Quality of Life Improved Through Laser Eye Surgery

Quality of Life Improved Through Laser Eye Surgery

Press Release: American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, Oct 16, 2003

First Quality of Life Survey Among Laser Eye Surgery Patients Demonstrates High Satisfaction, Improved Daily Routine and Overall Quality of Life

Fairfax, VA- The vast majority of Americans who had their vision corrected by laser surgery are highly satisfied with the results and said that the overall quality of their lives and daily routines has improved, according to the results of a Harris Interactive survey released by The Eye Surgery Education Council (ESEC), the public education arm of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS).

The survey is the first nationwide quality of life survey assessing life implications for laser eye surgery patients. The survey asked patients to evaluate the impact of their eye surgery on the quality of their family life, careers, and sports. These survey findings, along with the ESEC"s newly updated LASIK screening guidelines, can help interested patients make educated choices by weighing the benefits and risks of laser eye surgery.

Of the approximately 3 million Americans who underwent laser eye surgery since 1995, more than 85 percent said the surgery improved their overall quality of life and 93 percent of patients said they were satisfied with the results. Among the benefits of the procedure, respondents cited improvement in several specific aspects of vision, daily living and everyday activities, including:

  • Ability to see upon waking (seeing an alarm clock) (89%)
  • Freedom from glasses and contacts (83%)
  • Improvement in personal safety (69%)
  • Increased confidence in personal appearance (65%)
  • Better participation in sports or fitness activities (54%)

Specific to the surgery, 87 percent felt that the results met or exceeded their expectations and 73 percent of patients regretted that they did not have the surgery sooner. In addition to the high satisfaction rate, nearly half (47 percent) of the respondents said they began "a whole new life" after laser eye surgery.

An important aspect of the survey also focused on consumer education. Understanding risks and benefits of laser eye surgery prior to undergoing treatment is critical for patient satisfaction and an important factor in determining if a patient is an appropriate candidate. The survey findings showed that 86 percent felt they were well informed about the risks of laser eye surgery before treatment and more than half (54 percent) of respondents reported that they considered laser eye surgery for a year or more before they actually had the procedure. Significantly, those patients who reported that their expectations were not met or that they were not satisfied were also among those people who were less informed about the surgery itself or risks and benefits of the surgery.

"This kind of research is very helpful to physicians as we counsel future patients and understand the quality of life benefits for LASIK patients," said Dr. Roger Steinert, chair of the Eye Surgery Education Council Medical Advisory Board and associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. "The majority of the patients reported they were well informed about the procedure, which supports the importance of patient education and discussion of realistic expectations prior to having the surgery."

Custom Technology Redefines LASIK

Today a new procedure, Custom LASIK, is improving patient's quality of vision at greater levels than was possible before. With recently Food and Drug Administration approved wavefront technology, physicians are now able to personalize the LASIK procedure to the unique characteristics of each patient"s eye, making the procedure more precise and, for some patients, providing better crispness and clarity of vision than contacts and glasses have in the past.

"Custom LASIK, which uses wavefront technology to individualize the LASIK treatment for the characteristics of each eye, makes the quality of life contributions of LASIK even more meaningful," said Dr. Douglas Koch, the Allen, Mosbacher, and Law Chair Professor of Ophthalmology at the Baylor College of Medicine, and Eye Surgery Education Council Member. "Custom LASIK advances and redefines the LASIK technology and can result in even higher quality of vision than conventional LASIK, which has proved to be a reliable and effective way for many people to improve their vision and their lives," he added.

Survey Methodology

The survey comprised the first nationwide sample on quality of life among laser eye surgery patients. In addition to multiple-choice questions, several open-ended questions were included to capture in-depth responses. Harris Interactive conducted the online survey among 254 laser eye surgery patients who had LASIK (Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis), LASEK (Laser Sub-Epithelial Keratomileusis), or PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) to correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and/or astigmatism (blurriness). The survey was conducted February 26 to March 10, 2003. The survey"s margin of error is 6.1 percent.

About the ESEC

The Eye Surgery Education Council (ESEC) is an initiative established by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), a professional society of ophthalmologists dedicated to raising the standards and skills of surgeons, who operate on the front portion of the eye, through clinical education, and to work with patients, government, and the medical community to promote delivery of quality eye care. The ESEC, which is committed to helping patients make informed decisions about undergoing laser eye surgery, has two missions, to provide patients with accurate, accessible information, and to promote active physician/patient discussion about the benefits and risks of laser eye surgery procedures.

The materials available from ESEC are educational in nature and are not intended to serve as a substitute for medical advice.

The ESEC is the public education arm of the ASCRS Foundation, which also supports ophthalmic research and charitable eye care projects in the developing world. The Foundation is funded by contributions from ophthalmologists and organizations in the eye care industry. ASCRS has maintained sole control over all program content.