Tired of wearing glasses or contact lenses? Considering Lasik eye surgery? Before you sign up for the procedure, get the clear picture on what you can expect. So suggests the Federal Trade Commission in its new consumer brochure, "Basik Lasik: Tips on Lasik Eye Surgery." The free brochure, produced in cooperation with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, discusses the facts about Lasik surgery, its risks and possible complications, how to decide if you're a candidate for the procedure, how to shop for a surgeon, and what to expect before, during and after surgery.
"Thousands of consumers see better because of Lasik eye surgery," said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "But it's not necessarily right for everyone. Consumers should talk to their doctors about their expectations, as well as the risks and possible complications of the surgery. There's no point in being short-sighted about your vision."
"There's a lot of information out there about procedures like LASIK, but unfortunately it's not all accurate. The Academy and the FTC both felt there was a real need for unbiased information to help people make informed decisions about their health care. We believe this brochure provides the most current and accurate information available for people considering LASIK," said H. Dunbar Hoskins, Jr., M.D., Executive Vice President, American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Lasik, one of the newest procedures for vision correction, is surgery to a very delicate part of the eye. A special device cuts a hinged flap of thin corneal tissue off the outer layer of the eyeball (cornea) and the flap is lifted out of the way. The laser reshapes the underlying corneal tissue, and the surgeon replaces the flap, which quickly adheres to the eyeball. There are no stitches. A shield - either clear plastic or perforated metal - is placed over the eye to protect the flap.
While hundreds of thousands of people have had Lasik, most very successfully, it is not for everyone. Your eye doctor and refractive surgeon can tell you what's best for your particular situation. But, even if you have the surgery, you may not get the perfect vision you're hoping for.
That's because 20/20 does not always mean perfect vision. And if you have Lasik to correct your distance vision, you may still need reading glasses around age 45. You also may need to return for additional surgery, called "enhancements," to fine-tune your vision. Also, Lasik is too new to know if there are any long-term ill effects beyond five years after surgery and the procedure cannot be reversed. All of these, and more, are important considerations for consumers.
For consumers who decide to proceed, the brochure gives tips on how to find a qualified surgeon and what questions to ask about the surgery, success rates, risks and possible complications, and after-surgery care. Because Lasik surgery is not for everyone, the brochure lists surgical alternatives consumers may want to discuss with their eye doctor.
Copies of the brochure, "Basik Lasik: Tips on Lasik Eye Surgery," are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
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