6 of the 7 Secrets for Successful LASIK (Laser Vision Correction

Courtesy of the Doctors of Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care, Rockville, Maryland

Too often I hear LASIK described as a computer controlled, computer generated procedure that is basically operator independent. Nothing could be further from the truth. LASIK is a procedure that takes an exceptional amount of expertise and skill. The prescription to be entered into the computer must be generated by the surgeon after detailed analysis of multiple data points. The data must be adjusted for factors such as patient age, sex, health, refractive data and expectations. Other factors the surgeon deems to be important are taken into account in their nomogram include parameters such as room humidity and temperature. The experienced surgeon takes these factors into account within their “nomogram” – a database of information collected after performing thousands of procedures. They use data from their nomogram to fine tune the final prescription to be entered and used in the actual procedure. The experienced surgeon is extremely detail oriented in delineating proper patient aftercare and setting patient expectations. I have heard figures estimated for surgeon learning curves between 1 and 3 thousand procedures. Another factor in surgeon choice includes a surgeon who not only can perform the procedure, but has enough experience to handle all problems that can arise during and after surgery.
A question that is asked weekly in my office is “what do think of ‘X’ laser center?” Remember, it’s not where you have LASIK, but who does it. Many of the larger laser facilities lease laser time and support staff to surgeons. Don’t let the fancy surgery center, attractive staff and pictures on the wall of celebrities who have been to that center for surgery fools you. These places are a dime-a-dozen. Ask your trusted primary care eye doctor, be it an optometrist or ophthalmologist who the local seasoned, veteran LASIK surgeons are. If your ophthalmologist performs LASIK surgery, be sure you know the right questions to ask such as how many procedures he/she has performed, whether he “cuts” the flap or uses the laser to cut the flap. Be sure to ask if he/she has special training to perform LASIK. Search online for any lawsuits but remember, many LASIK lawsuits are frivolous – for every 1000 LASIK procedures performed there is likely to be 1 or 2 unhappy patients that make some kind of formal complaint that may or may not be legitimate. If the surgeon has more complaints than that, a frank conversation might be in order, or a second opinion.

While results from LASIK vary, most people (in some estimates over 98% of people) will end up close to 20/20 and be freed from the need to wear corrective eyewear at distance or near if they are under the age of 40-43. It is possible that your results will not be perfect, and you will be left with some minimal need for vision correction to slightly enhance clarity for activities such as driving a car, going to the movies or a sporting event or watching a TV across a large room. If this happens to you, you will be free from wearing corrective eyewear most of the time but May, on occasion, feel the need to throw on a thin pair of lenses just to enhance vision. LASIK is very good at reducing your dependence on optical vision correction aids and, in most cases for people in the aforementioned age group eliminating your dependence, but you should go into the procedure expecting just to have your dependence on eyewear reduced to a minimum. Over 43, most people who have glasses will enter into the “bifocal” age group known as presbyopia and start needing corrective eyewear for reading and possibly even mid-range activities like computer viewing.
The eye is a dynamic organ, and your prescription at distance is based on the axial length of your eye which is not fixed and the shape of the cornea which is fixed. Think of the eye as a fluid filled ball of jelly that is not of a solid fixed size and can vary from things as innocuous as rubbing or pressing on them. If LASIK corrects your vision for a few years and the axial length of your eye increases you may lose some of the benefit of the original procedure and need glasses for seeing far. It is unlikely this will occur to the extent that you will reach your original prescription, however you should not expect LASIK to permanently cure your myopia (nearsightedness). In some corneas where enough tissue remains after the primary procedure you might qualify for an enhancement that may restore your distance vision but you should approach any enhancement with caution. While most go smoothly, if there is a problem with LASIK the majority of times it occurs after an enhancement. You are also doubling your risk by having surgery twice.


The happiest LASIK patients are the ones who understand all the potential risks and outcomes clearly. It is the surgeon’s responsibility to clearly outline your risks and help you to understand the potential outcomes. If any surgeon promises a perfect result or a result that is guaranteed to last RUN to the nearest exit. No one knows how long your benefits will last or even if your procedure will turn out perfectly, they can only look at your prescription, age and health and guess that you will, like most people, end up beneath the bell curve. It is those who end up in the outliers that weren’t appropriately educated as to the risks and potential outcomes that are the most unhappy with their procedures. Make sure you are thoroughly educated on how your reading vision will be after the age of 40-42, what the risk of glare and possibly dry eyes means after the procedure. If you are over 55 be sure to ask what the timeline to cataract surgery might be. If you are developing a cataract LASIK might be unnecessary, because cataract surgery can also be customized to correct refractive error, minimizing your dependence on corrective eyewear.
SECRET #7 – …………………………………….?
Now you know 6 of the 7 secrets of making an informed decision on LASIK; secrets that patients of Shady Grove Eye & Vision Care are taught. What is the 7th secret? It has something to do with the high level of patient care the doctors and staff at Shady Grove is committed to. It has something to do with attention to detail, making the best recommendations and offering the best, most experienced and caring surgeons to take care of you from start to finish. It has a lot to do with customer service provided by your eye doctor and support staff. Come in to receive our expert LASIK consultative services, become a patient of our practice and discover all our secrets to our success in treating thousands of LASIK patients.

Copyright 2009 – Dr. Alan Glazier, Optometrist, P.A.

Courtesy of the Doctors at Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care; Optometrists, Ophthalmologists and Opticians working together to help you see better.  Serving the Rockville, Potomac and Gaithersburg Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. For more information visit youreyesite.com or call (301) 670-1212 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (301) 670-1212      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

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One Response

  1. Great article I really enjoy it, thanks for sharing. I hope you keep posting additional info soon.

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