Glasses are a fun and stylish way to see clearly. Contacts are a discreet way to correct your vision. But sometimes, you just want to see well without any corrective products, right?
In this case, many people consider corrective eye surgery. But is it a sure thing? For some, it’s a risky decision that doesn’t always leave you with perfect vision. To find out if it’s the right solution to your eyesight problems, keep reading.
What Is It Exactly?
Corrective eye surgeries are laser or surgical procedures that correct refractive problems in your eyesight. That basically means that it corrects how your eyes focus on light.
For example, in surgeries like Lasik and PRK, the laser reshapes your cornea (that clear, rounded front of your eye’s surface) to change how light enters your eye.
Other surgeries actually insert contact lenses into your eye to help sharpen your vision.
When Is It a Good Option?
Corrective eye surgery can be perfect if your current prescription is consistent and hasn’t changed a lot in the last several years.
Therefore, anyone under the age of 18 should probably wait a couple years before considering this option. It’s also perfect if you’re ready to ditch glasses and contacts altogether.
Corrective eye surgery has been used to fix farsightedness (hyperopia), nearsightedness (myopia) and astigmatism.
People who have mild nearsightedness usually have better results and more luck with corrective eye surgery. But the more sever your nearsightedness, or if you have farsightedness or stigmatism, you may experience some improvement, but not as much as you’d like.
When Is It a Bad Option?
It’s usually not a good idea to get corrective eye surgery if you suffer any of the following:
- Dry eyes
- Thin corneas
- You have large pupils
- You have high refractive error
- You have health conditions. If you’re pregnant, breast-feeding or using steroid drugs, your vision might change a little bit. So, it’s better to wait until these conditions pass before undergoing corrective eye surgery. The same goes for anyone with specific degenerative or autoimmune disorders.
But you can discuss all of this and more with your primary eye doctor. He or she can assess your situation personally. Together, you can discuss various aspects of your prescription and eye health, such as your cornea’s shape and thickness, the refractive errors in your eyesight, your pupil size, the level of dryness in your eyes, as well as your overall health and medical background.
From there, you can better understand which corrective eye surgery is best for you.
Corrective eye surgery is certainly not a cheap way to clearer vision. Unfortunately, since most insurance companies tend to see corrective eye surgery as something elective, it’s not usually included in your plan.
The cost of your surgery will depend on many factors: what surgery you choose, the individual provider and equipment used, your prescription, and how difficult your surgery is. On average, around 40% of surgeries cost between $1,500-2,500 per eye. Less than 10% of doctors charge between $2,500 to $3,000 per eye, while others only charge between $1,000 to $1,5000 per eye.
As you can see, there’s no exact cost of corrective eye surgery. So, you do have to shop around a little bit, and also check to see whether your insurance plan will cover any of the costs.
Risks of Corrective Eye Surgery
Corrective eye surgeries boast a very high level of safety, and can be very successful procedures. In fact, less than 1% of surgeries end with serious complications.
However, there are some risks involved, so it’s important to know what’s at stake before you make your final decision. Let’s take a closer look at some of the potential outcomes below.
Short Term Discomfort and Disturbance in Vision
Each person’s recovery experience will be different, and not everyone will have the same discomforts. Some discomforts include, fuzzy vision, dry eyes, less sharp vision, and certain visual changes in darker environments, such as glares and halos.
During some corrective eye surgeries, the doctors create a thin flap on the front of the cornea, which they need to lift in order to reshape your eye. Once your eye’s been reshaped, they replace the flap.
If the flap isn’t made properly, it may cause complications later, such as diffuse lamellar keratitis (DLK), or “Sands of the Sahara”.
Loss of Vision
This is extremely rare, but possible, especially if you are not an optimal candidate for corrective eye surgery.
If your eye doesn’t heal correctly after surgery, or if the laser correction wasn’t positioned properly, astigmatism can begin, or worsen (if it was a preexisting condition).
For some people, their eyes see quick improvement after corrective eye surgery, but then, their eyes over-heal after surgery.
Unfortunately, this leads to vision regression. And they can find themselves exactly where they started out before the procedure, except now with less money.
How to Choose Your Doctor
When you get corrective eye surgery, you’re entrusting a very precious part of your health – your vision – to someone else. So, it’s very important to find the best doctor available.
Here are things to look for in your search:
- Is your doctor licensed?
- Is your doctor board certified?
- Is he or she a member of the American College of Surgeons (ACS)?
- What do others say? Feedback can come from friends, family, former patients, colleagues, and even your eye care practitioner. This is the best sort of advertising.
- Are the billing and payment policies clear and comprehensive?
- Are financing options available?
- Is the surgeon, and his or her staff friendly, patient and respectful?
- How many surgeries has he or she completed?
- What are the statistics?
- What is provided in the follow-up care?
- Is the doctor’s office close to home? This can prevent unnecessary and inconvenient travel time, especially if there are any complications.
- Do they use the latest and most efficient technologies available? How does this effect the cost and results?
Getting corrective eye surgery is a big step, and it isn’t something you should take lightly. So, don’t be afraid to take time to research your options. This way, you’ll place yourself – and your eyesight – in safe hands.