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You want to be a savvy consumer, so you're doing some LASIK homework. But you've run into contradictory information. And some of the things you've read made you fearful of having surgery at all.
There's a lot of misinformation available online concerning LASIK surgery. Don't be swayed by fiction.
We've highlighted some of the most common myths concerning this surgical procedure, and we'll help to set the record straight.
Myth 1: LASIK is risky.
Bloggers blur the line between surgical complications (which can be transient) and surgical errors (which can be permanent). While it's true that some people experience discomfort and vision changes in the weeks after LASIK, few have long-lasting problems.
In fact, experts say less than 1 percent of people who have LASIK experience surgical complications.
Myth 2: LASIK always hurts.
LASIK is a surgical procedure. The surface of your eye will be cut, and experts say it's common to feel a little discomfort as your eyes recover. But when the pain lingers for days, it's a sign of a problem.
Your doctor can use eyedrops and other tools to help it fade. Long-lasting pain is just not expected with LASIK.
Myth 3: You will never need glasses after LASIK.
LASIK is an effective tool in the fight against poor vision. After surgery, you'll experience a dramatic increase in what you can see without glasses or contact lenses.
Most people have 20/25 vision or better after LASIK, experts say. But you might need glasses for reading or driving at night. The surgery can't prevent vision problems that come with aging.
Myth 4: LASIK is right for everyone.
LASIK is an effective and safe surgery for people with vision deficiencies. But some eyes aren't healthy enough for surgery. Common medical conditions can also make you a less-than-ideal patient.
Your doctor might recommend another solution if you have:
- A strong prescription that falls outside the treatable range.
- Thin corneas.
- Naturally large pupils.
- A health issue, such as uncontrolled diabetes.
- Dry eyes.
Myth 5: Contacts are safer than LASIK.
You don't want to wear glasses, but you're not sure if surgery is right for you. Contacts are another option, but they're not automatically safer than LASIK.
To use contacts properly, you must follow your doctor's instructions to the letter. Experts say up to 90 percent of contact lens wearers don't do that. If you fall into that range, you could expose your eye to bacteria. That could lead to sight-stealing infections.
Myth 6: LASIK can make you go blind.
Doctors use precise, calibrated equipment to cut your corneas during a LASIK procedure. There are no confirmed reports of persistent blindness after a surgery like this.
Myth 7: LASIK is only for nearsighted people.
LASIK can be used to treat almost every kind of vision problem, including farsightedness and astigmatism. Your doctor will conduct a complete vision check before your surgery begins to understand how to reshape your eyes for the best results.
Myth 8: You must have a strong prescription to use LASIK.
It's true that deep vision distortions are hard to ignore. Many people with significant prescriptions ask their doctors to help with LASIK. But even small vision problems can be addressed with LASIK.
In fact, people with very strong prescriptions aren't good candidates for this surgery. If your hyperopia measurement is larger than 6 diopters, or your nearsightedness measurement is greater than -12 diopters, your doctor may suggest another solution, experts say.
Myth 9: LASIK is a new and untested procedure.
The first eye sculpting procedures were performed in the 1940s, researchers say, and the LASIK surgery as we know it was developed in the 1990s. Millions of Americans have been through this procedure.
There's no need to wait to see if doctors can further enhance their knowledge or technique.
Myth 10: LASIK is more expensive than glasses or contact lenses.
LASIK can cause sticker shock. You can expect to pay up to $2,500 per eye, experts say.
But remember that glasses and contact lenses come with maintenance fees. You'll need new pairs frequently. You might also need special solutions and cases to care for them.
All of those little bills add up. Over time, they can total more than you'll pay for one round of LASIK.
LASIK Complication Rate: The Latest Facts and Stats You Should Know. (October 2017). American Refractive Surgery Council.
What Should I Expect Before, During, and After Surgery? (July 2018). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
LASIK Surgery: Is It Right for You? (April 2019). Mayo Clinic.
Focusing on Contact Lens Safety. (August 2017). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Does My Eyeglass Prescription Qualify for LASIK? (February 2017). American Refractive Surgery Council.
The History of LASIK. (April 2012). Journal of Refractive Surgery.
Contacts vs. LASIK: Costs, Risks, and More. Care Credit.