Posted on December 10, 2017
As ophthalmologists, one of the most frequently asked questions we encounter when discussing LASIK is Will I Go Blind From LASIK. And as a clinician, we struggle to explain to you the logistics of the fact for which there are no statistics. Blindness from LASIK is so rare that despite the fact that millions of LASIK procedures have been performed all over the world, there are no statistics available for post LASIK blindness.
Estimates put it to one in five million, which is a remarkable proof of both, its high levels of safety and effectiveness. Just for comparison, your risk for getting hit by lightning during your lifetime varies from 1 in 12000 to 1 in 15000, depending on where you live.
So the answer to the LASIK blindness question is actually quite simple: It is extremely unusual for anyone to go blind from LASIK — especially if you choose your doctor well, follow his or her instructions, and attend all follow-up visits. Realistically, you have a risk of eye related complications, not necessarily blindness, from LASIK which is about as much as from using contact lenses, even though there are no statistics to compare the two.
That said, one most realise that LASIK is a surgery, and like all surgeries, is not free from side effects and possible complications. The most frequently reported complications after LASIK are dry eyes, halos, glare and other disturbances of vision. People have also reported under or over correction of the existing refractive error, and also long term decrease in the effect of LASIK called regression, all of which can usually be managed by a secondary procedure, if significant. More severe complications, including significant vision loss which may be due to infection, or complications of steroid use, are possible but uncommon.
So, what can you do to achieve optimal results, with the greatest safety following surgery for vision correction? The answer is simpler still. Choose your LASIK surgeon with care, and listen, very carefully to his or her advice. Make sure you go to a surgeon who is experienced, and that he or she is operating in an operation theatre of repute.
Finding the cheapest deal for LASIK in terms of pricing may not always be a good idea, but talking to patients who have had the procedure before, always is.
Once you’ve decided on a surgeon, feel free to participate in a discussion regarding what is the best possible option for better vision without glasses, for YOUR eyes. Ask questions till all your doubts are taken care of, and you have complete confidence in the surgeon’s abilities to handle your concerns and your apprehensions. During your preoperative evaluation, your ophthalmologist will make sure you are eligible for LASIK by checking the shape and thickness of your cornea, so that the risk of a possible protrusion of the cornea due to weakening is completely mitigated. And once you have built a rapport with the doctor who will provide you freedom from glasses, follow his or her advice to the letter. About preoperative evaluation, medication use as well as subsequent follow up visits.
Surgery in the hands of an expert surgeon using the best technology is safe, and effective. If you follow instructions for medications and follow up, the chances of any significant vision loss, let alone blindness, are almost negligible.
Even in case of a complication like an infection, flap dislocation or glaucoma (the incidence of all of these is rare, but they are all known complications of the surgery) as long as you adhere to the treatment and follow up protocol prescribed by your doctor, the chances of vision loss are extremely rare.
In case, your doctor decides that you are not eligible for LASIK, because the procedure carries a risk, he or she will explain to you the reasons for the same. The doctor will also, usually, offer you an alternative to LASIK like Intralase, SMILE and ICL. These new available technologies have enable ophthalmologists to offer a safe and efficacious option for spectacle removal even to those patients who are not fit for LASIK.
Remember, any surgery or tool is as safe as the hand that wields it, and it is as effective as its operator. Freedom from glasses can be a reality, and you should not let anxiety impair your quality of life. You can go ahead with LASIK free from the fear of blindness, but only after your apprehensions and concerns have been addressed by a proper preoperative evaluation and consultation.