Lasik Eye Surgery, Seeing the Big Picture

July 20, 2009 6:42:50 PM PDT
Laser eye surgery has become one of the most popular options to correct vision. Laura Nagy has been wearing glasses for 10 years and hopes this will be the last time she needs them.Laura Nagy said, "I'm looking forward to playing tennis without glasses, to go skiing, to go scuba diving without glasses."

She's about to undergo laser vision correction surgery.

"I think it will totally change my life," said Nagy.

The surgery itself is fairly simple. A laser is used to reshape the cornea, often reducing the need for glasses and contacts.

A Consumer Reports health survey of about 800 Americans who've had laser eye surgery since 2001 shows about 80 percent of them were "highly satisfied" with the results.

But 53% of respondents experienced at least one side effect such as halos, light sensitivity or blurry vision. And 22% still had problems six months after the surgery.

While every surgery carries risks, Dr. John Santa of Consumer Reports Health says one of the best ways to protect yourself is by doing your homework.

Dr. John Santa said, "When looking for a surgeon, you want a board-certified ophthalmologist who does at least 250 procedures a year."

And make sure you go into the surgery with realistic expectations.

"55% of the people in our survey still need to wear glasses or contacts at least some of the time after surgery," said Dr. Santa.

And many people will need reading glasses when they hit 40. Still, laser eye surgery can be an effective measure for improving people's vision. And it turns out the most common regret from those surveyed was not doing it sooner.

Consumer Reports says not everyone is a good candidate for Lasik eye surgery. A reputable laser center will prescreen patients.

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