For many people, the benefits of eye laser surgery or LASIK seem obvious-fewer visits to the optometrist, no more expensive prescriptions, no more wrestling with smudged lenses, and no more wasted hours looking for lost glasses or contact lenses.

Since the surgery was introduced in 1995, over three million Americans have taken advantage of it. According to the Eye Surgery Education Council, 85 percent of people who had the surgery said it improved their quality of life, and 93 percent said they were happy with the results. Some of the benefits include greater participation in sports and leisure activities, and the ability to see on waking up.

But for another minority—about two percent—the surgery can have serious side effects. These include sensitivity to light, blurred or double vision, and poor night vision. Newer laser techniques called Zyoptix® XP microkeratome and Allegretto Wave® Eye-Q are solving some of these problems.

Zyoptix XP microkeratome

Zyoptix is manufactured by the Bausch & Lomb. In a study conducted by the company and approved by the FDA, Zyoptix provided excellent quality of vision in all lighting conditions. It achieved outstanding visual acuity with 91.3 percent of patients reaching 20/20 (6/6) vision.

Patients were also less likely to have problems with night driving, haloes and glare when compared to Bausch & Lomb standard LASIK results. Ninety-eight percent of patients were very satisfied with the treatment and would have it done again.

Another study conducted at the internationally-renowned Eye Institute at Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore compared Zyoptix XP microkeratome to Intralase Femtosecond (FS). Zyoptix was statistically significantly more accurate on intended flap thickness, produced thinner corneal flaps, and demonstrated equivalent results in high- and low-light conditions. Zyoptix also resulted in seven times less surgery time than Intralase.

Allegretto Wave Eye-Q

The Allegretto Wave Eye-Q system from Alcon takes laser technology one step further with the fastest excimer laser system in the US. According to the company, this system can correct your vision in eight seconds or less. It gives superior results and has a lower risk of side effects.

A key benefit of this laser system is its ability to customize eye surgery to each patient's individual prescription and cornea. It takes into account the unique curvature and biomechanics of the eye in order to preserve vision quality and resolve problems such as glare and poor night vision.

In treatment statistics put out by the company, one year after treatment more than 93 percent of patients said they saw at least as well as or better than they had with glasses or contacts before treatment. More than 98 percent achieved 20/40 vision, which is required to pass most driving tests. And nearly 60 percent of nearsighted patients achieved 20/16 vision one year after the treatment.

• Learn more about Zyoptix or Allegretto Wave Eye-Q.

 • To find a laser surgery doctor near you visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology website. In the right hand column look for their "Find an Eye MD" tool. Enter your city and state, the specialty (refractive surgery), and submit your search.