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LASIK Myths: Debunking 13 Common Misconceptions

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Less than 1 percent of LASIK procedures result in a serious complication. The vast majority of surgeries are successful, resulting in permanent vision correction and a reduction in reliance on glasses or contacts. But internet searches could lead you to a different conclusion.

LASIK myths are common. People may tell you the surgery isn’t safe, can only correct nearsightedness, can cause blindness, and more. These misconceptions could keep you from getting life-changing help for your vision. 

These are the 13 most common myths we’ve heard from prospective patients, along with the truth about LASIK and how it can help.

The Importance of Understanding Misconceptions About LASIK

It’s easy to spread lies and myths about LASIK. With a few keyboard taps, anyone can write an article that seems official but is filled with misunderstandings. Separating fact from fiction is important. 

Misinformation can waste your time and resources. You might find yourself spending hours tracking down the source of a myth, which is time that could be spent finding a qualified surgeon. And myths can make you distrust the very experts you need to adjust your vision and improve your life. 

Here are the basic facts you should know:

  • LASIK is a permanent visual corrective surgery performed with lasers. 
  • Doctors create a small flap that lifts to reveal lower corneal tissues, and lasers reshape the cornea. The flap is replaced and allowed to heal. 
  • LASIK surgery is an effective solution for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. 
  • You must be older than 18 with a stable prescription to qualify.

If you have questions about what LASIK is and how it works, talk to a surgeon. These eye professionals know about how the procedure works, and they can alleviate your concerns, share their success rates, and assess your potential for a good surgical outcome.

Common LASIK Myths & Misconceptions

These are common misunderstandings we’ve heard from prospective patients who are considering LASIK eye surgery. We’ve included detailed information about each myth, so you’ll know what to say if you encounter these misunderstandings in the future.

man and daughter holding kite

Myth 1: LASIK Is Painful

Surgeons use numbing eye drops to block pain signals during surgery, ensuring that LASIK is virtually pain free. You may feel mildly uncomfortable, as doctors use tools to keep your eyelids open and your corneal tissues flat, but the experience isn’t painful. 

Similarly, pain after LASIK is very rare. Researchers say just 1 in 900 LASIK surgeries result in pain, and most people with that issue have underlying conditions (such as autoimmune disease, hypothyroidism, or functional pain syndromes) that play a role. 

If you have underlying health conditions, talk with your doctor before surgery about your risk of pain during recovery. That’s the best way to ensure you feel no discomfort later.

Myth 2: LASIK Is Unsafe

LASIK is one of the safest and most studied elective procedures performed worldwide. 

In a large study performed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, researchers found that less than 1 percent of patients had a lot of difficulty with vision after LASIK, and more than 95 percent were satisfied with their vision following surgery. Other studies have found the same.

Safety procedures built into the LASIK process ensure a good outcome. Doctors confirm you’re a good candidate before surgery, map your eye carefully, and use sophisticated and tested lasers during the procedure. Your risk of lasting problems is very low.

LASIK is incredibly effective: 99 percent of patients achieve better than 20/40 vision after surgery, and more than 90 percent achieve 20/20 or better vision.

Myth 3: The LASIK Flap Never Heals

During LASIK, doctors create a tiny flap within the cornea. They flip up this flap, exposing deeper tissues. The flap is then replaced, covering the surgical site entirely. In most cases the flap is healed in three months.

Corneal tissues heal very quickly. Researchers say flap complications reported in the literature range from 0.16 to 15 percent. Using precise lasers makes a difference, as these tools make very tiny and thin flaps that heal quickly. As technology improves, flap complications should become even rarer.

The entire epithelium of your eye is replaced in just 7 to 10 days. Corneal tissues heal very quickly, as will the flap created by LASIK.

Myth 4: LASIK Can Only Correct Nearsightedness

LASIK is a refractive surgery approved for myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. Other ocular surgeries (such as SMILE) are designed to treat just one kind of vision problem. LASIK is incredibly versatile, and doctors can use it to address many common problems that keep you from clear, crisp vision.

Myth 5: LASIK Results Are Not Permanent & Wear Off After a Few Years

Questions about how long LASIK lasts are common, and they’re slightly confusing to surgeons. During your LASIK surgery, doctors permanently alter the shape and thickness of your cornea. The tissues that are removed never grow back, so the surgery can’t wear off or fade away. 

While LASIK’s changes are permanent, the surgery can’t keep your eye from changing. Age-related vision changes such as presbyopia are both common and unavoidable, and 96 percent of people with the condition must make adjustments (like using reading glasses) to see objects close up. 

If you develop age-related vision issues after LASIK, your surgery isn’t wearing off. Instead, your eyes are changing as expected as you grow older.

Between 1 and 5 percent of people need an enhancement after LASIK to achieve their vision goals. Their surgeries didn’t wear off, but they can’t see as clearly as they’d like months later. Many surgeons offer these procedures to help their patients see clearly after their eyes have healed from the first LASIK.

NVISION’s Lifetime Commitment is our promise to you. We stand behind your LASIK vision correction results for life. Find out how it works and how it sets us apart.

