Laser Surgery Can Correct Nearsightedness

FRIDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Laser surgery effectively and safely corrects severe myopia for at least a decade, new research suggests.

People with myopia, which is caused by excessive curving of the eye's lens or cornea, are commonly referred to as nearsighted. According to the American Optometric Association, almost one in three Americans suffers from some degree of nearsightedness.

Laser surgery has been used to correct myopia since the early 1990s, although the long-term effects of the surgeries have not been documented. Writing in the January issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers from the Miguel Hernandez University in Alicante, Spain, and the Ankara University School of Medicine in Turkey described the results of a 10-year study of 196 myopic eyes that received LASIK surgery.

The researchers gathered data from 118 patients, who originally needed 10 diopter corrections to achieve 20/20 vision. A diopter is a measure of the curve of a lens, and a 10-diopter correction indicates severe nearsightedness.

The patients were evaluated 10 years after their surgeries. After treatment, most patients showed at least some vision improvement, with 40 percent avoiding the use of glasses completely. After a decade, 61 percent of eyes operated on were within two diopters. Only 1 percent of eyes developed corneal ectasia, a weakening of the cornea that is a possible side effect of LASIK surgery.

Almost one in three (27 percent) patients had to be retreated during the 10 years, the researchers said.

"This study has allowed us to demonstrate that, in spite of the prejudices about the limits of LASIK technique, the results regarding predictability, efficacy and safety for high myopic patients are very good in the long term," lead investigator Jorge L. Ali said in a prepared statement.

More information

To learn more about myopia, visit the American Optometric Association.

SOURCE: Elsevier Health Sciences, news release, Dec. 28, 2007

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