Getting the Full Picture About Lasik Eye Surgery

If your eyes are the windows to the soul, then Lasik eye surgery is becoming an ever-popular way of making the view less blurry.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, since Lasik eye surgery was approved in 1995, laser eye centers have mushroomed from 300 in 1996 to more than 900 centers today. Five years from now, the FTC said, surgeons are expected to perform laser eye surgery on more than 3 million pairs of eyes.

Dr. Dan Beers, who performs LASIK vision correction with the Peninsula Laser Vision Medical Group, located in Mountain View, said, “The key is for potential patients to talk with their doctors about (the doctor’s) level of experience and to speak with a former patient of the doctor they are considering.”

Laser eye surgery is a delicate procedure, Beers said, involving the cornea, “which is responsible for bending light that enters the eye and focusing it on the retina.” In people whose cornea is too steep or too flat, the image becomes blurry, Beers said.

“Laser eye surgery reshapes the cornea,” Beers said, “by using a Microkeratome, or a blade device, to remove a flap from the top of the cornea.” Then, a laser is used to reshape the cornea and the flap is repositioned in place. “This method allows the top layer of cells in the cornea to remain intact, and speeds recovery,” Beers said.

The surgery is out-patient, Beers said, and the patient is asked to rest on the first night, using antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops every two hours. Beers said that “within 12 hours, the vision should be clear.”

Although Beers said the risks are few, patients should be knowledgeable as to what to expect. For instance, Lasik eye surgery doesn’t always result in 20/20 vision. “Though it is unusual,” Beers said, “the surgery may not provide all patients with as good a vision as they had with glasses or contacts.”

Also, if the patient has large pupils, which dilate excessively late at night, then the patient might “see glares or halos at night, after the surgery,” Beers said. In addition, “in one out of every 1,000 or 2,000 patients, the flap of the cornea is not perfectly cut, and is irregular, at which point (the surgery) cannot proceed,” Beers said.

Of course, as with any surgery, there is a risk of infection, but Beers said that to mitigate this problem, “antibiotic drops are used before, during and after the procedure.”

Ultimately, Beers said, there is a 95 percent success rate for attaining 20/20 vision, which is even higher with a procedure called “enhancement.” The enhancement is used to fine-tune the patient’s vision and involves lifting the flap again six weeks after the original procedure.

Beers said that careful and precise measurements can lower the need for enhancement. Before the surgery, Beers said, “patients should make certain that the doctor is taking the measurements and not a technician.”

Even with all these possible risks and side effects, Beers said, “in the more than 2,000 patients that I have treated, no one has regretted having the procedure done.”

For more information on Lasik eye surgery, call (877) FTC-HELP or visit

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