Realistic Expectations: Why Are They Central to Patient Satisfaction?
The overwhelming majority of patients who have had LASIK surgery are fully satisfied with their results – having experienced the significant benefits of improved vision. However, as with any medical or surgical procedure, for certain patients the outcome of the procedure may not seem “ideal” or meet all of his/her expectations.  A small minority of patients may also experience complications.  Therefore, it is crucial that LASIK surgery candidates thoroughly discuss the procedure — its benefits, risks and probable outcomes — with their physician prior to undergoing the surgery.  Each patient should be fully informed and feel comfortable that they are making an educated decision based upon the facts.  Candidates should be aware that:

  • LASIK cannot provide perfect vision every time for every patient.  However, for the majority of LASIK candidates, the surgery improves vision and reduces the need for corrective eyewear.  In fact, the vast majority of patients with low to moderate nearsightedness achieve 20/40 vision or better, and many can expect to achieve 20/20 vision or better. 

  • Re-treatments (enhancements) may be required to achieve optimal outcomes.  Fortunately, it is possible to repeat the laser treatment by lifting the flap, typically about three months after the original procedure. Even after enhancements, vision after LASIK may not be as good as it was with glasses or contact lenses before the procedure.

  • There may be visual aberrations after LASIK—most commonly, glare and halos under dim lighting conditions.  Usually, these are not significant, and resolve within several months of surgery. Occasionally, they are severe enough to interfere with normal activities. 

  • LASIK will not cure presbyopia, the aging changes that prevent older people from seeing near objects through the same glasses that they use for viewing distant objects.

  • LASIK surgery, as all surgical procedures, has the risk of complications. Fortunately, the likelihood of visual loss with LASIK is very small.  In the many millions of LASIK procedures done so far, less than one percent of patients have experienced serious, vision threatening problems. Most complications represent delays in full recovery and resolve within several months of surgery.

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Copyright © 2009 Robert C. Arffa, M.D., 1370 Washington Pike, Bridgeville, PA 15017