Laser eye surgery - is it worth the risk?

Is there much risk?
Anybody had it and wish they hadn’t? Anyone had it and glad they did?

There have been three threads that I know of on this subject on the board. (I started one of them) Do a search for LASIK, and they’ll come up.

That said, carry on. :slight_smile:


I had it done Jan 2 2001. It’s an unalloyed good in my life.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Ash got zapped in 2002. Penny for penny the best money I have ever spent. No regrets, no complications.

There are several threads on this, I know I’ve posted to at least one, but long story short–best thing I’ve ever done. I wake up in the night, and I can see the clock. That alone makes it all worthwhile. :slight_smile:

I was told the risk was very low indeed of any serious complications. The LASIK clinic I went to had a book for clients to write comments in. I read as many of those as I could. They were all, without exception, full of praise for the professionalism of the medical staff and for the quality of the results. I had the surgery 4 years ago and added some similar comments to the book. Best money I have spent.


I do a lot of sporty activities, like running, cycling, swimming, etc and to be able to do those without glasses or contacts is fantastic.

The recovery from the surgery is remarkably fast.

I used lots of eyedrops over the first few months after the surgery and I still use them every few days or so, because my eyes seem to dry out easier than they used to (Especially when playing Ureal Tournament 2004, but my wife says that’s because I open my eyes up all the way and don’t blink for hours on end. :wink: Other than that, there weren’t any “complications” or anything significant.

Just personally, I’m not a risk taker at all, even if there is very little risk. Improvements are continually being made to these procedures. Also, the surgery for far-sighted people (which I am) isn’t as perfected as the near-sighted surgeries. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard.

I’m completely content just taking two minutes out of my morning to put in contacts. But honestly, whatever works for you.

There is nothing like waking up after the surgery (or more correctly after the drugs they give you before surgery wear off), opening your eyes and being able to see. I had it done about 3.5 years ago. I had worn glasses or contacts for so long I couldn’t even remember what it was like to see clearly upon waking up. The rewards for me far outweighed the risks. I went from 20/200+ to 20/15 and the only side effect was a slight increase in dryness that was already noted. I couldn’t be more enthusiastic in my endorsement.

Anyone who’s had this done- how much is the cost? I want it done once they agree to do it (They refuse to try until I’m 25) and I want to know If I’ll be able to afford it.

Also, will they do it on someone who’s nearsighted to the 20/400 degree?

I had mine done last February, and have been very happy with it. I have 20/15 vision in both eyes now, and can read the smallest print on the doctor’s close-up vision test board thingy. I do still have a bit of glare from point light sources in the dark - car headlights, movie credits, that sort of thing, but it doesn’t bother me much any more. And, to be honest, it’s less glare than I used to get from my dirty glasses.

The key to minimizing the risk is to find a good doctor. Don’t go to Jim-Bob’s Mufflers and Discount Laser Surgery. Any reputable doctor should willingly provide you will all kinds of statistics on request - how many operations they’ve performed, the satisfaction rates of their patients, how many people have had complications, what kind of laser they use, etc, etc. If a doctor’s office balks at giving you that information, don’t go there.

I ended up going to the best guy I could find, even though he was also the most expensive, and I’m glad I did. At my last checkup, he said that if he didn’t know, he wouldn’t be able to tell my eyes had been operated on.

You snuck this post in while I was writing my post.

I paid a total of $2500. Again, I went to the most expensive guy I found, and again, I think it was a smart idea. You can find it significantly cheaper.

I believe they can fix 20/400 vision, but most places that do the surgery should offer a free screening exam, where they’ll look at a lot of things and tell you whether it’s an option.

Forget outdoor sports. I’m happy just to be able to find my way around the room, without glasses, when I get up in the morning.

One thing though, my vision is not quite as clear as it was with glasses, though the difference is definitely not enough to make me regret having the surgery.

Many people happy with their results. But sometimes things go wrong.

One consideration is that even though the actual reshaping of the cornea is done by computer-controlled laser, the flap is usually cut with a mechanical instrument which can jam or give inconsistent results (some doctors are experimenting with cutting the flap by laser, but that’s not very common and it has its own problems). And if you don’t know what I mean by cutting the flap, do some reading before you see a doc.

Related to the above, the flap doesn’t “heal” in the sense that healing usually means, as for a cut finger or even a surgical incision. It adheres mostly by suction. The doctor can lift the flap for additional lasering months after the initial surgery. The flap can also be displaced by a fairly minor blow, like an elbow in the eye during a basketball game.

The laser itself vaporizes a layer of the cornea with intense UV light. Some people are speculating that the UV exposure, though very brief, could contribute to cataracts down the road.

Cutting the flap usually severs nerves that help regulate tear production. Dry eyes, and a need to use drops, is a common though minor complication.

You also have to remember that even if you get a perfect correction for distance, with no complications, when you hit middle age you will need glasses or contacts for reading. On the other hand, a nearsighted person who needs glasses for distance can read up close without them. So in a sense you get to choose *when * you wear glasses, but not if you wear them. You can go the “monovision” route, where you get one eye corrected for distance and the other for reading, and your brain merges the images, but I would suggest experimenting with contact lenses to see whether that might work for you before you try irreversible surgery.

