Just the Facts About…
Laser Surgery and Night Vision

     The Canadian Medical Association has clearly stated that the degree of possible visual loss directly resulting from refractive surgery is not known. Lately, there have been many media reports that laser refractive surgery is dangerous and could provoke a permanent loss of night vision. This claim, although untrue, has created a great deal of confusion for patients who are thinking about undergoing the surgery. If this is your case, here are some facts that will help clarify matters about laser surgery.

Determining if you are a good candidate is essential. To reduce the risks of the procedure and its side effects, your optometrist needs to determine if you are a good candidate for the surgery. By examining your eyes, and asking you a variety of questions, he or she will be able to recommend if the surgery should be performed. You should also be aware that your vision can change after the surgery, and glasses for reading or performing near-distance tasks might still be prescribed.

Lower cost surgery might not be the best surgery: Sometimes when you get a good deal, you might be missing something with the bargain. Although the surgery will be performed in the same way by all surgeons, the lower cost surgery might not include the same amount of pre-surgery information and post-surgery follow-ups. These are the two most important elements to minimize risk and ensure a successful surgery. So, choose your clinic and your surgeon wisely. Also consider the cost of post surgery follow-ups and whether you can have these done in a convenient location by the surgeon or by your optometrist.

Side effects are rare, but can happen: Most patients do not experience significant side effects. However, there is a risk of rare complication. For some of these, the side effects experienced - halos around lights, glare, loss of best corrected vision - can be permanent. Usually these side effects can be avoided through proper patient selection.

Don't neglect follow up examinations: The surgery will only be completely successful if you follow the doctor's recommendations and return for your check up exams. For many patients, it is necessary to undergo several assessments in the first six months, then once every 3 months until the first anniversary of the surgery, and regular eye examinations thereafter, to look for any changes in your vision and in your eyes' health condition.

     Just as with any other surgeries, laser refractive surgery involves some kind of risk and side effects, especially for patients who might not be the ideal candidates. However, despite all the media reports, only a very small number of patients have experienced these side effects so far, and the surgery has proven successful in the vast majority of cases. If you have any question about this surgery do not hesitate to talk to your optometrist. He or she is your most informed resource to help you go through all the steps of the procedure, from beginning to end.

Dr. Steve Briggs - Dr. Liane Pitre 1701 3rd Ave. East, Owen Sound, Ont. N4K 2M3 (519) 376-3937