Is Laser Eye Surgery Cosmetic?
Submitted by Dr. Dean Dornic on Sun 02/21/2010 - 10:54
Many people have taken the stance that refractive surgery is cosmetic, similar to a cheek implant, nose job or breast augmentation. The eyes are perfectly fine; a pair of glasses will make everything nice and clear, right? But isn’t this analogous to a patient who needs hearing aids to hear or a cane to walk? The perception that LASIK and other refractive surgeries are cosmetic is perpetuated by individuals who aren’t dependent on glasses. These individuals don’t realize what a burden glasses or contacts are. They may not have experienced how a dependence on visual aids can impact the activities of daily living. This line of thinking is reinforced by the insurance industry. Most plans do not cover refractive surgery. Cosmetic makeover shows typically include LASIK because many patients look better without glasses. But the real benefit of Lasik is not that the patient looks better, rather it is that the patient functions better.
Refractive Errors are a Defect
It is an enigma to me how our myopic ancestors functioned or even survived before the correction of refractive errors were possible. Nearsighted individuals clearly were at a competitive disadvantage. I would not want to be a poorly seeing mid-evil warrior!
Marco Polo brought the concept of eyeglasses back to Europe from the Orient. But eyeglasses and contact lenses are prosthetic devices just as are hearing aids and ankle braces. For many years, man has strived to permanently correct their vision with drugs, eye exercises or surgery. As it turns out, surgery has proven to be the only, permanently successful solution. Over the past 50 years strives have been made to make vision correction more precise and safer. The fact that a much higher percentage of ophthalmologists have had LASIK than the general population is testament to the perceived success of these goals.
Athletes and the Military Undergo LASIK
Scores of professional athletes including football players, baseball players and members of the National Basketball Association have had LASIK. Over 80 professional golfers have had LASIK; Tiger Woods being the most well known. Many athletes feel that being free of glasses or contact lenses improves their game and are not having the procedure performed to improve their appearance. The U.S. Military has seen the advantage of laser vision correction and now provides it for many of their enlisted personnel. Likewise, many active patients find glasses or contact lenses impractical for many activities of daily living.
Not Just for the Rich and Famous
In recent years, the cost of traditional laser vision correction has come down. But the educated consumer should not just search out the lowest price. Doing so means that that the individual may not be benefiting from the improved success rates and safety of such advances as wider treatment zones, smoother treatment surfaces, pupil trackers and wavefront technology. Be sure that you are dealing with an experienced refractive surgeon who makes use of the latest technological advances, that the laser room is environmentally controlled and that strict infection prevention controls are in place.
Don’t despair if your medical insurance does not cover your laser eye surgery. Flexible medical spending accounts and insurance discounts offer real savings. Low or no-interest financing options can help fit laser vision correction into most people’s budget. Vision correction is a recognized income tax deduction. Many patients who have had their vision corrected feel that it was one of the best investments they have ever made. More patients are candidates for vision correction today and success rates are higher than ever. Laser eye surgery is not just cosmetic and there has never been a better time to have your vision corrected than right now.