Friday, February 28, 2014

Is Lasik Safe for You?

‘I’m getting rid of my glasses!’ 20 years old Sanya announced to her parents one Sunday afternoon. ‘I have decided that I want to undergo LASIK,’ she said. ‘What rubbish.’ ‘It is a surgery after all. Not just something you decide on a whim’, ‘Do you know how unsafe it is?’ and ‘What is it that you are hiding behind your back?’ did her father. Sanya chuckled to herself. This is something she had anticipated. Out came a bunch load of papers that she had been holding behind her back, waiting for the right time.
‘It’s not just a whim Dad. I have done a lot of research on the internet on which is the best eye hospital in Mumbai, who is the best LASIK surgeon, which is the best type of LASIK. And Mom, millions of people undergo LASIK every year.’ She tried coaxing her parents. A week and lots of heated discussions later, Sanya triumphantly sought an appointment at an eye hospital. As they waited for their turn, her mother whispered, ‘Sanya, remember we just agreed to come check out the place. Only if we feel that it’s ok will we give it a thought.’ She just hugged her mother as her father sighed.
 Soon, they found themselves in the surgeon’s cabin. Sanya could hardly contain her excitement. But the LASIK Surgeon soon poured a bucketful of water over her enthusiasm, ‘Sanya, it’s your eyes after all. We would not like to jump in head first just like that.’
She was confused and irritated as she saw her father sink into his chair with a sigh of relief. ‘LASIK is one of the safest surgeries, only as long as you are the right candidate. There are a number of things that need to be considered like the thickness of your cornea, the surface of your cornea and various other factors. We will run a few tests for your eyes. If any of these show that you cannot undergo LASIK, I will not perform the procedure on you.’
Here are some tests Sanya underwent to check if she was eligible for the procedure:
Corneal Topography: This test studies the surface map of the cornea (the outer dome shaped layer of the eye). Those with corneal abnormalities are advised against LASIK.
Corneal Pachymetry and OCT: This test measures the thickness of the cornea. The thickness of the cornea is examined since those with abnormally thin corneas are at a higher risk of developing corneal weakness.
Aberrometry and contrast sensitivity: This is measured to rule out any major aberrations in the optical system of the eye as that can influence the type of technique used to perform the procedure.
Orthoptic Check Up: Some people tend to have minor muscle alignment troubles. Here the balance of one’s eye muscles and depth perception ability is checked before undergoing LASIK.
IOL Master to assess disparity in length between the two eyes if any as that can have a bearing on the kind of correction that can be performed safely.
Detailed Refraction: This is done to measure the exact prescription. One’s eyes are dilated so as to measure the true vision if one did not focus too hard.
Dry Eyes Tests: This is done to rule out pre-existing dry eye. Here Lid margins, tear film stability, surface of the eye and the amount of tear secretion (Schirmer’s Test) are evaluated
Evaluation of Eye Pressure:  This is done to rule out glaucoma, a disease where high pressures in the eye can lead to damage to the optic nerve.
Fundoscopy: This test is done for the evaluation of the retina or the photosensitive layer at the back of the eye and also the Optic Nerve head (Disc) to rule out pre-existing abnormality

Finally, after undergoing a battery of tests the LASIK surgeon was convinced that Sanya was eligible for the procedure. Also it convinced her parents that their daughter’s eyes were in excellent hands and she wasn’t being conned into undergoing the procedure.

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