As both a delighted recipient and high end provider of laser eye surgery, one thing has always baffled me – why do more people not allow themselves the benefit of this wonderful operation?
Over the course of my career I have managed patients from practices that have carried out a combined total of well over 100,000 vision correction procedures. Millions of people have now had laser eye surgery carried out successfully worldwide.
Of course there are plenty of stories of patients who have had problems – normally when the surgery has been carried out on the high street where either the Surgeon, the technology or the consultation process (patient selection and properly informed consent) were not of the highest calibre.
In the right hands it is exceptionally rare for significant problem to occur. Ask any reputable Cornea and Refractive Surgeon and they will all tell you the same thing; contact lens related problems, many of which can be sight threatening, albeit also rare are much more frequently encountered than any significant problems from laser eye surgery.
There is now 20 year research data showing the stability and long term safety of laser eye surgery in properly selected patients. Why then do more people then not undergo this operation? I used to wrongly assume that the cost/price was prohibitive but finding out what many people pay regularly for contact lenses as well as expensive glasses quickly dispelled this myth. Especially given that there are now options for interest free monthly payments for surgery.
After much thought I have concluded that the thing that really holds people back is the fear of the unknown. There is much misleading and overly commercial advertising in the laser eye surgery world which understandably makes both patients and referring opticians skeptical about the real benefits of surgery. Then there is the ‘taking the plunge’ barrier where patients worry about undergoing the procedure itself – will it be painful? what if something goes wrong? I don’t like the idea of someone going near my eyes? The reality is that the surgery should not be painful or unpleasant and most people go near their eyes all the time when using contact lenses!
I have just come back from a wonderful skiing holiday with my family where my own 20/12 (6/4) unaided vision following laser eye surgery allowed me to see every contour of the snow in high detail which I was never able to prior to having had laser eye surgery when I was wearing glasses or contact lenses. One of the things on the flight home that struck me was how many fellow skiers were wearing glasses – unable to enjoy the experience of skiing in the same uninhibited way (glasses misting up, contact lenses causing dryness and irritation). If only these people knew what I know and were able to conquer what is essentially an uninformed fear they would more than likely get so much more out of this experience as well as so many more life experiences for which we want and need the best unaided vision possible.