Dr. Matthew Sharpe- Founder of SharpeVision

By Dr. Matthew R. Sharpe

February 28, 2022

People often will ask about the LASIK astigmatism “success rate.” The LASIK success rate is difficult to put into a single number because different people have different ideas about what LASIK statistics they are talking about. The success rate of LASIK is very high, and the LASIK complication rate is very low. To put it into perspective, if you are wearing contact lenses daily, you have approximately 10 times the risk of infection wearing contact lenses as you do with LASIK.

LASIK Complication Rate

The LASIK complication rate is 10 times lower with regards to infection than that of contact lenses. It makes sense when you think about having a contact lens on your eye for all of your waking hours. There are bacteria on our eyelids that get washed away by our natural tears. With contact lenses it’s like having a tiny sponge full of bacteria sitting on your eye. The bacteria are much more likely to penetrate into your cornea and set up shop thereby creating an infection. After LASIK, there is a tiny risk of infection (1 in 15,000), but decreased further by the use of antibiotic drops for the first week postoperatively. After you’re healed (about a week with regards t9 infection), the risk of infection extraordinarily low. So when somebody asks me about the success rate of LASIK, I say it is extraordinarily high. How successful is LASIK? Let’s break it down here so you can see the different potential issues.

Laser eye surgery success rate is approximately 96% if you defined it as the percentage of people that achieve 20/20 or better vision postoperatively after LASIK or PRK.

Laser Eye Surgery Success Rate

The LASIK success rate can be fairly concretely defined as the percentage of people achieving 20/20 or better uncorrected vision. Think about this: this is amazing and incredible! If you knew that in seven minutes you could go from being totally dependent on glasses and contact lenses for a decade or more to not needing glasses to enjoy anything you want in your life. To top it off, you would save money. Would you do it? Surprisingly many people are still worried after 25 years of successful laser vision performance. I’m always amazed at how many my patients have parents who did LASIK or PRK 10 to 20 years ago. These patients are much more likely to go ahead with the procedure because they do know firsthand that it is safe, effective, costs ultimately less than what you would pay for glasses are contact lenses and is incredibly freeing so that you no longer need glasses or contact lenses when you wake up, enjoy water sports, travel etc. So why haven’t you already done it? Surveys tell us that most people still have fear of the procedure and believe some of the online myths.

LASIK failure rate is not even something we consider. When talking to patients who are considering laser vision correction surgery, we talk about the LASIK risks and the LASIK eye surgery side effects.

LASIK and PRK: Benefit vs. Risk

(hint: it’s a no-brainer. Contacts are much higher risk)

When assessing any medical procedure, one must always consider the risks versus the benefits. First we will talk about the benefits of laser vision correction eye surgery. There are two basic types of laser vision correction: LASIK and PRK. I highly recommend to anyone that they go to a reputable laser vision correction provider, such as SharpeVision MODERN LASIK. I have been doing laser vision correction for 24 years, and I’m one of the most experienced in the world. Our team at SharpeVision MODERN LASIK is likewise highly trained and experienced and is constantly training and improving the experience for you, the patient.

The benefits of laser vision correction are extraordinary. I always remember of a colleague who said, “What if we could make your life much better and for less money?” What he meant was that certainly most people would agree that their lives would be better if they did not have to have the prosthetic device of glasses or contacts on their eyes while they were working, reading, showering, any water sports, any place in the world where you might not have access to running water to wash your hands, or potentially be stranded with broken or lost glasses. What kind of peace of mind would that give you? Secondly, you can have this for less money than you’re currently spending on your glasses or contact lenses, contact lens solution and lens cases. Laser vision correction (see our price calculator https://sharpe-vision.com/pricing/) can save you thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars over your lifetime. But the best part is that you will be living your life seen clearly without any glasses or contact lenses. This is why you need to know the benefits.

The risks of laser vision correction surgery in experienced hands are extraordinarily low. I know it can be frightening to consider having someone “laser your eyes.“ But at SharpeVision MODERN LASIK, our process will make it as easy as possible. We will discuss everything at length beforehand, so you know what’s coming. During the procedure (which takes about 6 to 7 minutes) I will talk to you through it, so you know the basics of what is coming (I won’t tell you the stuff you don’t want to hear!) We always recommend taking the diazepam (Valium) that we offer. This will help you relax during the procedure. The first laser will cause you to feel pressure on your eye for about 20 seconds. During the second laser, you will just hear a zapping sound. I will go over all of this with you immediately prior to the procedure. Afterward you will say, “Wow, if I’d known it was that easy, I would have done this years ago! Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

The risks for almost everyone amount to two things: the first, and by far the most common, is a sensation of dryness for about one month or more following your LASIK procedure. The dryness can present as feeling dry, in which case you may feel more dry in the morning. The second symptom of dryness is foggy vision. Some people feel that in the first several weeks after the procedure their vision is foggier when they wake up versus when they went to sleep. This generally improves throughout the day. I recommend drinking more water than usual and liberally using the artificial tears for at least the first month following the procedure.

The second most common (and not very common at about 2% overall) is when someone has some residual prescription and needs a touchup or “enhancement.“ We generally wait about three months to perform an enhancement. It is slightly more likely on the higher prescriptions (above -6 dpt of nearsightedness) even for those patients who need an enhancement, their vision is virtually always good enough to pass a drivers test, but may not be quite as good as it could be with a perfect pair of glasses. This second procedure if needed occurs less than 1% of the time for patients who are below -4.0 dpt in their prescription. At SharpeVision, we do not charge for the enhancement. We do however offer a LASIK4LIFE policy, whereby if you need additional laser after the one year postoperative anniversary, we will not charge you again. We’ve found that about 1% of people need a touch up each year postoperatively. Another way of saying this is that about one out of 10 people will need additional laser over a ten-year period.

Everything outside of dryness and residual prescription is extraordinarily unusual. There can be problems making the flap and infection (approximately one in 15,000 patients). Almost everyone will have some degree of fogginess, glare and/or halos around lights in the first month. This typically decreases for a month or more and is most likely the result of dryness, just general healing, but also can be the result of residual prescription as described in the paragraph above. Dryness and residual prescription can improve for a month or more, and residual prescription can be fixed with additional laser.

Lasik eye surgery side effects are incredibly low, but you should know all the potential issues that are specific to you postoperatively. At SharpeVision, we go to extraordinary lengths to make sure that you make the best possible decision for yourself. We also perform the implantable contact lens (ICL), which is an excellent choice for those with extremely high prescriptions, cataract surgery, and refractive lens exchange. The alternative to not having vision correction surgery is to continue wearing your glasses or contact lenses with all the attendant infection risk, pain, blurry vision, difficulties, dependency, and expense.

At SharpeVision, our mission is to allow anyone regardless of age, prescription amount, or visual needs to come into SharpeVision dependent on glasses or contact lenses and leave with freedom from them . Please come see us by scheduling your completely free comprehensive exam to see how we can best get you out of glasses and contact lenses. Thank you for reading!

Dr. Matthew Sharpe- Founder of SharpeVision

Dr. Matthew R. Sharpe

Dr. Matthew Sharpe is an Ophthalmologist specializing in refractive surgery and the owner SharpeVision MODERN LASIK & LENS, with offices in Seattle, Austin, and Chicago. Dr. Sharpe is a world traveler, pianist, marathon runner, motorcyclist, and fluent French speaker. He enjoys every second of life, but finds he is happiest at home cheering on The Ohio State Buckeyes with his wife, three children, and four dogs.
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