up the picture on laser eye surgery
Experts urge caution in finding doctor,
AT A GLANCE
* Lasik surgery is the most popular type of procedure to correct blurry vision.
* One study found that after six months, patients had a 70 percent chance of 20/20 vision.
* Additional surgery -- called enhancements -- may be needed months after the original
* In the United States, a person must be 18 years old for most refractive surgery.
Source: Council for Refractive Surgery Quality Assurance
(CNN) -- Millions of Americans are flocking to eye doctors, wanting laser surgery to
correct their vision problems. Many people are happy with the results, but for some, it
can do more damage than good.
Experts say finding the right doctor and understanding the risks can help prospective
patients get a clearer picture of the results they can expect....
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which approves what types of lasers doctors can
use, says possible risks or complications from surgery include the possibility of
permanent vision loss, the need for additional treatment or eyeglasses to achieve 20/20
vision and the chance that improvements may not last forever.
Last year, the American Academy of Ophthalmology found that Lasik was effective for
correcting low-to-moderate nearsightedness and astigmatism but less predictable for more
Doctor: Consider more than price
Finding the best doctor for the job takes research, and experts say looking for the best
price is not the best place to start.
"[Patients] wouldn't want to get discount open heart surgery or budget brain
surgery," said Dr. Terrence O'Brien of John Hopkins University's Wilmer Eye Institute
in Baltimore, Maryland. "Yet some people devalue their eyes and would risk a major
complication to have a discounted eye surgery."
The ads for some clinics also could contain red flags, O'Brien said.
"If you have an advertisement that boasts of thousands and thousands of procedures
being performed, one should be cautious," he said. "[It may be a] commercialized
outfit that is more interested in quantity than quality."
Instead, O'Brien said, look for a clinic with good preoperative screening. This approach
should rule out people with severe nearsightedness or extreme astigmatism.
Experts also recommend checking for thorough postoperative care to ensure clinics can
handle problems that may arise after the procedure.
The ophthalmology association reports that about 5 percent to 15 percent of Lasik patients
return for additional surgery.
Lasik surgery cannot be reversed, and the procedure is still too new to know if there are
any long-term ill effects beyond five years after surgery, according to the ophthalmology