Can LASIK deliver better-than-perfect (20/20) eyesight?

This question was recently posed on the Quora forum (http://www.quora.com/LASIK/Can-LASIK-deliver-better-than-perfect-20-20-eyesight), and I thought I would share my answer here. By the way, if you are not familiar with Quora, it is a great site. Anyone can post questions on virtually any topic imaginable, and then experts answer the questions and generate discussions. Check it out!

Here is my answer to the question “Can LASIK deliver better-than-perfect (20/20) eyesight?”:

A few years ago there was a lot of discussion amongst refractive surgeons about “super vision” which was supposed to correct people even better than 20/20. Much of this talk has subsided, however, as we have learned how complicated the factors that lead to visual quality can be. There are many factors that enter in to a given individual’s ability to see.

Certainly the refractive error, such as nearsightedness or astigmatism, is a major contributor. However, there are other parts of the visual system, including the retina and brain, that ultimately affect the visual quality. So if we are able to completely correct the refractive error in a given eye with LASIK, then the visual potential of that eye is now dependent upon the rest of the visual system. For the average human retina and brain, this potential is around 20/12, but many eyes are not able to see that precisely, and some are able to see even better.   –Lance Kugler, MD

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