August 26, 2015
3 min read

Significant advantages abound for young patients who have laser vision correction

Gregory D. Parkhurst, MD, explains what made him decide to have refractive surgery.

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Greg Parkhurst has hit for the cycle! Wow!

Greg has touched on the four most significant advantages of having laser vision correction — quality of life, better vision, cost savings and safety — while also discussing that a full 90% of the population has reached ocular maturity by age 18 years and is ready for refractive surgery.

He also mentions the very high prevalence of laser vision correction in the four branches of the armed services and previews our article in an upcoming issue of Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery about refractive surgery in refractive surgeons, in which we show ... well, you will have to wait for that one.

Great job, Greg.

Richard A. Norden, MD
OSN Refractive Surgery Stories Editor

Gregory D. Parlhurst, MD
Gregory D. Parkhurst

Were you that junior high kid who dove head first off the back of the boat, finally your turn to water ski at the cool kid’s birthday party, only to realize you forgot to take your glasses off first? Nope, that was me. After thrashing around in the waves, grasping at my quickly disappearing pair of –4.75 specs as they spiraled toward the bottom of the lake, that fine summer day still takes the prize as one of my most humiliating and frustrating experiences. That was not the only experience I remember hating about my glasses, though. There was the fact that I had to get rubber-covered springs that wrapped around my ears to play sports. Plus, every soccer player knows that the best weather to play in is the rain. There are few things in life as much fun as slide tackling in the mud, unless you have to wear rec specs in order to see.

You better believe I went into contacts as soon as I could, but what about getting poked in the eye when it was time to box out for that all-important fourth-quarter rebound? At this point, I might as well admit I was also the kid who picked up his RGP off the basketball court, not many places to clean it off at that moment, so right back into my eye it went. It is no wonder adolescents and college students come in so frequently with corneal ulcers and infections due to poor contact lens habits.

These are a few of the reasons that 12 years ago, I decided to have refractive surgery. My vision was 20/15 within a week, and 12 years later it is still exactly the same. It is often easy to forget by now what a life with myopia was like before laser vision correction. Since that time, my own son is now in junior high, and I have had the privilege of performing the procedure on several thousand patients. Many of those were military personnel like I was, where in some environments, glasses and contacts simply are not an option.

Soldiers and fighter pilots have it figured out. They know that the best age for refractive surgery is the earliest possible point of ocular maturity. Why spend even 1 more day than you have to putting up with the daily potential risks of contact lenses? Excimer lasers are safe and FDA approved for refractive surgery at age 18 years, at which time more than 90% of people have already achieved ocular maturity. My only regret is that I had not figured out by that time that the monthly cost of refractive surgery is nearly the same as the monthly outlay for disposable contact lenses, solutions and back-up glasses. The only difference is that those nearly identical monthly costs come to an end a few years after the procedure, so the overall cost savings, not to mention the obvious huge improvement in quality of life, is compelling.

For any ophthalmologists who still think that “LASIK is the one procedure eye surgeons won’t have on their own eyes,” I can say from personal experience that this is definitely not true. I am very excited to report the results of our peer-review article to be published in the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery this fall, reporting the true scientific incidence of refractive surgery in refractive surgeons’ own eyes. Sneak peek: It is significantly higher than you probably think. Thank you for reading, and stay tuned.

Disclosure: Parkhurst reports no relevant financial disclosures.