Are You Guilty of LASIK Stereotyping?
Submitted by Dr. Dean Dornic on Mon 01/03/2011 - 11:18
LASIK refers to a group of diverse procedures that involves reshaping the cornea under a flap. Over the years, LASIK has evolved with the introduction of many advances in instrumentation and techniques that have made vision correction safer and more successful. Now we can offer conventional LASIK but also Z-LASIK, CustomVue wavefront-guided LASIK , and IntraLase LASIK. All too often, however, I hear patients and even investigative or consumer reporters attempt to generalize, inappropriately, on the merits and/or risks of the LASIK procedure. I will hear statistics quoted on side-effects, for instance, that may be from studies performed years ago using old, and now outdated, technology.
Two of the more important factors that effect risk of a LASIK procedure are the exact technologies involved in performing the procedure and the particular characteristics of the patient themselves. For instance, the risk of a patient with high myopia and astigmatism needing an enhancement (or “touch-up”) procedure might be double that of a patient with low myopia and no astigmatism. The risk of a flap complication is 6 times lower with IntraLase versus Z-LASIK. The risk of night time vision problems is up to 20 times lower with CustomVue technology compared to other technologies. The statistical spread is so wide, that discussions about the ‘risk of LASIK’ can be virtually meaningless without knowledge of the patient and the exact technique utilized.
Patients can be severely misled about the side-effect profile of LASIK if they rely on old data or make the mistake in assuming that all LASIK procedures are equivalent. Raleigh area patients should be aware that in our area there are several different providers offering different LASIK technologies. Patients can minimize their risk by insuring that they use the safest available technology (iLASIK) and, when individual risk rises to an unacceptable level, choosing an alternative vision correction procedure such as implantable contacts or PRK that may yield a higher chance of success.