Myth 6: LASIK Can Cause Blindness

There’s never been a documented case of blindness in which LASIK was the primary cause. Experts say the fear of going blind after LASIK is simply irrational, as no such cases exist. Still, this myth persists and likely keeps people from getting the help they need.

Myth 7: LASIK Recovery Is Lengthy & Difficult

Recovering from LASIK is quick and easy. Immediately after surgery, your eyes begin to heal. Most people can return to work and driving within a day or two of the procedure, says the American Academy of Ophthalmology. 

Some people experience mild discomfort, including dryness and itching, during the healing process. Everyone should expect regular checkups with their doctors to ensure they’re doing well. But long periods of feeling sick or unable to work aren’t expected.

Myth 8: LASIK Is Expensive

LASIK costs an average of about $2,600 per eye in the United States. The cost of LASIK is a one-time expense that amends your vision permanently. You won’t need to spend hundreds on glasses, contacts, solutions, and other vision solutions. Some people find they save money after LASIK. 

Financing options can make LASIK’s costs lower and easier to fit within your budget. And you can use HSA and FSA funds to cover the costs too.

The average cost of frames and single vision lenses is about $300. Most people need a new set every two years. You may need another set with sun protection. If you break your lenses, you’ll need another set. LASIK could save you money in the long term.

Myth 9: LASIK Requires a Long Hospital Stay

LASIK is an outpatient surgery that’s completed within about 30 minutes. You don’t need to stay in a hospital for around-the-clock monitoring after LASIK. You’ll go home the same day, and you’ll check in with your doctor the next day.

Myth 10: All LASIK Providers Are the Same

More than 6,000 ophthalmic surgeons offer LASIK to patients in more than 1,000 centers. While all of them provide a similar procedure, it’s important to choose a qualified practitioner rather than picking the one that offers the lowest price. 

Your insurance coverage could dictate your choice. Some discount plans require you to work with someone they’ve connected with. 
But differences between LASIK surgeons can also involve technology used, success rates expected, and more. Be sure to ask plenty of questions and make an informed choice.

Myth 11: LASIK Has a High Risk of Complications & Side Effects

Complications from LASIK are very rare. Fewer than 1 percent of procedures come with serious side effects. 

Some people feel itching or burning sensations after the surgery, and others have blurred vision. These temporary side effects tend to fade as the eyes heal. Eye drops can help with both issues, along with rest.

Myth 12: Contact Lenses Are Safer Than LASIK

More than 45 million people wear contact lenses, and some believe these lenses are safer than LASIK. This isn’t true. 

Common complications associated with contact lenses include dry eye, infections, abrasions, and corneal abrasions. Some of these problems are serious and can steal your vision. 

LASIK is a surgical procedure that can cause discomfort as your eyes heal. But it’s not associated with infections and abrasions like contact lenses are. Some people find it’s safer than wearing contacts.

Myth 13: Doctors Use LASIK on Everyone

Doctors use detailed examinations before LASIK surgery. They check your vision, corneal thickness, tear production, pupil size, and more. At the end of this examination, you’ll know if you’re a good candidate for LASIK

If you’re not a good candidate, your doctor can discuss other options to help you see clearly. Together, you’ll find a way forward that makes the most sense for your eyes and your vision goals.

References

  1. LASIK Complications and LASIK Side Effects: Key Takeaways. (October 2017). Refractive Surgery Council.
  2. Neuropathic Corneal Pain Following LASIK Surgery: A Retrospective Case Series. (June 2021). Ophthalmology and Therapy.
  3. LASIK Quality of Life Collaboration Project. (June 2021). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  4. What Is the LASIK Success Rate? (August 2022). Refractive Surgery Council.
  5. LASIK: Laser Eye Surgery. (November 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
  6. Presbyopia: A Natural Part of Aging, or a Frustrating Daily Challenge? (April 2021). Ophthalmology Times.
  7. LASIK Enhancements: LASIK Touchup Facts. (August 2022). Refractive Surgery Council.
  8. LASIK Complications and LASIK Eye Surgery Risks. (October 2022). Refractive Surgery Council.
  9. Laser Surgery Recovery. (April 2023). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
  10. The 25th Anniversary of Laser Vision Correction in the United States. (March 2021). Clinical Ophthalmology.
  11. Average Cost of Frames and Single-Vision Lenses in the United States as of 2019. (November 2021). Statista.
  12. What Should I Expect Before, During, and After Surgery? (July 2018). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  13. Complications of Contact Lenses. (May 2021). JAMA.
  14. A Review of LASIK Flap Complications. (April 2012). CRST Global.
  15. The Ins and Outs of Corneal Wound Healing. (April 2016) Review of Optometry.
  16. Functional Outcome and Patient Satisfaction After Laser In Situ Keratomileusis for Correction of Myopia and Myopic Astigmatism. (January–March 2015). Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology.
  17. Predictive Factors for Efficacy and Safety in Refractive Surgery for Myopia. (December 2018). PLOS ONE.
  18. Clinical Guidelines: Identifying LASIK Candidates. (September 2020). CRST Global.

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