Giving up glasses and contacts: Options for permanent correction
August 18, 1999
Web posted at: 11:45 a.m. EDT (1545 GMT)
From Kathleen Doheny
Special to CNN Interactive
(CNN) -- At age 3, Carl Saxelby was fitted with his first pair of glasses. Ever since, he's depended on eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct nearsightedness so severe the Army turned him away.
Saxelby, now 51, learned to put up with the inconvenience: constant maintenance for the contact lenses, the hassles of wearing glasses sometimes.
Then in July, the Duarte, California, businessman decided he had had enough and underwent LASIK, the newest, hottest laser eye surgery.
Ten minutes after the procedure, he could read most of the eye chart. His visual acuity was measured at 20/70. Before, it was 20/825 and 20/850. The next day, his right eye was 20/50 and his left 20/25. By mid-August, his vision was good enough to drive without relying on his contact lenses.
"I'm pleased," he says. "I'm impressed."
LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) gets much of the attention because it is the newest way to zap away vision problems. But it's not the only option in refractive surgery -- the name given to a host of surgical procedures that correct vision problems by reshaping the cornea so that light entering the eye lands on the retina.
Today, eye doctors can choose from several options to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and other vision problems that can be performed in an office setting within 15 minutes and require only a local anesthetic to numb the eye. Just because LASIK is the newest surgery does not mean it is the best solution for everyone.
|LASIK||Laser assisted in situ keratomileusis|
|RK, AK||Radial keratotomy, astigmatic keratotomy|
|Intacs||Tiny rings placed in cornea|
|Corneal transplant||Healthy donor cornea replaces diseased/injured one|
|Cataract surgery||Primary operation requires eye incision|
Tailoring the surgery to the problem
An eye surgeon takes many factors into account when recommending the best surgery, including the thickness of the cornea, the patient's age, lifestyle and vision needs.
It's increasingly common to do surgery on both eyes at once, rather than one at a time, as was common practice until about two years ago, when surgical results weren't as predictable. "Now we are confident in the safety," Maloney says.