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Sticky Weather Can Cloud LASIK Results

Humidity, temperature can alter outcome of laser surgery

FRIDAY, April 23, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- LASIK surgery results can be hurt by warm temperatures and high humidity, increasing the number of people who require follow-up procedures, says a Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center study.

This study, the first to show that environmental factors can affect LASIK outcomes, found that a 10 percent increase in treatment room humidity meant an additional nine out of every 100 LASIK patients later needed an enhancement procedure.

Outdoor temperatures and humidity in the weeks before a person had LASIK also influenced surgery results, the study found.

The number of eyes requiring enhancement procedure was 0 percent in the winter and 50 percent in September, when outdoor humidity was highest. In less humid months, there was a tendency to overcorrect vision. During humid months, there was a tendency to undercorrect vision.

The study, which included LASIK surgery on 368 eyes of 191 patients, evaluated 12 variables suspected to affect LASIK results. These factors included age, sex, curvature of the cornea, and environmental factors such as room and outdoor temperature and humidity.

An analysis of these variables revealed that indoor humidity had the most impact on whether a person required an enhancement procedure. The findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

"Environmental data should play a role in how the [LASIK] equipment is programmed to further refine the visual outcome," study author Dr. Keith Walter, an assistant professor of ophthalmology, said in a prepared statement.

"Our study doesn't mean that consumers should avoid LASIK surgery during the summer. But they should make sure that their physicians compensate for temperature and humidity," Walter said.

More information

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has more about LASIK.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, April 20, 2004
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