What can the new PROWL studies tell us about LASIK? – LASIK Carlsbad, CA
Although LASIK has been around for decades, researchers are always interested in learning more about patients’ experience with the procedure. Recently, the results of two major studies were published, revealing information about how LASIK affects people’s vision and eye health.
The studies are PROWL-1 and PROWL-2, collectively known as PROWL. They were jointly conducted by a group of government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Eye Institute (NEI), and Department of Defense (DoD). It’s important to note that these are objective organizations with no financial stake in LASIK, so the data can be trusted.
What is PROWL?
PROWL stands for Patient Reported Outcomes With LASIK. Each PROWL study consisted of a detailed questionnaire filled out by patients regarding their vision, symptoms such as dry eye and glare, and their functioning in daily life. The questionnaire was filled out before having LASIK, and then several times after having the procedure. This is important, because when people are asked after having LASIK to report what their vision was like before, it’s very hard for them to remember accurately. By asking ahead of time, the researchers got more accurate data to compare to the data after the treatment.
PROWL-1 was conducted among 262 active duty military service members. After the results of this study, the agencies decided to do a second study among civilians. This was PROWL-2, which studied 312 patients at five different LASIK centers around the country.
What were PROWL’s findings?
One of the most striking findings of PROWL was the extremely high satisfaction rates with this procedure. 99% of participants in PROWL-1, and 96% of those in PROWL-2, were satisfied with the outcome of their LASIK procedures. Very few, if any, other surgical procedures have satisfaction rates this high.
Of note was the presence of side effects after LASIK. Doctors have long been aware that some people have visual symptoms after LASIK, including glare, halos, and starbursts around lights. Some also experience dry eyes, which can range from mild to severe. However, PROWL revealed that these symptoms were actually less common after the surgery than they were before, with glasses or contacts.
Does that mean that LASIK doesn’t cause side effects?
No, this is too broad of a generalization and is, to some degree, inaccurate. It’s important to consider the data in detail. There was a small subset of patients who didn’t have any dry eye or visual symptoms before LASIK and developed these things after the procedure. However, there were also patients who had these types of symptoms with their glasses or contacts, and then were free of these symptoms after having LASIK. This is why the symptoms were less common after surgery than before.
In addition, those with symptoms after LASIK tended to improve over time, whether the symptoms were new or were already present before having LASIK. The longer the waiting period after surgery, the lower the incidence of these side effects in the PROWL data.
If patients have bothersome visual symptoms after LASIK, even when an adequate healing period has occurred, then they may be candidates for having a second procedure to help with the problem. PROWL didn’t study this, so the effectiveness of repeat LASIK can’t be assessed with the PROWL data.
Have an evaluation for LASIK Carlsbad CA
To many prospective LASIK patients, these findings will be encouraging. The extremely high satisfaction rates speak for themselves. If you’re in or around Carlsbad, CA, and you’re interested in having LASIK, the most important next step is to be evaluated by a qualified LASIK provider to see whether or not you’re a good candidate, and to get an idea of what you could expect in your individual case. Contact us to schedule your appointment at North County Laser Eye Associates, with Dr. Paul H. Chen. It’s time to see an experienced LASIK professional about your vision.