Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Surgery vs contacts

If I ask you which is safer: eye surgery or wearing contact lenses - you'd probably pick the latter, right? In an article from WebMD, researchers looked at the complications of the eye surgery called LASIK and compared them to complications of wearing contact lenses. The research will be published in this month's edition of the Archives of Ophthalmology. Gee, guess what the findings were? Bias? You be the judge.
Based on their review of several large studies, ophthalmologist William Mathers, MD, and colleagues concluded that daily contact lens wearers have about a one in 100 chance of developing a serious lens-related eye infection over 30 years of use, and a one in 2,000 chance of suffering significant vision loss as a result. The researchers calculated the risk of significant vision loss due to LASIK surgery to be closer to one in 10,000 cases.
The articles goes on to outline the bad habits of contact lens patients - whether it's not making sure your fingers are clean before inserting contacts (prevents infection) or sleeping with your contact lenses in. The big finish to the article is describing the advances in LASIK surgery over the past 15 years.

The bottom line is this. There are people who take good care of their contact lenses, and there are people who do not. Just like there are good surgeons who have low complications and not-so-good surgeons who have more complications. Do your own research before considering surgery or any medical therapy for that matter. That's your Dr. A Health Tip Of The Day. HA!


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Lea said...

Oh Doc A, I wish I could have LASIK! My vision is just horrible!

My evaluation determined that my cornea is too thin for this surgery. However, the Op. told me he could perform PRK, which cuts the cornea and then fixes the vision via laser. I'm scared of it. One eye at a time, longer recovery, more infection, etc. Your opinion?

Dr. A said...

First of all, let me say that messing with the eyes is a big deal. Be very careful when making this decision.

People have anecdotal extreme cases on both sides of the issue. People that love it say so, and people that know someone with a complication say so - maybe louder.

Any surgery, whether it be LASIK surgery, or knee replacement, or heart bypass, or whatever, depends on the surgeon doing the procedure. You have to know how many real procedures this doc has done - and your specific surgery that they are talking about.

There is not a public website, yet, which lists the number of procedures a surgeon has done. Docs that do a large volume, usually, are proud of this and say in this promotional literature. You don't want to be their first "real" patient after they have done lots of practice cases or they just got back from a training seminar. Also, ask around to friends and colleagues. They can tell you how their experience went. Hope this is helpful...

Anonymous said...

Interesting article. What I have heard recently that surprised me was that corrective surgery does help people with distance vision (hurrah no more contacts or glasses) but actually that isn't entirely the case. Apparently Lasik corrects your eye to where it should be so eventhough you can now see distance your eyes are still old, so you may not need glasses to see far distances but now you need them to read!
Have I mentioned that eyes are one thing that completely creeps me out... haha.

Dr. A said...

Actually, that's correct. I've had patients told me that the "marketing" is such that LASIK is the solution for glasses/contacts. But, in reality, that overcorrection or complete correction may not happen, so glasses, albeit not as strong as pre-surgery, are still required. Hope that made sense - I'm really wordy sometimes...

Anonymous said...

I'm sticking with my plain old glasses, thanks!

Dream Mom said...

I would love to have Lasik surgery. I have terrible eyesight, wear contacts during the day and need eyeglasses just to walk to my bed.

I went to a well known Lasik surgeon's office a few years back, and was totally uncomfortable with the office. I asked many questions including who exactly would be doing the surgery-this surgeon or one of his "associates". Well, you know the answer to that. I asked all of the usual questions and just did not get a good feeling about this office so I left and never came back.

I will have it done eventually, but I have to be very comfortable with the surgeon.

I hate not being able to see without my glasses. It used to give me the creeps to travel and then not be able to see well enough to identify an intruder, even if he were six inches away. I can't see clear at any distance and don't like it. I hate wearing glasses and look forward to the day when I never have to wear them again.

Anonymous said...

I believe I'll keep my contacts, thank you! :o)

Lea said...

I'm like you Dream Mom. I have to wear my glasses to walk to bed, otherwise a cat, dog or piece of furniture is going to get stepped on.
I think we have a pretty good understanding of how it is to not be able to see and are extrememly cautious about having surgery on our eyes. I can't imagine having complications and my sight declining even more.
Thanks Doc A for your opinion!