One of the most common concerns people have about laser eye surgery is whether the treatment is safe. Using the latest technology and expertise, laser vision correction has proven to be a very safe procedure. There are four aspects of laser eye surgery that contribute to its overall safety:
- Proper patient evaluation before surgery
- Creation of the LASIK flap;
- Laser technology;
- Proper Post-operative care and follow-up
Proper Patient Evaluation
The most important step in laser vision correction surgery is determining whether a patient is a good candidate for the surgery. We offer a wide array of vision correction options, and it may be that laser vision correction surgery is not the best choice for a particular patient, but rather another surgery such as an ICL or Intacs may be better.
At our center, the surgeon meets with each patient personally at the time of the evaluation to determine the best surgical approach. We have several corneal imaging systems (called Topographers or Tomographers) which allow the surgeon to evaluate each patient’s eyes individually. We also assess for other ocular conditions, such as dry eye or keratoconus, that may need to be addressed prior to considering vision correction surgery.
Creation of the LASIK flap
Traditionally LASIK flaps were made with a mechanical blade called a microkeratome. However, the safest and most precise approach to making a LASIK flap is to use a femtosecond laser. Drs. Schlichtemeier and Kugler specialize in all-laser bladeless LASIK using the WaveLight FS200 Femtosecond laser to create the LASIK flap.
Maintaining the integrity of the corneal biomechanics is a critical element in the success of the refractive procedure, and the WaveLight FS200 femtosecond laser system delivers unmatched control over flap diameter, depth, centration and morphology, resulting in an unprecedented combination of safety and precision.
Not all lasers are created equally. Dr. Kugler and Dr. Schlichtemeier are dedicated to providing their patients the best technology available. Therefore they use the Wavelight Allegretto Wave EyeQ laser for all laser vision correction procedures. This laser system provides the safest and most accurate treatments available. The benefits of this technology are discussed in detail here.
The quality of care patients receive after surgery is just as important as the care they receive before and during surgery. High quality care ensures patients have the best chance of achieving quality vision for a lifetime.
Long term effects of LASIK
More than 16 million of people have had LASIK since its approval more than 20 years ago. Although a recent study of over 2,000 patients confirmed that more than 95 percent of LASIK patients are satisfied with their results, one of the most common questions we are asked about LASIK is whether there are adverse long-term effects.
Patients are often under the impression that contact lenses are safer than LASIK, but recent studies suggest that is not true. In fact, patients wearing contact lenses are 180 times more likely to have a serious infection than patients who have LASIK, and are more likely to require a corneal transplant later in life.
A recent study was published by the Army Warfighter Refractive Eye Surgery Program (WRESP), which was established by the US armed forces to reduce the limitations posed by corrective eyewear in combat situations. This program has given the US armed forces an unparalleled advantage over opponents. The study looked at the outcome and satisfaction rates of 16,111 armed service members who have undergone laser vision correction. The study concluded that this program has provided excellent outcomes and enhanced the overall readiness of our armed forces. Reports of night vision difficulties, surgical complications, and dry eyes are infrequent, and do not seem to have a significant negative impact on military operations or individual readiness. (Source: Ophthalmology; Volume 112, Issue 2, Pages 184-190.e2)
Another study was published in Ocular Surgery News. This study followed 800 eyes for 10 years. According to this article: efficacy, safety and predictability were maintained throughout the study in eyes requiring low, intermediate and high levels of correction. (Source: Ocular Surgery News; January 1, 2007 p.36)
Another well designed study followed patients over 12 years after having laser vision correction and found that “Almost 90% of eyes recalled for 12-year follow-up maintained or improved best corrected visual acuity.” ( Source: Journal Of Refractive Surgery 2006; 22:871-877, Ocular Surgery News; January1, 2007 p.34)
It is important to remember that, despite these positive reports, laser vision correction is a medical procedure that carries certain risks and is best performed by a caring and conscientious surgeon. LASIK is not a commodity, and the choice of surgeon should not be made based on price. Dr. Kugler and Dr. Schlichtemeier are committed to spending time with you before and after surgery to ensure the best possible result.
Consider relative safety of alternatives
Dr. Kugler recently discussed some of the dangers of contact lenses in an interview on WOWT Channel 6 in Omaha: