LASIK: FAQs

When considering LASIK surgery, it is important to be informed about the surgery, what to expect before and after and what risks may be involved.

A: LASIK has been approved by the FDA as a safe and effective eye surgery procedure. The LASIK procedure uses a computer controlled laser that the surgeon turns on and can turn off at any moment. The laser has many built in safeguards to reduce the risk of error. As with any surgical procedure, however, there are always risks. While the majority of LASIK patients achieve better vision without any serious complications, a small percentage of LASIK patients do experience some difficulties. According to studies, around 3% to 5% of LASIK patients experience minor difficulties such as dry eyes and nighttime glare, and less than 1% experience serious complications such as decreased vision. There are no reported cases of blindness from LASIK. On the other hand, millions of patients have had LASIK with excellent results. While not all risks can be eliminated, many negative LASIK results can be avoided with proper screening to ensure you are a good candidate for laser eye surgery. Also, custom (wavefront) LASIK can help increase the chance of better results in many patients. Overall, the safety and effectiveness of the LASIK procedure will be greatly impacted by proper pre-screening, the skill of the surgeon, and proper follow-up eye care.
A: A good LASIK candidate must have healthy eyes (no glaucoma, infections, cataracts, severe dry eye, or other condition that would impact healing), must be at least 18 for some procedures and at least 21 for others, and since vision must be stable for at least a year before surgery, often good candidates are often in their mid-twenties before their eyes stabilize. LASIK patients cannot have a degenerative or autoimmune disease since this affects healing, and women who are pregnant or nursing (and related hormonal changes of these conditions which affects the shape of the eye) will need to wait until their hormone levels are back to normal. If you want to seriously consider LASIK, however, your eyes will need to be thoroughly examined by the LASIK surgeon. After examining your eyes, the doctor will determine if you are a good candidate, explain the LASIK procedure and options, answer your questions, and explain what results you can reasonable expect based on your prescription and your eyes.
A: Anesthetic drops are put in your eye before LASIK which numbs the eye, so you won't feel pain during the procedure. Afterwards, there may be a day or so of mild discomfort, often an itchy feeling as if there were sand in the eye (but don't rub your eyes - you don't want to dislocate the flap). If necessary, the doctor can prescribe medication, although most standard over the counter pain relievers are adequate. Most doctors will also prescribe the use of artificial tears which helps the eye during the healing process as well as helps to soothe the itchy, dry eye feeling.
A: Two of the most common side effects are dry eye and seeing starbursts or halos around lights at nighttime, both which are usually temporary and disappear with time as the eyes heal. Dry eye can be soothed with the use of artificial tears which soothes the eye by keeping it moist. Less than 1% of LASIK patients have vision that worsens rather than improves.
A: Custom LASIK, also called Wavefront LASIK, allows for a more customized treatment based on 3- dimensional measurements of your eye. The wavefront technology uses light to make a map of your eye. While two people can have the same eye prescription, no two people have the same wavefront measurements. Wavefront LASIK usually results in fewer "higher order" aberrations, tiny imperfections which affect your overall quality of vision, such as visual glare and halos. While wavefront LASIK is the better choice for some patients, Conventional LASIK will be the better choice for others. Wavefront LASIK removes more corneal tissue than Conventional LASIK, and would not be a good choice for those with thin corneas, high degrees of aberration, or severely dry eyes.
A: Monovision is when the dominant eye is treated with LASIK to correct for distance, while the other eye is left alone for close up vision. Some patients are happy with this treatment, while others are unable to adjust. Many doctors will suggest wearing contacts in one eye to simulate monovision before LASIK. For those patients who decide against monovision, some opt to correct both eyes with LASIK for distance and wear reading glasses for close up vision. