When my three-year-old daughter blows a dandelion seed or says a prayer during church, she always wishes “that my family will be happy and healthy forever!” I can’t help but smile at the sweetness and wisdom of her wish.
Happiness and health are at the heart of nearly all human needs. Wouldn’t it be great to pocket a little extra of each this holiday season?
What if I told you that, compared to contacts, LASIK leads to increased happiness and health? What if I also told you it’s LESS EXPENSIVE than contacts or glasses? Call it a holiday miracle, but it’s true! And there are studies to prove it, which I’ll review here.
LASIK Can Make You Happier
In one of the landmark LASIK studies of the last decade, Price et al. 1 evaluated satisfaction with the current form of vision correction in 1800 patients at 1-, 2-, and 3-year follow-ups. We’ll use satisfaction as a stand-in for happiness here. The study’s key findings are below:
- “694 (39%) comprised the control group who continued contact lens wear, 819 (45%) wore contacts at baseline and had LASIK, and 287 (16%) wore glasses at baseline and had LASIK.”
- “88% of former contact lens wearers and 77% of former glasses wearers were strongly satisfied with LASIK at year 3,” compared to only 54% of those still wearing contacts.
- “Compared with contact lens wear, current LASIK technology improved ease of night driving, did not significantly increase dry eye symptoms, and resulted in higher levels of satisfaction at 1-, 2-, and 3-years follow-up.”
Wow! For former contact lens wearers, 88% were satisfied with their vision three years after LASIK, compared to only 54% who did not get LASIK and remained in contacts. Moreover, night driving was improved with LASIK, and dry eye symptoms were equivocal.
But wait – there’s more! Solomon et al. 2 performed a meta-analysis of 309 articles evaluating quality of life and satisfaction after LASIK. They found that, on average, 95.4% of patients were satisfied with their vision after LASIK. Multiply that by the more than 30 million LASIK procedures performed worldwide, and you get what my daughter would describe as “a lot, a lot, a lot” of happy patients. The Rolling Stones were wrong; you can get satisfaction.
LASIK is Safer than Contacts
“OK,” you say. “I can see how ditching contacts could make me happier. But isn’t LASIK risky? What if I go blind?”
These are great questions that everyone considering LASIK should ask. Luckily, LASIK is the MOST STUDIED SURGICAL PROCEDURE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD2, so there is ample data to support its safety.
- The risk of microbial keratitis (corneal infection) is higher in contact lens wear than after LASIK3.
- The risk of irrecoverable vision loss after LASIK in the hands of an experienced surgeon is less than 0.01%4.
“If these figures are real,” you might add, “wouldn’t ophthalmologists – the ones who study these papers – be much more likely to undergo LASIK themselves and perform it on their loved ones?”
The answer is YES! In a prospective, randomized questionnaire study in 2015, Kezirian et al. 5 found that 62.6% of refractive surgeons who qualified for laser vision correction had it performed on themselves, and over 90% of refractive surgeons recommended laser vision correction for an adult member of their family.
If 62.6% of qualifying American adults between 18 and 65 underwent LASIK, that would account for roughly 100 million surgeries in the United States alone! Unfortunately, most Americans don’t have easy access to this information unless they follow @corsinilasereye or read up on ophthalmology journals in their spare time. Roughly 800,000 LASIK procedures are performed each year in the U.S. Although this is a significant amount, many more qualified candidates still haven’t been able to ditch their contacts and glasses.
LASIK is Cheaper than Contacts
“Yeah, but ophthalmologists and their families probably have more money than the average American, so they can afford LASIK.”
True, most ophthalmologists earn a comfortable living after they pay off their college and medical school loans. But whether you are an ophthalmologist, an artist, a teacher, a plumber, or anything in between, LASIK is significantly cheaper than the aggregate cost of contacts and glasses over the years. On average, patients spend between $500 and $1000 annually on non-LASIK eye care, including glasses, contacts, contact solution, and doctors’ visits related to contacts and glasses. Therefore, most LASIK patients start seeing savings between five and eight years after surgery. If you have surgery when you are 25, you can save TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS by age 65. Try our LASIK Savings Calculator to calculate your own savings.
Happiness and health: I hope to give my daughter a heavy heaping of each this holiday season and every moment after. And if she wears contacts or glasses after high school, I’ll gift her the miracle of laser eye surgery, just like my wife and I chose for ourselves.
Here’s to a happy, healthy, and wealthy holiday season for you and your loved ones.
Jonathan Corsini, MD
- Price MO, Price DA, Bucci FA Jr, Durrie DS, Bond WI, Price FW Jr. Three-Year Longitudinal Survey Comparing Visual Satisfaction with LASIK and Contact Lenses. Ophthalmology. 2016 Aug;123(8):1659-1666. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2016.04.003. Epub 2016 May 18. PMID: 27208981.
- Solomon KD, Fernández de Castro LE, Sandoval HP, Biber JM, Groat B, Neff KD, Ying MS, French JW, Donnenfeld ED, Lindstrom RL; Joint LASIK Study Task Force. LASIK world literature review: quality of life and patient satisfaction. Ophthalmology. 2009 Apr;116(4):691-701. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2008.12.037. PMID: 19344821.
- Masters J, Kocak M, Waite A. Risk for microbial keratitis: Comparative metaanalysis of contact lens wearers and post-laser in situ keratomileusis patients. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2017 Jan;43(1):67-73. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrs.2016.10.022. PMID: 28317680.
- Kezirian GM, Parkhurst GD, Brinton JP, Norden RA. Prevalence of laser vision correction in ophthalmologists who perform refractive surgery. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2015 Sep;41(9):1826-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrs.2015.10.027. PMID: 26603390.