If you wear eyeglasses and have thought about whether laser surgery might offer you a chance to ditch them, you're not alone. Since the procedure received FDA approval at the end of the 1990s, LASIK has been chosen by close to 10 million Americans. It's a good idea, though, to think about the pros and cons of the technique, especially as it compares to continuing to wear eyeglasses.
Pro: The High Probability of Improved Vision
More than 90% of people who undergo the LASIK procedure have achieved visual acuity of at least 20/20, and 99% reported something the neighborhood of 20/40. An additional 96% of patients who've been through the surgery stated that they felt satisfied with the results.
Con: You Might Not Be a Candidate
While laser eye surgery has certainly helped millions of people, you may simply not be a candidate for the procedure. First, you need to be able to document that your prescription for eyeglasses has not changed in the last year. Second, it's generally better if you only have a single diagnosable problem, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness. The more complex your situation with your eye health is, the less likely you'll be considered a good candidate.
The overall procedure takes about 10 minutes per eye to complete. In fact, once the system has your prescription dialed in, the laser itself is only active for between 20 and 50 seconds. A little more time may be required to handle adjustments to the system if the two eyes have radically different prescriptions.
During the procedure, you'll be given numbing eye drops to ensure you don't blink. Your eyelids will also be held open with a device for added assurance. It is possible to be prescribed a mild sedative to address any anxiety concerns you might have before and during the surgery.
Con: You May Need Glasses
This can sound like an odd punchline, but you may have to continue to own a pair of reading glasses after you get LASIK. Doctors typically use the procedure to correct for distance vision. Bear in mind that when we talk about 20/20 vision, we're talking about the ability to read an eye chart at 20 feet.
Pro: Long-Term Cost