LASIK eye surgery has been performed for nearly twenty years in the U.S.,
and recent findings from two FDA studies (PROWL-1 and PROWL-2) reveal that
more than 96 percent of patients are satisfied with their results three months after surgery. According to Key-Whitman
President and Chief Surgeon Jeffrey Whitman, M.D., “Satisfaction rates would have been even higher had survey respondents
been questioned after follow up enhancements were performed.”
If you take a closer look at the current numbers, the 96+ percent were
those patients who realized 20/20 vision post-surgery. Of those who couldn’t
see 20/20, the results (prior to any follow-up enhancements) were still
exceedingly good. According to a report on the findings in
Ocular Surgery News, U.S. Edition (OSN) last month, no eyes in either of the PROWL studies “had BCVA
(best-corrected visual acuity) worse than 20/40.” Says Dr. Whitman,
“The biggest reason people were dissatisfied was either that their
vision wasn’t fully corrected or they had a slight treatment regression.”
What’s even more exciting is the giant leap forward in patient satisfaction
compared to earlier studies. In the OSN report, Kerry D. Solomon, M.D.,
OSN Refractive Surgery Board Member states, “The visual outcomes
are the best prospective outcomes that have been reported … In
fact, if you look at the [earlier] data, I think our 20/20 rate was around
60 percent, compared to 99 percent and 96 percent with this current study.”
Common side effects actually IMPROVE post-surgery
Just as encouraging as the patients’ high satisfaction with vision
correction is the finding that the side effects scaring some people away
from LASIK in the past – glare, starbursts, halos and night driving
issues – were actually less than they were preoperatively. Another
critical finding reported in the OSN piece is in the past both “poor
visual outcomes and symptoms” were often a result of “poor
patient screening and selection.”
Dr. Whitman explains how the LASIK prescreening process works.
Dr. Whitman can’t stress enough the importance of the prescreening
LASIK is a terrific option for many of our patients, some people just flat out are not good candidates for LASIK. Fortunately,
with the modern equipment and technology we have available at Key-Whitman
today, we can rule out patients much better today than we could 10 or
20 years ago,” he says.
The PROWL studies support Dr. Whitman’s approach. He adds, “While
not every person can expect to realize 20/20 vision correction after LASIK
– or even be a candidate for LASIK – our patients have more
vision correction options available now than ever before. Other options
we offer include ICL or Intraocular Contact Lens, PRK and corneal inlays.
Prospective patients should be cautious however and ask if their provider
offers these other options.”
Prescreening and treatment of eye issues prior to LASIK improves outcomes
“One of the reasons some patients had less than satisfactory LASIK
results in the past was when their eye doctor either overlooked or didn’t
have the technology available for screening for certain eye diseases and
conditions, which can interfere with an optimum LASIK outcome. Today,
if a patient is suffering from dry eye symptoms, irregular corneal surface,
retinal tears or other problems that we can diagnose and treat successfully,
then they may eventually be a good candidate for LASIK surgery,”
Dr. Whitman says.
Full-service eye centers like Key-Whitman also offer
Intraocular Contact Lens (ICL) implants and
Photoreactive Keratectomy (PRK), which is similar to LASIK but may be safer for patients with thin corneas
and other issues. Some patients who have undergone successful cataract
surgery may also be candidates for a current clinical trial for a new
corneal inlay designed to correct nearsightedness.
LASIK candidates have little to be fearful about today
At the end of the day, Dr. Whitman hopes the results of the FDA PROWL studies
will help put people’s fears about LASIK to rest. Says Dr. Whitman,
“The No. 1 concern I hear from patients is that they are afraid
of having surgery on their eyes. It’s not money, it’s not
the technology, and it’s not that they don’t believe the surgery
works. Some patients are just afraid to have the surgery done.”
With the PROWL study results in hand, LASIK eye surgeons should be able
to reduce fear and give patients a renewed set of confidence about the
effectiveness of the procedure as well as the bonus of reducing the glare,
halo and starburst side effects in many patients post-surgery.
Dr. Whitman finds that listening to patients’ concerns and educating
them about what to expect helps put his patients’ minds at ease.
“We make it very clear to patients how LASIK works, when they can
expect their vision to improve and share one of the most important points,
that they shouldn’t have pain during or after the procedure. The
patient also learns what steps they need to take after surgery to help
ensure their eyes heal properly (medications, eye drops, follow-up visits,
Leading-edge LASIK technology reduces healing time, improves accuracy
Asking LASIK eye surgeons about the technologies they use in LASIK can
help patients make an informed decision. “At Key-Whitman we use
lasers for the two key steps in the LASIK procedure, creating the flap
and reshaping the cornea – no blades are used at all. Because we
use the fastest and most advanced lasers available in the world, less
heat is generated, which reduces inflammation and healing time.
This new LASIK technology is also more precise than earlier lasers, which is another reason our
patient outcomes have improved,” Dr. Whitman says.
Dr. Whitman explains what he loves most about being a LASIK eye surgeon.
(NOTE: LASIK results will vary from patient to patient, and as with any
surgical procedure, outcomes cannot be guaranteed.)
If you ever have the opportunity to meet Dr. Whitman or hear him talk
about the LASIK or cataract surgeries he regularly performs, you won’t
catch a bigger smile on his face than when he talks about patient outcomes.
He really loves helping people improve their vision. “It’s
great to see my patients’ faces after surgery, when they can see
20/20 again and know they get to throw their glasses away.”* For
Dr. Whitman, it’s all in a day’s work. * As with any surgical
procedure, LASIK surgery is not suitable for everyone, not without risks
and 20/20 vision following the surgery cannot be guaranteed. To find out
if you’re a good candidate for LASIK, speak with your ophthalmologist.