LASIK for mild nearsightedness?
October 16, 2007 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Considering LASIK (or other laser eye surgery) for relatively mild nearsightedness. Experiences? Statistics?

My prescription is -1.50 in one eye, -1.25 in the other. My vision is roughly 20/70 without glasses, 20/15 with. Have you, or someone you know, had laser eye surgery for similarly mild nearsightedness? What was your/their experience? Also, how long ago was the procedure done?

I'm also interested in statistics on results and complications for LASIK with mild nearsightedness, if anyone's aware of any—most of the figures I've seen don't do much in the way of breaking it down by degree of nearsightedness.

I've seen this question, which has a few responses in that vein, but that was 3.5 years ago, and I'm looking for additional tales.

I'm aware that having such a procedure done would be risking more than someone who had really horrible vision to start out with, and will take that into account in making a decision.
posted by DevilsAdvocate to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Here are a few more relevant questions.
posted by ND¢ at 8:37 AM on October 16, 2007

Best answer: I was -2.25 right, -2.5 left. Had the surgery in July 2005, and it was perfect for me. Now I'm somewhere between 20/10 and 20/15 (so I call myself 20/12.5).

The surgery does NOT hurt (not even a little teensy bit) and they don't knock you out; you just get to relax a bit and sleep later. :) I wore protective goggles for about a week, IIRC, and put in eye drops for a year (lots at first, then little bits after that). The biggest adjustment for me was to NOT rub my eyes in the morning for the first year; even though the corneal flap seals almost instantly, you can shift it if you're not careful.

Good luck!
posted by tigerjade at 8:51 AM on October 16, 2007

After reading all of the potential problems, I felt that it wasn't a good idea for mild nearsightedness (ie, if you still use 20/40 notation for your prescription).

Once you are basically some degree of bat-blind and talk about diopters (-3, -4, -10) then it's very much worth it. I was a -5 / -5.5 and it's been great for me. But one of my coworkers had it done and went from perfect vision (but needing glasses) to vision uncorrectable by any means.

(That said, I had my eyes done 3 years ago. Improvements in technique and understanding may make the risk worth it even in mild cases these days.)
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 9:14 AM on October 16, 2007

I was -3.50 left and -4.50 right - more nearsighted than you, but Lasik worked marvels on me. My vision is now 20/20.

One caveat: Go to a reputable clinic or doctor's office that has experienced surgeons who know what they are doing - DO NOT go to any one of those fly-by-night "Lasik for less" type places. I went to the UC Berkeley Laser Eye Clinic - more expensive, but great results and I recommend it to anyone in the area.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:17 AM on October 16, 2007

Best answer: I have never had LASIK, but I can point you to some statistics on results for people with vision similar to yours. I started at the list of FDA-approved lasers used in LASIK surgery -- I believe they're required to report this kind of data about the effectiveness of the devices.

I clicked on "Summary" [PDF] for the first device in that list, the Zeiss MEL 80, and found a summary on p. 19: in this study, 100% of patients with preoperative MRSE of 1.00-2.00 had 20/20 vision at a 3-month checkup after LASIK. This application is dated 2006.

The figures for the Wavelight Allegretto Wave [PDF, p. 11] are lower: at 3 months, of patients in the same preoperative range, 74.3-83.6% had 20/20 vision, while 95.5-99.2% had 20/40 vision or better. (I skimmed the document and am not sure why there are ranges, rather than concrete figures, for this device.) The application is from 2003.

The Technolas 217A [PDF, p. 34] reports 100% at 20/40 and 85.7% at 20/20, also at the 3-month mark. The application is dated

I'm a librarian, not a doctor, so you will of course want to check in with your doctor about specific devices, complications, and rates of success.
posted by Siobhan at 9:38 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

(sorry -- the application for the Technolas is dated 2000.)
posted by Siobhan at 9:46 AM on October 16, 2007

Best answer: That's right about where I was when I got LASIK done in 2002. I'm loving it and don't understand why everyone I know hasn't done it. ;)
posted by iguanapolitico at 10:15 AM on October 16, 2007

I was a little more nearsighted than you, now better than 20/20 1&1/2 years out and very happy with the results.

However you'll be on eyedrops for the rest of your life (I use celluvisc in the morning and sometimes before going to sleep, and artificial tears as needed - from a few times a day to not needing it).
posted by porpoise at 11:44 AM on October 16, 2007

One thing to consider is that LASIK can make presbyopia worse. Presbyopia is the condition as you enter your 40s that makes it difficult to focus up close for reading without reading glasses. This is due to aging of the lens. LASIK will make your eyes focus better at a distance. It will reduce your ability to focus up close as you age. You are trading nearsightedness for farsightedness. This may mean not even being able to read the speedometer on your car without reading glasses. It will be interesting in coming years to see if all these people rushing into LASIK are disappointed as they enter their 40s and 50s and find that they can no longer read a thing without glasses far earlier than would be otherwise.
posted by JackFlash at 11:59 AM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

Personal anecdotal followup: I never, ever need eyedrops. I used them for a month or two or whatever the recovery period was (according to my doctor's orders), but now I never even think that I might possibly need a drop. Really, it's heavenly being LASIKed. If you're me, anyway.
posted by iguanapolitico at 1:25 PM on October 16, 2007

Unlike others in this thread, I had awful pain the day of surgery, in one eye. That was a bad, bad day. I only used eyedrops for as long as my doctor said to, and no longer. I have been thrilled with the results (I think it has been about four years since I had it done) and despite the rocky start, my vision has been beautifully clear ever since.
posted by pinky at 1:41 PM on October 16, 2007

The thing with the eyedrops; some of the nerves in the cornea are severed so the affected eye stops being able to sense that it's dry.

The prescription eyedrops have antiinflammatory steroids &c. in them, the daily eyedrops are the keep the eye lubricated and prevents accumulating damage from dryness.

posted by porpoise at 2:06 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Lasik worked perfectly for me. Didn't even need eyedrops beyond the prescribed time. But I had much worse vision than you (20/175), so perhaps I'm not the best person to give advice for someone who has a far milder case of myopia.

As far as risks go, I should mention that I do remember reading that contact lenses pose far greater risks to your eyes statistically than Lasik does. Unfortunately, a cursory Googling can't find those statistics, so you'll just have trust that I got those from a reputable source.

Who knows, maybe I'm just remembering some promotional material. Can any other MeFites recall those statistics?
posted by Weebot at 6:53 PM on October 16, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses, everyone! Especially Siobahn—exactly the sort of statistics I was looking for.

Weebot: in doing some research on my own, I did come across a study which concluded that the incidence of eye infections was greater with contacts than with LASIK. But of course infections are only one of many possible complications.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:05 AM on October 17, 2007

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