Friday, June 02, 2006

Dazzled by the light

Does anybody involved with ophthalmic medicine ever consider having LASIK corrective surgery? I know I wouldn't.
I'm myopic. I wear glasses. Have done since age 11. I never considered wearing contact lenses, but I might have been tempted to go for laser surgery. It's that word 'laser'. It's a magic word. It suggests shining a beam of light into the eye and healing it in seconds. No pain. No needles, no scalpels. I get patients coming for cataract surgery who think it's going to be done by lasers. I tell them we use ultrasound. They smile and nod knowingly - it's another type of laser!
Funny how the adverts on TV for laser surgery don't mention the slicing away of the front of the cornea.
How should one advise patients who ask about having it done. I tell them, as above, that I wouldn't personally, but is it ethical to say to them "there's only half a millimetre of tissue between the conents of your eyeball and the outside world, which is going to thin as you get older, and you're wanting to chop out half of it now?"
(I'm not sure how much cornea they remove, but half sounds most dramatic.)
In twenty years time, are we going to see a rush of corneal perforations, and an upswing of corneal graft surgery? I just don't know.

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