You also have to worry about business practices of the laser clinics. This is a high-profit enterprise. Some doctors will downplay the potential hazards or risks or contraindications for a particular patient. Aftercare also varies a lot from doctor to doctor and clinic to clinic. If you do get lasik get lots of references and go to the most experienced surgeon you can find, and make sure that he/she, not mysterious “associates,” is handling your case.

I looked into lasik for myself, and before that PRK, and before that RK. I even met the Russian doctor who invented RK, a now obsolete technique that involved cutting radial slits in the cornea with a scalpel to flatten it. And I have voted against eye surgery for myself. I am nearsighted, but I see great with glasses or contact lenses. The risks of surgery just scare me silly. The technology is still evolving, good results are never guaranteed, and bad outcomes are often not reversible. And contact lenses have advanced tremendously. If you can’t wear glasses, I would spend a lot of time and effort trying contacts before I got my eyes fried.

Some food for thought:

Every single person I know who has had it done is thrilled that they did it. I’m too much of a wuss to do it myself though.


I have only done a very small amount of reading about the subject, but personally I would not do it. I have not found enough data about how it could affect my eyesight when I reach middle age and senior citizen age. Also, from what I’ve read, sometimes your night vision is not as good as it was before the surgery.

I will qualify this with a YMMV, as my eyesight is not really that bad (I am nearsighted, but I could get by without glasses/contacts as long as I didn’t have to drive.) so my cost/benefit ratio is different than that of people who have it done. I’d still rather mess around with trying to find better contact lenses than have anything permanent done to my eyes.

The description I hear most often from those who have had LASIK is that it’s the best thing they ever did. That’s the way I reply when asked about my experiences with it.

I’m sure there is always some risk with any surgery. But if you choose a reputable doctor who doesn’t mind taking the time to explain things, about the eye, the procedure and the machinery used, I think this is a pretty safe surgery. If you aren’t a good candidate, the doctor should explain that to you. Again, find one that you trust.

My doctor almost didn’t recommend the surgery for me, because of my age. I was 42 at the time, and he said that within a year or two I would be needing reading glasses if I got the surgery. He also said that if I didn’t get the surgery, I would be needing bifocals within a year or two. Older people generally need glasses to read; the eye just loses its ability to focus up close. But putting on a pair of glasses to read very rarely bothers me. (Once or twice I’ve found myself in a dark restaurant with a menu that was hard to read, but I’ve since learned to take my reading glasses. I also carry a little credit-card-sized magnifier in my wallet, for emergencies.) If I’m going to be doing a lot of reading, I’m probably sitting down anyway, and glasses don’t bother me a bit.

When I’m out and about, it’s a wonderful thing not to have to wear glasses. No steamy, sweaty lenses when coming in from the cold, no wet lenses when walking in the drizzle. No achy ears and nose, no frames to worry about bumping into things.

I’ve had no night vision problems. Sometimes at night, I just stop and look around, amazed at how clear things are. I never saw things like that before my surgery, with glasses or contacts. People catch me staring at them, because after 5 years, I still haven’t become accustomed to being able to see individual hairs on a person’s head–I had always just seen a mass of hair. Leaves on trees are the same way. I hadn’t realized that things actually had sharp edges. I had lived my whole life in an impressionist painting.

Lots of people don’t mind glasses, and that’s fine. I hated them for over 30 years, because they made so many activities difficult for me. I still say that LASIK was the best decision I ever made.


I’ve got pretty bad vision; terribly nearsighted. Forget how much, as I’m wearing very old glasses. I should get a new pair.

I’ve actually been considering lasik for quite a while now, and among other things, the lack of long-term studies has prevented me from biting the bullet as it were and getting this surgery.

But THIS I’d never heard of before:

Related to the above, the flap doesn’t “heal” in the sense that healing usually means, as for a cut finger or even a surgical incision. It adheres mostly by suction. The doctor can lift the flap for additional lasering months after the initial surgery. The flap can also be displaced by a fairly minor blow, like an elbow in the eye during a basketball game [\quote]


Nonononono. No, thank you. Mm-mmmm. Count me out, thanks a lot!

I mean just think about that… let’s say it comes loose. Let’s say that the situation in which it comes loose is somewhat active, and the loosening jostling isn’t the only jostling. Immediately after loosening comes tearing and removal. No, thank you!

Or what if it comes loose and a bit of grit gets under the flap?

I like my eyes too much to take that kind of risk… minimal though it may be!

To which laser eye surgery do you refer?

Are we talking for treatment of retinal detachment? Cautery of microaneurisms? Elimination of truly large floaters? or vision correction?

Each distinct diagnosis carries its own risk/benefit ratio, depending on clinical circumstances.

Has anyone here gotten the surgery after being diagnosed with a case of dry eye syndrome? My body already produces almost no natural moisture for my eyes, and it can be downright miserable. I don’t know whether the surgery would worsen an already severe case, or whether the damage is already done and the surgery wouldn’t make a difference.

Folks, do not let anyone minimize how uncomfortable the condition can be. Be sure to educate yourself on other non-surgical causes, too (such as menopause, long-term computer use, and long-time contact lense use), just in case surgery + other risk factors = eyes drier than the Sahara.