BY NATALIE WINTERS
Traditionally, those with imperfect vision had to two choices: glasses or contacts. Advancements in technology, however, have allowed for a new, lens-free option for some through refractive, or laser eye surgery.
There are many different types of surgeries to improve vision, a number of them being done by reshaping the cornea; others involve replacing the eye’s natural lens.
“I think it’s becoming more and more popular because people are not wanting to deal with contact lenses, and I know for me personally—glasses,” said Abi Parker, LASIK coordinator for Turlock Family Vision. “That’s why I eventually want to do it.”
LASIK (Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) is the most common form of laser eye surgery and is used to correct refractive errors (how your eye focuses light) for people who are nearsighted, farsighted and/or have astigmatism.
Only about 35 percent of all adults have 20/20 vision without glasses, contact lenses or corrective surgery according to uihealthcare.org.
The process of LASIK is done by lifting a thin layer of the cornea, a laser reshapes the exposed cornea and then the flap is replaced to its original position. With this is mind, not everyone is a candidate for LASIK eye surgery and patients may be disqualified from the treatment for a number of different reasons.
Having thin corneas could disqualifies someone from having LASIK eye surgery as their corneal thickness is vital to the procedure.
“There are a lot of options out there but we recommend all laser procedures because it’s more of a custom for each person,” said Parker. “For someone with thin corneas, LASEK is usually the best alternative with the discretion of the doctor.”
LASEK (Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis) is not a spelling error of LASIK—it is an alternative surgery that allows for someone who has thin corneas to have the visual eye correction because there is no corneal flap lifted during the surgery. LASEK is known as a surface procedure.
Regardless, all forms of laser eye surgery come with a price.
The average LASIK eye surgery cost roughly $2,073 per eye in 2014. Before getting laser eye surgery, be sure to ask about all fees related to the procedure including follow-up visits and additional post-op care.
You only get one pair of eyes; laser eye surgery may be a investment worth pursuing.
“For me, I realized that updating my glasses and getting updated contact lenses every year is a cost that definitely adds up,” said Parker. “If you do the comparison about how much money you’re going to be spending and that sort of thing—it’s pretty comparable to getting the surgery.”
Laser eye surgeries have excellent safety profiles and very high success rates. Side effects or complications that do come with LASIK surgery are rare and can mostly be resolved with additional surgery or medical treatment. Be sure to ask about all the risks before agreeing to surgery.
The best way to find a good laser eye surgeon is to talk to your optometrist about the procedure and ask for a recommendation.