LASIK: What Men Should Know
LASIK is a type of surgery performed to help decrease a person’s dependence on contact lenses or eyeglasses. Men already have a lot on their plate, and heading to the eye doctor several times a year to get their contacts changed just takes time away from their families, jobs and other responsibilities. LASIK can change all that. LASIK is not for everyone, but it can have a positive impact on many men’s lives.
What Does LASIK Do?
In short, a laser tool actually changes the shape of the cornea. (The cornea is the clear covering that covers the front of the eye.) By doing this, it can correct your bad vision and eliminate your need for any type of eyeglasses or contact lenses. LASIK can be used to correct hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism (corneal irregularities that cause image-on-retina distortion).
How is LASIK Performed?
LASIK is actually a pretty complicated procedure. Most people assume they will go into their eye doctor’s office, have a laser beam whisked across both eyes, wear some dark glasses for a day and wake up with great vision. Unfortunately it’s not that simple.
To begin, a laser device (laser keratome) or blade device (mechanical microkeratome) is used on the cornea to cut a flap. At one end of the flap, a hinge is left. The middle section of the cornea, the stroma, is then revealed when the flap is folded back. A computer-controlled laser sends pulses to the stroma to vaporize a portion of it. Then, the flap is dropped back into place. There is more than one LASIK technique, but this is the gist of what will happen to your eye. It sounds a tad painful, but you will have numbing eyedrops that ensure you won’t feel a thing. The procedure is quite quick, too.
Who is LASIK For?
If you are healthy and pass the presurgical evaluation, LASIK is for you. All states require patients to be at least 18, and some require patients be at least 21. Your prescription must be stable. This is one of the reasons for doctors having age requirements — our eyes tend not to settle down until we are in our 20s.
You will also have to be relatively healthy and not have any medical conditions that prevent your body from healing normally. Also, your prescription must be within a certain range. For example, if you have severe myopia, this procedure cannot be done because too much corneal tissue will have to be removed. If this is the case, talk to your eye doctor because there are other alternatives.
Who Should Not Have LASIK?
First, you need to be willing to take the risk. This is a surgery, and like all surgeries, complications can occur. Also, long-term data for certain LASIK procedures is not available, meaning this can sometimes be a gamble.
If you cannot afford LASIK, most insurance companies will not pay for it. According to AllAboutVision.com, the average cost of all LASIK and other vision correction procedures that are laser based was $2,140 in early 2009.
If you participate in sports in which your eyes occasionally take hits (e.g., boxing), this surgery is not for you. Certain eye conditions may exclude you from being eligible; talk to your doctor before having LASIK if you have blepharitis, thin corneas, dry eyes, large pupils or have had a previous refractive surgery. Other medical conditions may also exclude you from having this surgery: herpes zoster or herpes simplex affecting the eye, any eye disease such as keratoconus, glaucoma, ocular hypertension, previous eye surgeries or eye injuries.
Advantages and Disadvantages of LASIK
The biggest advantage is that your sight will improve very quickly, meaning your glasses or contacts can be tossed to the wayside. LASIK has a very quick recovery time; most patients experience an average of 80 percent better acuity in just 24 hours.
One disadvantage is if your eye problem was misdiagnosed prior to having this surgery, your vision will not improve and you can experience debilitating visual symptoms that are permanent. These include halos, glare and double vision. You can also develop dry eye syndrome after LASIK. Not everyone will be able to go completely without some type of corrective lenses after this procedure; some will need to resort to eyeglasses as they age.
Weigh the risks against the rewards, talk it over with your family, then decide if LASIK is the right move for you.