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Refractive Surgery: Is It Right for You?

Successful refractive surgery may give you freedom from glasses or corrective lenses. But before choosing refractive surgery, talk with your eye doctor and get all the facts. Find out what refractive surgery can and can't do. Knowing the risks will help you make an informed decision.

The Choice Is Yours

Refractive surgery has risks and limitations:

  • Even after surgery, you may need to wear glasses or contacts for some activities. For example, if you're over 40 you may need reading glasses, even if you don't use them now.

  • After surgery, you'll have a recovery period of weeks or months. During this time, activities such as driving and certain sports may be restricted.

  • If your first refractive surgery doesn't produce the desired result, you may need to have a second procedure (enhancement).

  • Any surgery involves risk. Be sure that you understand the possible risks and complications of refractive surgery before making a decision.

What You Should Consider

Know the pros and cons of each type of refractive surgery. Discuss your medical history with your eye doctor. Refractive surgery may not be for you if you:

  • Do not have stable vision.

  • Have a vision problem that is too severe.

  • Have a condition that slows healing or increases your risk of infection.

  • Have an eye disease, such as advanced glaucoma or cataracts.

  • Are taking certain medications.

  • Are pregnant or nursing, or are planning to become pregnant in the near future.

If You're Over 40

With age, the eyes lens becomes stiff and can't easily accommodate (change shape to focus light). This can lead to presbyopia (difficulty focusing on nearby objects). Refractive surgery can't treat presbyopia, so if you're over 40 you may need reading glasses even after surgery. Another option for coping with presbyopia is monovision. To create monovision, refractive surgery is used to adjust one eye for near vision and the other for distance vision. This option is not for everyone, so discuss it with your eye doctor. A trial period of monovision using contact lenses may help you decide if it's right for you.

Date Last Reviewed:

Date Last Modified: 2003-06-23T13:15:24-06:00

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We see patients from the downtown Seattle, Belltown and South Lake Union areas of Seattle in King County, WA.

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Dr. Feiten was born and raised in Wisconsin, attending the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh for her undergraduate studies. She graduated from Pacific University with her Doctor of Optometry degree in 1987. She practiced in Kentucky for seven years, receiving the Young OD of the Year Award in 1994.

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