Blurry Results for Some Lasik Patients

Lasik is the most widely used form of laser vision correction surgery, but there's a few patients who find themselves dissastisfied -- and even worse off -- after the procedure.

Frank Scalise, a freelance writer, fell into that dissatisfied 5-percent. He sid he first looked to Lasik as a source of visual freedom.  "The first thing I had to do every morning was reach for my glasses or put in lenses," he said.

In the Lasik procedure, the doctor makes a flap in the cornea, then they apply laser energy deep within to reshape it. This adjustment is supposed to correct the vision.

More than a million Americans a year have the procedure. According to current medical literature 95-percent of patients are satisfied.

Scalise fell into that dissatisfied 5-percent. "The halos and the starbursts and stuff like that," he offered. "It wasn't crippling, but it was uncomfortable."

Scalise told us it wasn't the discomfort but his deterioriating vision that sent him back for a second Lasik a few years later. "It had gotten so I was going to need glasses again", he explained.

After two Lasik's Scalise consulted Dr. Sandra Belmont, a clinical associate professor of Opthamalogy at NYU Medical School. "Lasik is not for everyone." she told us.

Belmont has performed more than 15,000 lasik procedures over 15 years."Not everyone is a good candidate and sometimes you have to say no," she said.

People with thin corneas, irregularly shaped corneas, dry eye are among those who would fall into that poor candidate list.

What is it we still don't know about Lasik after 15-20 years of the procedure? We may soon have some new questions and answers.
The FDA is in the midst of a 3 year study on Lasik patient quality of life.
"The laser technology itself has improved dramatically," said Dr. Belmont. "Complaints about starbursts and halos have decreased.

There is also new hope for people unsuited for Lasik from improvements to an earlier laser procedure, called a PRK. It does not require a flap in the cornea."It negates the dry eye scenario," said Belmont.

Frank Scalise still had significanly weaker vision in his right eye than his left after the two Lasiks. Dr. Belmont gave him a PRK to make the correction. "My visison is good now," smiled Scalise.

Patients seeking vision correction are advised to keep their eyes open and find out how many and what type of laser procedures a doctor has performed. In addition, learning what type of laser will be used is also important. Both doctor and laser matter for the best results. 

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