been almost 20 years since the advent of widespread use of Lasik
surgery to correct near- and farsightedness.
formally "laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis" and
commonly referred to as laser eye surgery or laser vision correction
ó is a type of refractive surgery for the correction of
nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Those with
nearsightedness tend to benefit the most, provided their eyes are
stable; that is, they are done changing.
How has the
surgery changed, and is it still as popular as it once was? Dr. Amber
Dentz, a doctor of optometry and owner of Lake Country Eye Care in
Hartland, says the most significant change over the last two decades
is the use of a laser ó rather than a blade ó to make the corneal
flap central to the success of the surgery. "Also, the newer
lasers are more sterile than before," she adds. "And the
research and technology have gotten better."
Dentz says the
surgery was more of a novelty the first five years after the procedure
was introduced and is not quite as prevalent as it used to be.
"But it remains a popular alternative for some people," she
says. For a while, she says, "everyone was doing it," but
the fly-by-nights and less reputable companies performing the surgery
were weeded out, leaving the seasoned and established medical
The best time to
have the surgery is between 25 and 30 years of age, after changes in
the eye have slowed considerably. The exception may be for women in
child-bearing years ó itís recommended that surgery be postponed
until after a woman is finished having children, as changes in the eye
caused by pregnancy can occur.
The surgery is
performed in the surgeonís office on an outpatient basis, and most
patients are able to go home without using their glasses. The healing
process is normally 18 to 24 hours, and during a post-op appointment
the next day, many patients test at 20/20 vision. But how long does
the corrective procedure last? According to Dentz, thatís impossible
to predict. Each individualís eyes change at different rates, she
says, but most who have the surgery will eventually need reading
glasses as they get
Dentz does not
perform the surgery herself, but she is active with patients pre-op
and post-op. She urges those considering the surgery to find a surgeon
who uses a laser rather than a blade. "I would not recommend a
surgeon that still used the blade," she says. "Most good
surgeons are constantly updating." Also, look for a surgeon who
has been doing the procedure for a long time. "You donít want
someone who dabbles in Lasik surgery," Dentz says. She also
stressed the importance of an established surgeon who will be there
for follow-up, if needed.
has always been ó and still is ó considered cosmetic in the eyes
of insurance carriers. Therefore, the cost is borne by the patient.
Dentz estimates a start-to-finish cost of around $4,000 for