Laser eye surgery, particularly LASIK, has been in the news a lot lately. In addition to general reports of people opting out of expensive elective procedures, as the prices of everything from milk to rice to gasoline go through the roof, there’s quite a current buzz about bad experiences with the surgery:
Federal regulators have received reports of Lasik patients with dry eyes, double vision and distorted night vision, among other problems. Web sites like www.lasik-flap.com and www.lasermyeye.org/forums/index.php carry sobering tales of more serious eye damage or cases of vision improvement seeming to disappear within a few years.
Lasik practitioners say a recent analysis of past studies showed 95 percent satisfaction rates. But with 12 million patients having undergone the procedure in the United States since it was approved in 1995, the sheer number of individuals with unhappy outcomes is growing steadily. And more of their stories are gaining public attention.
“My eyes are damaged beyond repair,” Pamela C. Barncastle, 62, of Albuquerque said in a phone interview. Mrs. Barncastle said she underwent the surgery in 2001 and now has double vision and sees halos and bursts of blurred light at night that keep her from driving after sundown.
Given all that, I just thought I’d post, on this second anniversary of my LASIK surgery, what I think about it.
Executive summary: I’m still thrilled!
I’ve had no bad symptoms of any sort. It’s still only two years, so I don’t know what’ll happen as more years pass, but I still have great vision for distance, and still see fine up close but need reading glasses in the same situations where I needed reading glasses before. In other words, I see as well as I did with contact lenses before the surgery, but I no longer need contact lenses.
I also think it was worth the money. Not in the sense that it has paid for itself, nor ever will — one can buy a lot of years’ worth of contact lenses and stuff for the cost of LASIK. But in the sense of feeling good about it. In the sense that it’s really nice not to have to deal with contact lenses. My eyes did sometimes get dry, tired, or irritated with the contact lenses. I had to take them out and clean them regularly. I had to make sure I had a supply of them around (I used weekly disposable ones). It’s great not to worry about any of that. My eyes are now just my eyes.
I haven’t experienced dry eyes, no flares, ghosts, or halos, nothing like that. No pain. No itching. All is good.
Here’s hoping it continues that way.
 Actually, doing the math, I see that it will pay for itself in about 15 years, assuming that it lasts and doesn’t need to be repeated.