New Lens Technology Provides Alternatives to LASIK

Although LASIK surgery has become increasingly popular as a 15-minute outpatient procedure that produces almost instant visual improvement in many patients, it is not a foolproof solution for long-term health, especially for those younger than 20.

Most eye prescriptions stabilize by age 18, but many continue to change throughout the 20s. Operating on developing eyes can result in poor outcomes. With the average cost of LASIK being about $1,710 per eye, physicians recommend waiting until the eyes have established a prescription.

“At first I was happy with LASIK, but now my vision’s not so great,” said Deisi Blankfeld, who had surgery after wearing gas permeable contact lenses for 23 years. “I’d hate to go back after already incurring the risks and the expense of surgery. How many touch-ups will I need?”

High cost and risk are not the only factors that have patients seeking alternatives. Weather and sunshine play a role, too.

A recent study in the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery found that temperature and humidity could affect LASIK results. In addition, the number of eyes requiring an enhancement procedure increased by 50 percent during high humidity.

People who want to drop glasses should consider the need to protect their eyes from the sun. UV can result in eye damage, including photokeratitis or “sunburn” of the eye. UV damage is cumulative and can add to age-related diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts, the leading causes of blindness.

Surgery alternatives are abundant and appealing – many cheaper and beneficial. Contact lenses come in a variety of colors and uses, disposable or permanent, and day and nighttime wear. Contacts provide a safe choice, as long as they are coupled with 100 percent UV-blocking sunglasses.

Eyeglasses are in style and offer a variety of beneficial options. Photochromics, prescription eyeglass lenses that darken when exposed to UV, are becoming an increasingly popular pick. Many eye care professionals report that the number of photochromic lenses sold has nearly doubled in recent years and now account for nearly 20 percent of all lenses. Parents have noted that photochromics are a great choice to get children to wear glasses, since they are fun.

Prescription lens wearers might want to consider photochromics from Transitions Optical. Transitions Lenses provide automatic protection and block 100 percent of UV rays, while reducing glare and adjusting to all light conditions for everyday comfort and convenience, with built-in scratch resistance. – NU

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