Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Vision-correction surgery?

If you wear glasses, have you considered undergoing laser surgery? I know it’s very popular and I know that people who have had it are very pleased with the results, but I just can’t bring myself to consider it.

The article Surgical errors rare but serious in ophthalmic procedures is more about other types of eye surgeries, but it’s precisely why I’m uncomfortable about laser surgery for the eyes, unless it is really a quality of life issue. My eyes are the only set I have. If anything goes wrong, what do I have?

Do I wish I didn’t have to wear glasses? Absolutely. It is a pain in the neck, but there are worse things that I could have to do. I just can’t take the risk of being one of the few people who have a bad outcome from the procedures.

In all fairness, bad outcomes are rare. According to allaboutvision.com, the serious complication rate is below 1% with carefully selected patients. That means that the surgeon must be careful in ruling out any patient who appears to be at risk for complications. As well, the more experienced the surgeon, usually the lower the complication rate.

Of course, this type of surgery also only corrects distance vision and not other problems – so even if someone wants to have the surgery, is confident about the outcome, and ready for the surgery – they may be refused or they may have the surgery with the caveat that they will still need glasses for the visual problems that aren’t corrected surgically.

It’s a very personal choice – but if it is one you are making, be sure to make the right choice of surgeon and clinic. Don’t be swayed by advertising – it’s the doctors’ abilities, re-education and on-going training, and manner that count. A doctor who is associated with a university, teaching hospital, or somehow involved in research is more likely to be up-to-date on the newest technologies and issues. If you’re not sure where to start, your optometrist or ophthalmologist may be able to give you some recommendations. Just because a doctor is recommended doesn’t mean you should take that at face value though; you still need to do your due diligence. You can also get names from the licensing boards of your country/province/state, for a place to start.

Once you find a surgeon, you need to ask some questions to help you make your decisions. You should know how long the doctor has been doing the surgery. Beware of claims that go back longer than the surgery exists! How many procedures has he/she done? Does he or she do them themself or do they have other surgeons working with them/for them? How many of their patients achieve a visual acuity of at least 20/40? 20/20? Can you get references from patients?

Don’t forget, you can always get a second opinion. Take your time to get the right information before making the decision.

News for Today:

Brain matures slower in kids with ADD, researchers say
Omega-3s, fruit, veggies lower risk of dementia
MRSA germ undermines body's defences
Correcting poor vision in nursing home residents may decrease symptoms of depression
Program of exercise and education improves function and symptoms in women with fibromyalgia


Dawn said...

I have to wear glasses for driving and have always thought the same as you - no way would I let anyone near my eyes with a laser.

Then, about a year ago, I had a detached retina and ended up having to have laser surgery anway!

Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

Hi Dawn, detached retinas are scary; I take the surgery was successful? I hope so.