How safe are vision correction treatments?

26 August 2020

Irene Siso-Fuertes PhD, research associate at Optegra Eye Sciences explains the latest on safety of vision correction treatments:

When contemplating vision correction surgery of any form, the safety of the procedure is a natural and important factor to consider.

Over the years, the safety and efficacy of vision correction treatments has improved thanks to the work of clinicians and researchers who have spent decades investigating procedures and outcomes.

While there is no medical surgical intervention whatsoever that is 100% risk free, within the field of refractive surgery – procedures to treat refractive errors such as long sight, short sight, astigmatism and the need for reading glasses later in life (presbyopia) – research has been very rapidly evolving with more than 50 thousand scientific articles published. This extensive volume of scientific evidence has brought to light the safety of vision correction surgery.

A study that reviewed results from 48 randomised clinical trials concluded that all the included laser eye surgeries have excellent efficacy, predictability and safety.

How is safety measured?

The safety of a refractive procedure such as laser eye surgery or refractive lens exchange is technically evaluated by assessing the difference in lines read on the vision chart with correction before and after the surgery.

A refractive procedure would be deemed unsafe if a high percentage of treated eyes are able to read two or more lines less from the letter chart with glasses after they have undergone surgery compared to before the procedure.

A review that collated data from 143 published studies – including a total of 67,893 eyes that underwent laser refractive surgery – showed that the loss of 2 or more lines only occurred in 1% or less of treated eyes. This figure was significantly lower than the standard set by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) which had set the nominal indicator of safety at 5%.2

This same review2 showed that up to 99·5% of patients who had laser refractive surgery met driving standards after surgery and almost 98·8% were satisfied with their outcome.

Within Optegra’s seven hospitals results are regularly audited and benchmarked to these published results, and usually match or exceed them.

 Infection risk?

The risk of infection after laser eye surgery is so rare it has been shown that it might be lower than that associated with extended contact lens wear.

Safety of Refractive Lens Exchange

Refractive lens exchange – where the natural lens of the eye is replaced with a highly sophisticated and tailored artificial lens – has a faster visual recovery, more stable visual outcomes, and can treat a wider range of refractive corrections.  It could be associated with a slightly higher incidence of risks (0.2 – 4.5%) compared to laser eye surgery (0.1-0.98%).4 This is essentially due to the more invasive nature of the surgery. However, the advances in preoperative assessment and surgical technology have led to improved outcomes and improved risk-benefit ratio.  As a result the popularity of this treatment has grown.

Your safety

In general a combination of the increased understanding through scientific literature plus improved imaging systems and diagnostic equipment used during initial screening have led to a better patient selection.

This ensures that only the most suitable individuals are offered treatment and has led to reduced surgical complications, and optimal visual outcomes.

At Optegra we believe in the importance of shared decision making so both surgeons and patients can make informed decisions about treatments.

All these factors lead to an overall improvement in safety and efficacy for patients undergoing vision correction procedures.

To discuss your personal visual needs and potential treatment options, click here to book your free initial consultation and speak to one of our eye specialists who will assist you to make your informed choice.

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