Q: Should I get laser eye surgery?

A: Whether or not you should have elective surgery on your eyes is an impossible question to answer in a forum because your individual eyes are unique and your vision demands are so variable. Only after a comprehensive examination from a knowledgeable doctor could you know if you are a candidate. There are, however, many issues that you can consider even before an exam.

What do you expect? The obvious is vision after laser eye surgery the same as vision before, but without glasses. Except people place a lot more importance on wearing glasses than just vision correction. If you think you will start getting picked up in night clubs, your mother-in-law will exclaim you are the best thing to happen to her child, and your boss will suddenly promote you to the corner office, you are probably going to be disappointed with laser eye surgery. Your expectations are key to the success or failure of Lasik, PRK, LASEK, or Epi-Lasik.

The USAEyes CORE patient survey is our organization’s primary tool for the evaluation of surgeons who seek patient outcome certification. We send the USAEyes CORE survey to a vision correction patients and compare the responses to the doctor’s peers. Of the patients surveyed:

99% report quality of life as expected, better, or much better
98% day vision as expected, better, or much better
98% no complications or issues are seldom problematic
98% would recommend surgery to family and friends.
97% would have surgery again, knowing what they know now
96% wear corrective lenses as often as expected, less, or much less than expected
96% report postop vision without lenses as expected, better, or much better than expected when compared to preop vision with lenses
96% report overall quality of vision as expected, better, or much better than expected
91% no complications at any time
91% night vision as expected, better, or much better
7% complications seldom problematic
– 91% would have surgery again
2% complications frequent or always problematic
– 22% would have surgery again

You may notice there is no mention of night clubs, mother-in-laws, or bosses.

There are a gazillion things that can go wrong in laser eye surgery…just like there are a gazillion things that can harm you every day

* You can die. To date, no deaths have been reported as a direct consequence from the most common refractive surgery techniques, but you could be the first.
* Lose visual acuity to the point of function blindness.
* Inability to drive at night due to blinding halos and/or starbursts emanating from light sources.
* Visual acuity worse than before surgery.
* Continuous fluctuation of visual acuity.
* Inability to correct visual acuity even with glasses.
* Overcorrection, undercorrection.
* The inability to wear contacts.
* Ocular infection and subsequent damage.

The list goes on and on, but the focus should be on the *probability* of something going wrong, not on the *possibility*. A gazillion things can harm you every day, but you tend to survive each day just fine.

The probability of the outcome you want directly relates to your expectations and the physical properties of your vision. If you have 12.00 diopters of myopia (nearsighted, shortsighted) you are less likely to achieve perfect vision in one surgery than if you are a 4.00 diopter myope. If you are hyperopic (farsighted, longsighted) you are less likely to have an immediate excellent result than if you are myopic. Astigmatism complicates matters. Disease can cause unexpected reactions.

Until you are appropriately evaluated, it is anybody’s guess what result you will receive. One thing is for certain, of the people who have had laser eye surgery; the vast majority are satisfied with the result.