ANNOUNCER: For Steven, a few minutes under a computer-guided laser ended two decades of dependency on glasses and contacts.
Steven, LASIK Patient: I've been wearing glasses for 20 years. I'd never imagined what it would be like not having to deal with it.
ANNOUNCER: Steven was one of about a million Americans annually to have LASIK eye surgery. During the procedure, a thin layer of corneal tissue is cut and folded back. The surgeon then uses a laser to correct the shape of the cornea.
Christopher Coad, MD, Eye Surgeon: So you can kind of think of this as etching your contact lens prescription right into the corneal tissue and then putting the front part of the eye back as a band-aid so you heal very quickly.
ANNOUNCER: Introduced in the mid 1990s, LASIK is now the most common surgical procedure to correct vision problems. But there are risks.
Christopher Coad, MD, Eye Surgeon: Things such as halos and night vision issues. The more serious ones would be infection, which is why many of us will pretreat with antibiotic eye drops and post-treat with antibiotic eye drops.
ANNOUNCER: When it comes to risk of serious infection, LASIK may be safer than contact lenses, according to a recent report in the Archives of Ophthalmology. Still, LASIK is not for everyone.
Christopher Coad, MD, Eye Surgeon: We want stable vision before we perform the procedure so if your prescription's continually changing every couple months, you're probably not a candidate for laser vision correction.
ANNOUNCER: Other health issues like uncontrolled diabetes or glaucoma can also be a problem.
Christopher Coad, MD, Eye Surgeon: No one can tell you whether you're an excellent candidate for laser vision correction until a full eye exam has been done.
ANNOUNCER: Steven was glad that LASIK worked for him.
Steven, LASIK Patient: Opening your eyes for the first time is pretty amazing, not having to fumble in the bathroom for your contacts or look around for your glasses.
ANNOUNCER: Thanks for joining us on today's Once Daily.