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The American Academy of Ophthalmology has compiled statistics regarding LASIK surgery and refractive error rates in the United States in its 2009 report, Eye Health Statistics at a Glance. According to the report, more than 700,000 LASIK procedures are performed each year; this number was obtained from the American Society for Cataract and Refractive Surgery's eye surgery education council. Although laser surgery provides patients with a permanent method of improving their vision, millions of patients that are good candidates for LASIK choose to instead rely on eyeglasses and contact lenses to see clearly.

If you suffer from poor vision and are seeking a solution, refractive surgery, including LASIK surgery, is a safe and effective method that provides permanent correction for a range of refractive errors. To learn if LASIK is right for you, we encourage you to review the statistics below and to contact a local surgeon through our DocShop network.

Number of U.S. Patients Affected by Refractive Errors

  • Myopia (nearsightedness): According to the American Optometric Association, nearly 30 percent of Americans aged 20 and up cannot see objects at a distance clearly
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness): According to the AAO's 2009 report, more than 12 million Americans age 40 and over suffer from hyperopia
  • Astigmatism: The AAO report states that one in three people have astigmatism
  • Presbyopia (age-related farsightedness): All adults eventually develop presbyopia, usually between the ages of 45 and 50, as the ciliary muscle weakens

Refractive Errors - Treatment Statistics

  • Eyeglasses are by far the most common treatment for refractive errors, with 150 million Americans depending on glasses to see clearly
  • Contact lenses are the second most common treatment for myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism, with 38 million Americans wearing contact lenses regularly
  • Eye surgery procedures such as LASIK are not nearly as popular as eyeglasses and contact lenses, with just 700,000 procedures performed annually

(Source: AAO 2009 Eye Health Statistics at a Glance report)

LASIK Complication Rates

Patients who are considering LASIK eye surgery to correct their vision should research the procedure and local surgeons with great care. Nearly one million patients undergo the LASIK procedure in the United States each year, and the majority of those patients achieve excellent visual results following surgery. However, a small percentage of patients will develop LASIK complications or side effects after undergoing laser vision correction surgery.

LASIK Side Effects

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that LASIK eye surgery complications occur in up to 5 percent of cases. According to the FDA, some common side effects include:

  •  Glare and sensitivity to light affect 1.7 percent of LASIK patients
  • Visual fluctuations occur in 2.6 percent of LASIK patients
  •  Halos around light sources are experienced by 3.5 percent of patients
  •  About 3 percent of patients report vision worse than before undergoing LASIK

LASIK Complication Rates Vary by Surgeon

Talk to your local surgeon about his or her personal rates of complication and success for LASIK surgery to find out if he or she is the right doctor for you. Laser eye surgery complications and results will vary among surgeons, so it is important to discuss your surgeon's experience in the field.

LASIK Success Rates

The benefits of LASIK surgery speak for themselves. The American Association of Professional Eyecare Specialists (AAPECS) concluded in a recent study of LASIK surgery statistics that 55.3 percent of LASIK patients achieve visual acuity of 20/20 or better, while 92.6 percent of patients achieve vision of 20/40 or better. However, other sources contend that the national average of patients who achieve 20/20 vision or better after LASIK is closer to 85 percent.

National Patient Success Rates Vary by Source

There is no national database for LASIK surgery statistics and success rates. The FDA measures LASIK results in relation to the specific laser that is used to complete the procedure, but does not compile results to reach an estimated national average of visual improvement. When researching LASIK surgery success rates, patients may notice that some sources report success rates for patients achieving 20/20 vision, while others report success rates for patients achieving vision of 20/40 or better. This is because the minimum visual acuity required for drivers in most of the United States is 20/40. Since vision often improves in the months following LASIK laser eye surgery, many studies measure vision improvement not only immediately following surgery, but several days after the procedure, and then at one, three, six, and twelve months after surgery. Understanding the cause of these discrepancies in statistical data may help answer questions that arise in your own research.

LASIK Success Rates Depend on Surgeon

Although nationally collected LASIK surgery statistics can give patients a good idea of the results they can expect after LASIK surgery, it is important that patients question surgeons about their individual complication and success rates. Having an understanding of LASIK statistics can help you determine who is best qualified to treat you or a loved one.

Contact a LASIK Surgeon

If you are considering undergoing LASIK eye surgery so you can benefit from permanent vision correction, contact a refractive surgeon in your area. A LASIK surgeon can determine if you are a good candidate for treatment, and advise you of the risks and costs associated with treatment.

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