Do eye problems really return after LASIK?
() - April 23, 2009 - 12:00am

"Have eyesight problems, will LASIK."

This seems to be the buzzword as LASIK’s popularity increases. Many believe that LASIK is the modern-day panacea for all refractive errors and that it can easily restore many lost 20/20 vision.

Unfortunately, myths about LASIK multiply as fast as the number of its patients and the proliferation of clinics that offer such service.

What is LASIK?

LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis and is a procedure that permanently changes the shape of the cornea, the clear covering of the front of the eye, using an excimer laser. It is a surgery for correcting myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.


Myths about LASIK abound — engendered by the glowing testimonials of its patients and the assumptions of spellbound people who have not known a heretofore easy way out of their poor eyesight.

People think that high-tech lasers do all the work so that excellent surgical outcomes are a given. Many believe that, given the same machine, the only difference between surgeons and refractive surgery centers is the cost. A number of advertising pitches even mislead people to presume that laser vision correction will solve all refractive errors.

“Not everyone who has refractive error problems can have LASIK. Patients should first undergo a thorough screening and evaluation by a qualified ophthalmologist. It is not only the “grade” of his eyes that matter, but also the thickness of the cornea,  the size of the pupil, and other eye conditions that are onsidered. Getting a solid understanding of one’s eligibility and of the procedure itself helps a lot.” said St. Luke’s Vision Laser Center head Dr. Winston Valentine L. Villar.

Dr. Villar stressed that, aside from the laser machine, other factors such as the skill of the surgeon, the competence of the staff and the safety features of the environment where the operation takes place also count in ensuring the success of LASIK.  

He debunked common notion that refractive errors or “grades” could go back to its pre-Lasik state , or worse, make eyesight problems worse.

“The effect of LASIK is permanent.  However, the procedure does not prevent age-related eye regression, so it is not right to think that when their vision tapers off years after having LASIK, it was due to the failure of the procedure,” stressed Dr. Villar.

Dr. Villar also outlined several myths about LASIK:

1. Myth # 1: All lasers are the same.

Fact: Each laser used in laser vision correction has its own strengths. Certain lasers, as well as ancillary equipment, however, offer significant advantages over other systems. This is one of the reasons cost of treatment can vary.

 2. Myth # 2: Laser vision correction removes the need for reading glasses.

A "mono-vision" treatment can reduce the dependency on reading glasses after the age of 40 if you are an appropriate candidate. However, most patients after this age use reading glasses.

3. Myth # 3: LASIK is a painful procedure.

Fact: Many are afraid they will experience pain since the procedure is performed while they are fully conscious. Patients may feel some pressure at one point of the surgery. However, enough numbing drops are applied to the eyes before the surgery begins and a mild sedative can be given to patients to ensure that they remain comfortable during the procedure. These steps help  make the LASIK process relatively pain free.

4. Myth # 4: I could lose my vision from a LASIK procedure.

Fact: Some patients think they may lose their vision after a LASIK procedure. For ideal candidates, LASIK is a very safe procedure. Determining your individual candidacy is an extremely important step prior to proceeding with LASIK. In fact, in this day and age, the risk of any complication after the  procedure is less than one half of 1 percent.

5. Myth: LASIK does not correct astigmatism.

Fact: With today's LASIK eye surgery technology, astigmatism is effectively treated by LASIK. There are some very rare, extremely high astigmatic patients beyond the ability of current technology. However, Lasik can be combined with other methods to address this condition. The St. Luke’s Vision Laser Center is a comprehensive refractive surgery center committed to provide you with the best possible visual results.

6. Myth: Having a LASIK procedure will require a long recovery time.

Fact: Following the LASIK procedure, patients can expect a short recovery period. Most patients are able to return to work and resume their daily activities the very next day after the procedure. The vast majority of patients can drive themselves to their 1-day follow-up appointment. There is usually little to no postoperative discomfort after the LASIK procedure and follow-up exams during recovery are requested to ensure that your eyes heal properly.

7. Myth: Patients fear that they will not be able to keep their eyes perfectly still during the procedure.

Fact: The procedure does require a certain degree of cooperation from patients. They should be able to focus at a fixation light and keep their body still.  The good news is that there are systems in place to ensure patients’ eye movements do not adversely affect the outcome of their procedures. Advanced tracking systems account for any eye movement a patient may have during a procedure. An instrument is used as well to keep the eye open and prevent the patient from blinking during the procedure.

8. Myth: Laser vision correction is not really surgery.

Fact: Laser vision correction is one of the most delicate surgeries known. Surgical skills as well as excellent pre- and post-operative care enhance your chance for an excellent result.

9. Myth: Once our eyes are treated, the “grade” will never change.

Fact: Once your eyes are treated the “grade” can still change although they rarely revert back to where they started. We generally look for a stable eyeglass prescription prior to performing LASIK to ensure there will be little change in the years to come. Enhancements or a retreatment can be performed if appropriate conditions are met.

10. Myth: The cheapest surgery is no different than the most expensive one.

Fact:  The old adage, "You get what you pay for," applies to laser vision correction. People should always remember that, since they only have one set of them, eye care should never be compromised. A good laser center should provide adequate pre-op information, must have the right tools to carry out a thorough evaluation, qualified refractive surgeons, and a competent team to perform the procedure and see you through the post operative care of your eyes. Patients should be discerning in comparing and considering equivalent care and experience during their research. Often the more expensive procedures include added benefits that discounters do not offer. These added benefits can include quality assurance checks like JCI accreditation, lifetime commitments and follow-up care with your personal eye doctor.

Myths thrive when there is insufficient information. Fear also persists in the unknown. This is especially true among people who are considering a LASIK procedure. The truth is, the advancements in tech-nology have enabled millions of patients to achieve visual freedom through LASIK and enjoy a life without contacts and glasses.

For more information about vision problems and other eye concerns, please contact the St. Luke’s Vision Laser Center at direct lines (632) 7222965, 7275459 or at trunkline (632) 723-0101 ext. 5459 and 4142. St. Luke’s Vision Laser Center is the only refractive eye center in the country set in a hospital accredited twice by the Joint Commission International (JCI), the world’s most prestigious healthcare-accreditation organization.  

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