Glasses are a pretty good look, more people are realizing. (Photo: Getty Images)
Lasik eye surgery, which took the US by storm in around 2000, is on the decline, dropping more than 50 percent, from about 1.5 million surgeries in 2007 to 604,000 in 2015, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Why are fewer people getting laser vision correction surgeries — which include Lasik and the closely related PRK procedure? The reasons seem to vary.
Personally, I was a prime candidate for the surgery during its heyday in the 2000s. I initially put it off strictly out of fear – the idea of lasers slicing into my eyes just wasn’t something I could get comfortable with.
“I can’t tell you exactly why Lasik volumes are down, but there are some ideas and theories” Dr. Kerry Solomon, president of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery told the Tribune. “One is that the economy hasn’t fully recovered. Two, we’re dealing with a different generation, millennials, and millennials make decisions differently, maybe they have different priorities.”
In more recent years, there’s been a lot of coverage of Lasik treatments eventually degrading, which makes the whole “throw out your glasses” campaign seem a little misleading. I spoke with Sabrina, who had the surgery in 2004, about degrading eyesight. She said her sight “degraded in one eye. I got glasses last year, but just for seeing at dusk or in dim lighting.”
But Sabrina is still happy with her choice to have the procedure. “I had an astigmatism and nearsightedness, so when I got Lasik, my contacts were both really expensive (toric lenses) and uncomfortable. I can still wake up and see the clock and go on vacation and not worry about contact solution or losing a lens at the wrong moment.”
She also pointed out that glasses have become really fashionable, “I can wear glasses when I go out at night and it feels like a fun accessory.“
Lasik complications definitely happen, but how often? Anti-Lasik advocates claim serious complications are common, and eye surgeons, who cite patient satisfaction rates of 95 percent and higher, saying serious complications are rare, the Tribune reports.
The FDA is taking steps to address the issue with its Lasik Quality of Life Collaboration Project, the results of which haven’t yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. You can read their initial findings here.