Millions of people have taken advantage of the great technologies available in today’s world (Lasik, PRK, implant surgery, etc.) and have had their vision corrected surgically so that they are no longer totally dependent on glasses or contact lenses to see clearly.
Most of these surgical procedures are very safe options and yield great outcomes that allow patients to enjoy many years of naturally clear vision.
However, after 20 years of seeing many of these post-surgical patients, I’ve noticed a mistake that seems to be common among them. Many of them forget about continuing to have their eyes examined frequently.
It’s human nature for a lot of people to equate getting their eyes examined with updating their glasses or contact lens prescription. However, the most important thing that is evaluated during an eye examination is the health of the eyes.
This is still very important even after having surgical correction.
A great example of this is the fact that many people who have surgical correction are people who are significantly nearsighted. Patients who are significantly nearsighted are at a higher risk to develop retinal tears and-or detachments.
Many of these patients have eyes that are longer in length, which puts more stress on the retina. Having surgical vision correction by re-shaping the cornea (the front of the eye) does not change this. These people are still higher risk, even after corrective surgery.
Yearly dilated examinations can detect any early changes that may be happening to the retina, and these can easily be repaired before any larger issues occur.
Other potentially sight-threatening conditions that can be detected through regular eye examinations are glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, and vascular problems in the eye. Again, having surgical vision correction has no effect on lowering the risk of any of these conditions.
Catching these conditions at an early stage can go a long way towards beginning treatment early enough to avoid further damage from happening. We often will see patients who haven’t had an examination in several years and have significant damage, of which they were unaware. Unfortunately, any nerve damage cannot be recovered, and all that can be done at that point is to try to preserve the vision that is remaining.
If you’ve had surgical correction to improve your vision, you are no doubt enjoying the benefits of clearer natural vision. You’ve also no doubt spent thousands of dollars to have that surgery.
Make sure that you continue to protect the investment that you put into your vision by doing everything that you can to maintain it. Be diligent about having a full evaluation of the health of your eyes on a yearly basis.
Douglas Black, O.D., is a doctor of optometry at the Darling Eye Center in Bluffton and Hilton Head Island.