Are You a Candidate for Laser Vision Correction?

As Seen In County Lines Magazine

Reprinted County Lines Magazine Being Well column December 2014

Are You a Candidate for Laser Vision Correction?
John DeStafeno, MD

Since the 1990s, over 12 million people worldwide have had this surgery.

Many people would enjoy a life less dependent on glasses and contacts. No more cloudy glasses in the rain; no more running out of contact lenses or solutions.  Some of my happiest patients are those who’ve undergone laser vision correction (LVC, which includes LASIK, the most common technique, and other procedures).

LVC continues to be one of the most sought-after elective surgeries. Many patients who’ve had the procedure have greatly reduced their dependency on glasses and contact lenses. And recent studies have found more than a 95 percent satisfaction rate.

What is Laser Vision Correction?
LVC uses a specialized laser to reshape the front part of the eye—the cornea—to improve the focus of the eye. Lasers can be used to correct nearsightedness and farsightedness as well as astigmatism.

LASIK can be performed in the office and typically takes 7 to 10 minutes per eye. Topical anesthetics are used, and the procedure is virtually pain-free. Vision will improve the next day but may take a few weeks to stabilize. Patients often return to full activities the next day.

Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK), or surface ablation, is another option and may be recommended for patients who aren’t candidates for LASIK. PRK has a longer visual recovery and longer healing than LASIK but the same positive
results.

Can everyone have LVC?
Most patients are candidates for LVC. A thorough eye evaluation—including diagnostic testing to examine the overall health and shape of the eyes—is required by an eye-care professional to determine if you’re a good candidate. Patients with certain eye conditions—dry eye, corneal scars, thin corneas, cataracts, very high glasses or contacts prescription—may not be good candidates. But there may be other procedures your eye care provider can recommend.

Am I too young or old for LVC?
Patients are typically 18 years or older before having LVC and must have a stable eyeglass prescription for at least one year. This minimum age results from near- and far-sightedness being more likely to increase in our teen years. There’s no maximum age for LVC. Many patients in their 50s to 70s have successful LVC and enjoy the benefits. Although eye diseases, such as dry eye and cataracts, increase with age, LVC can be performed safely if the eye has no significant conditions.

What are the risks and side-effects?
The safety of LVC has been studied for many years and has been consistently shown to be one of the safest medical procedures performed today. In fact, the risk of eye infection from contact lens wear is much greater than infections after LVC. As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and side effects. With advances in diagnostic tools and the use of faster and safer lasers, the risk of visual problems after LVC has been minimized. However, each eye is unique and a full discussion should be planned with your eye care professional.

Will I ever need to wear glasses or contacts again?
LVC corrects vision in many patients so that no glasses or contacts are needed. If your vision changes over time, a “touch-up” can be performed to improve your vision. Most patients have a less than 5 percent chance of needing this over their lifetime. Patients over 40 may need reading and computer glasses for best vision. Or these patients have the option of a procedure call monovision, which corrects one eye for distance vision and the other eye for near vision.

The Future.
LVC has improved markedly since the 1990s, most notably with the introduction of Wavefront and Alllaser-LASIK. New laser treatment patterns, specifically those to improve near vision, are being investigated to allow even more patients to enjoy the benefits of LVC.

Are you ready to see life more clearly? ♦

Dr. John DeStafeno, M.D., a board-certified ophthalmologist, has provided eye care to Chester County patients since 2007. Trained in Cornea, Cataract, and Refractive Surgery at Duke University, he’s the current Director of Refractive Surgery at Chester County Eye Care Associates and Clinical Instructor at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia.

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