Laser surgery has become a common way to fix vision problems. Many are using this new surgical technique to get rid of glasses and contact lenses.
Most problems fixed by laser eye surgery involve the way the eye focuses images on the retina.
During laser eye surgery, a surgeon uses a laser device to make changes to the shape of the cornea. The laser produces a beam of ultraviolet light to vaporize tissue.
Surgically changing the shape of the cornea can correct refractive errors in the eyesight of most people.
Now the FDA has just approved the first laser surgery designed to treat both eyes differently. One eye can be treated to see far away, while the other can be treated for close-up vision.
The new procedure is called “CustomVue Monovision LASIK.” It is meant to help those who have trouble focusing on objects close-up. That means that anyone who is nearsighted and has normal age-related loss of ability to focus on near objects may be able to correct the problem.
The idea is that all nearsightedness in the patient’s dominant eye will be corrected. But only part of the nearsightedness in the non-dominant eye will be corrected. This allows the patient to use the fully corrected eye for distance vision. The undercorrected eye can still be used for seeing close up.
If this all sounds a little confusing, doctors are quick to reassure that after a period of time, the brain adjusts to the difference between the two eyes.
Doctors also advise that people considering the new laser procedure should first wear monovision contact lenses for at least a week. That way, they will be able to find out if they can tolerate having one eye undercorrected.
Medical experts caution that after monovision surgery, the two eyes may not work together as well as they did before in some patients. This can be a problem in dim light or when doing tasks that need very sharp vision. Patients may still need to wear glasses or contact lenses for activities, like night driving or reading small type.
CustomVue Monovision LASIK is not completely risk- free. Side effects may include glare from bright lights, rings around lights (halos), light sensitivity, night-driving glare, ghost images, and double vision.
The FDA based its approval on the review of a clinical study handed in by the company.
The FDA has asked that the company also conduct a study following 500 patients for six months after surgery. This is intended to report on the quality of vision postsurgery, and also to note any quality-of-life issues associated with the permanent procedure.
If you are considering laser surgery, talk to your healthcare provider and get some support when weighing benefits against potential risks.