​It is one of the wonders of modern medicine and technology – the ability to improve vision and do away with spectacles or contact lenses. Whether for aesthetics or practical reasons, LASIK has gained popularity over recent years. But questions and myths over this procedure still abound. Let the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), a member of the Singhealth group, lay to rest some of the top misconceptions.

Myth: LASIK is done using a computer programme and can be performed just as well by any clinic so the main consideration is price.

Fact: There are many factors to consider other than price. These include the reputation of the centre and its audit system, the ability to ensure personalised reviews by the surgeons and the range of treatment options offered. As with any surgery – and LASIK is considered surgery – a surgeon’s skill and the level of care the centre offers is essential. The laser is only one of the tools that the surgeon uses to perform the procedure. The surgeon must also create and manipulate the corneal flap, a delicate surgical procedure that requires experience and skill.

Myth: Everyone is suitable for LASIK.

Fact: Not everyone is suitable for LASIK, those with thin corneas relative to the degree of improvement they want to achieve are not suitable for LASIK. People in certain jobs may also find LASIK unsuitable. Generally only a small number of people (about 10% or less) may be unsuitable.

However, there are many other refractive surgery options available and a reputable centre will be able to give advice on these other procedures. Thus, it is advantageous to go to a centre with a wide range of refractive surgery options and experience.

Myth: LASIK cannot be individualised.

Fact: LASIK can be tailored to an individual’s eye and requirements. Newer technology also means that treatments can be even more customised to a patient’s need and level of correction. Your surgeon will be able to advise on the most suitable treatment for you.

New LASIK programmes are also much more accurate and able to treat higher degree levels. In the past, the higher the degree a person had, the more cornea had to be removed, but LASIK technology now removes less tissue allowing for higher levels of vision correction.

It is important to choose a centre with a wide range of femtosecond and excimer laser machines to find the best match in technology to an individual’s requirement. Some refractive intraocular implants are also now available to treat extremes of myopia not amenable to LASIK surgery.

Myth: LASIK uses heat energy and people can smell the cornea being burnt.

Fact: The excimer is a ‘cool’ laser and does not use heat energy to remodel the cornea. However, there may still be an element of tissue vaporisation which may result in some smells present during the treatment.

Myth: LASIK is a new technology and no long-term studies have been done.

Fact: LASIK was first performed 20 years ago in 1989 by an ophthalmologist in Greece and then introduced to America in 1990. Since then, peer-reviewed publications have shown excellent safety, efficacy and stability results for eyes up to 10 years after LASIK, and millions of LASIK treatment worldwide have shown no unexpected long-term complications.

More myths and facts on the next page.

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