Eye Care & Vision Problems : Pros & Cons of Laser Eye Surgery
The Pros and Cons of LASIK Surgery
Some people wonder how they ever managed before laser eye surgery. Others aren't so sure. If you're considering LASIK, these personal accounts can help you make an informed decision.
By Beth W. Orenstein
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
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For many people, laser eye surgery has been nothing but a positive, life-enhancing experience. Some people feel so-so about it, and others wish they never had the procedure at all. Here are three people who chose to have laser eye surgery (also called LASIK, for laser in-situ keratomileusis) to correct their blurred vision — and what they have to say about it.
Michelle, Age 27: Couldn’t Be More Pleased With LASIK Surgery
Michelle Schettino underwent laser eye surgery in October 2009 at the Gotham LASIK Vision Center in New York City — and she couldn’t be happier.
Schettino, who lives in the city, never liked wearing glasses to correct her blurred vision. Her solution had been to squint. As a result, she says, “I was noticing some premature wrinkles in my forehead and that was really bothering me. That’s when I decided it was time to undergo laser eye surgery.” Her blurred vision wasn’t that bad, she says, “but it was getting progressively worse … to the point where I couldn’t see anything far away.”
Schettino had stopped going to the movies and dining in restaurants with menus posted on the wall because she couldn’t read them. Contacts hadn’t worked for her because she would forget to take them out at night so her eyes were really irritated.
Schettino says she was really surprised at how easy the LASIK surgery procedure was. “I went at night after work at about 6 p.m. and I was there for about two hours,” she says.
She felt comfortable with her doctor, Bryan Bonanni, MD, and the surgery center — much more so than the center she had visited when she first thought about having LASIK surgery about four years earlier. “I would definitely recommend researching and finding a facility you’re comfortable with,” she says. “They really put me at ease, and I think that was very important.”
Schettino says she only uses eye drops on occasion now — when her eyes are dry. Her vision is vastly improved.
“I can see 100 times better than before when I had glasses or contacts,” she says happily. “I really had a wonderful experience and would recommend it to anyone who is a candidate for LASIK.”
Carole, Age 61: Satisfied With LASIK, But Needs Follow-Up
Carole V. Bartholomeaux of Phoenix, Ariz., was ecstatic with the results of her laser eye surgery, which she had about four years ago. She says she noticed a difference the morning after her LASIK procedure. “I found that I could read street signs and I was just thrilled.”
Bartholomeaux, who owns her own public relations firm, is on the computer 8 to 10 hours a day when she’s not in meetings and is pleased that she can get along without corrective lenses to see distances. She still uses reading glasses, however, because she chose not to correct either eye for seeing fine print.
Having worn contacts from the time she was 24, Bartholomeaux didn’t have problems with them; she just found that “all of a sudden I was getting pain” and opted for LASIK eye surgery.
More than a year ago, however, Bartholomeaux noticed that when she was watching television on the 24-inch screen in her bedroom, the faces weren’t as clear as they had been immediately after the surgery. She has called her eye surgeon’s office and has been somewhat disappointed in its follow-up care, which she paid for initially as part of her contract.
“I’m frustrated with the customer service,” she says, and would be happier if the office would respond to her requests to find out what’s causing her blurred vision and help her correct it.
Elizabeth, Age 31: A College Teacher Who's Sorry She Had Laser Eye Surgery
Elizabeth Skwiot, who lives in the Minneapolis area, is unhappy with the laser eye surgery she had in November 2008.
“I was told I was a good candidate,” she says. “I had been interested in the surgery for a long time, and I decided I was done dealing with contacts. My eyes were dry and itchy all the time.”
Immediately after her surgery, which she had when she was 30, she experienced some of the possible side effects — she would see halos and had great difficulty reading. “I was seeing two lines of text for every one,” she says.
Skwiot, who teaches Spanish and freshman composition at a college, was devastated with the results because her life revolves around words and being able to read. “On more than one occasion,” she says, “my vision was so bad [after the laser eye surgery] that it wasn’t safe for me to drive.” A couple of times when she was out and about, she says, “I had to call my significant other and he had to come and get me.”
Two months after her surgery, Skwiot was wearing glasses all the time. In May 2009, she had an enhancement but she’s still having problems with halos. When she’s watching a movie, she finds she has to cover the screen on the DVD player so she doesn’t see the digital numbers. “When I see halos around the lights, it brings back memories of being totally incapacitated for months.”
Skwiot says she experienced severe anxiety and depression because she couldn’t enjoy the activities she did before her surgery. “My vision was compromised.”
Knowing what she does now, Skwiot says, she wishes she never opted for laser eye surgery.
The Scoop on Laser Eye Surgery: It Works for Some, Not for Others
Many people find laser eye surgery worth doing — they like being able to see without having to fuss with glasses or contacts. Others say the experience is okay, and some advise against it because it didn’t work for them. So what’s the bottom line? This surgery isn’t for everyone, and only through thorough research and consultation with professionals can you make a decision for yourself.
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