lifestyle. http://www.visionexpress.com/contact-lenses/in-sto...


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

Thanks for your comment.


Andrew 4 years ago

I had LASIK surgery 3 years ago in Abbotsford, Canada by a leading eye surgeon there. It has been the worst decision of my life.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

Andrew, thanks for your comment. I'd be interested in why you say having lasik surgery has been the worst decision of your life.


Andrew 4 years ago

I had excellent vision with my glasses before LASIK. I decided to get the surgery so that I could say goodbye to my glasses and enjoy diving and water sports without needing to worry about contact lenses. I went to a very reputable LASIK eye surgeon in Abbotsford, Canada. He assured me that I was an excellent candidate for the procedure and said it was a safe procedure. He quoted me a 5% complication rate, but said most of these were temporary or fixable with further touch up surgery. The surgery cost me $5000. There were 12 other people there that day having the same surgery with this doctor. It gives you an idea of just how profitable this is for the surgeons... Anyway, the day after my surgery, my left eye became blurred and then I developed terrible pain in the eye. I went back to see the surgeon, and he said that the LASIK flap had come off and basically , using a Q-tip pulled the dead piece of cornea off my eye. He glued a contact lens on, to act as a bandage and put me on strong perdnisone drops. To cut a long story short, I developed glaucoma from the prednisone drops. I also developed permanent severe dry eye, blurry vision-ghosting, severe halos that make it very hard for me to drive at night and, the clincher-am back in glasses again because my vision is poor without them. So, after paying the 5K, I am no further ahead glasses wise, but now have permanent eye damage that is unfixable.

When you look at the stats about LASIK on the net, you realize just how many people have been permanently scarred by this procedure. It is far from safe, despite what people (and LASIK surgeons) may tell you. My advice is, if you have good vision with your glasses or contacts, do not even think about LASIK...you have far too much to lose!


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

Andrew, thanks much for describing your unfortunate experience. My sister and one of my brothers had very bad experiences with cataract surgery. This tells me that eye surgery is serious business and can result in adverse consequences.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 4 years ago from Austin, Texas

I had Lasik surgery back in the 1990's and I considered it a miracle at the time and still do. Stephen Dell (Michael Dell's brother!) performed the surgery and it was smooth sailing. It was funny though because right before I went in they handed me a small toy teddy bear. I asked, "What's this for?" They said I might want to be holding something during the procedure. Sure enough as they had me down working my eye I suddenly realized I was squeezing the life out of the poor little bear... they were right about that....


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

Thanks for your positive comment. I'm looking forward to cataract surgery so it's good to hear about good results from eye surgery. I've heard there are a couple of types of cataract surgery--with lenses that correct distance vision but require the use of reading glasses or with higher tech lenses which correct distance and reading vision without the need for glasses. Comments welcome on this issue.


bobs optical profile image

bobs optical 4 years ago from Keswick

What I usually tell my patients who are thinking about Lasik is that I recommend not going to an ophthalmologist directly involved or tied in with a laser clinic. And maybe getting a second opinion if you still have concerns.I think an independent Dr is more likely to tell you the way it is rather than push you through without all the facts coming to the surface.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

Thanks a lot for your comment. It's good to hear from a professional. My wife is considering cataract surgery and is agonizing over what type of lenses to have. Any thoughts on that??


Easeclue profile image

Easeclue 3 years ago from Chandigarh

they are providing good services of..I am really impress with that.

we are also providing very good services of eye surgery services.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 3 years ago Author

Thanks for your comment.

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