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Considering Lasik?
Here are the most up-to-date need-to-knows


September 2016

Itís been almost 20 years since the advent of widespread use of Lasik surgery to correct near- and farsightedness.

Lasik ó 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 professionals behind.

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 older.

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.

The procedure 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 both eyes. m



This story ran in the September 2016 issue of: