Vision Quest

Lasik Pros and Cons

Apr 24, 2007
Outside Magazine
Owner's Manual: Your Eyes

   Photo: McKibillo

Laser eye surgery is the new performance-enhancing drug among pro athletes. The appeal: It's legal—and the results are beyond dramatic. Tiger Woods, once considered legally blind without his contacts, underwent laser eye surgery in 1999 and walked out with 20/15 vision. (Translation: He can now read from 20 feet away something that a 20/20 person can't read from more than 15 feet away.) Oh, and he went on to win six straight titles. Pitcher Greg Maddux had surgery and went nine-and-one in his next 11 games. We're guessing you're interested now. First, consider these factors:

HOW BAD IS YOUR EYESIGHT? LASIK has proven most effective for people with minor to moderate nearsightedness and astigmatism. Opt out if you're under 20 (since your eyes are still developing) or have an eye-related medical condition like diabetes.

POST-SURGERY: LASIK is popular because it's fast, painless, and offers a quick recovery time (24 hours to return to work, four weeks to return to sports, and four months to climb Kilimanjaro).

CAVEATS: Complications range from dry eyes and light sensitivity to detached retinas and debilitating infections. Overall, the incidence of serious complications is low, less than 1 percent. Some doctors argue the risk from wearing contacts long-term is worse.

COST: Ignore the LASIK coupons for $500 per eye. This is not a haircut. A typical procedure at a reputable laser eye center will run you about $1,900 per eye.

Filed To: Eyes

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