Not everyone is right for Lasik

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 5, 2000


Friday, May 05, 2000

Dr. Jeffrey Anderson of Family Eye Care knows not every person with nearsightedness or farsightedness is a perfect candidate for Lasik surgery.

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"The main criteria is expectations," Anderson explained. "If their expectations are too high, they’re not a good candidate."

Lasik surgery is one of three popular types of eye surgery for correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism in the United States. They are all covered under the blanket heading of "refractive surgery," and they are surgeries that alter the surface of the eye.

"They actually work – and this may sound a little barbaric but it’s what works best – by making a flap on the front surface of the eye, turning the flap over, and in Lasik they use the laser on that flap and turn it back over," Anderson explained.

Anderson said Lasik surgery actually is the least painful of the three forms of surgery. Radial keratotomy uses a knife to make cuts in the eye; PRK uses a laser to scrape off the front surface of the eye.

No one in Austin offers the surgery, because the laser is very expensive, Anderson said. He generally sends his patients to one of several surgeons in the Twin Cities.

"It’s an option I bring up for most of my patients," Anderson said. "I think I owe it to my patients to let them know every option available."

There are some criteria that may indicate the surgery isn’t a good option for patients – if they have certain diseases, if their cornea is too thin, or if as Anderson said, they are expecting to have perfect vision when the surgery is over. Improvement is often remarkable, he emphasized, but eyes will continue to age after surgery, which means there will be some continued vision loss, and not everyone sees the same improvement.

Most insurance companies do not cover the surgery, which Anderson said could run about $3,800 for a reputable surgeon to work on both eyes.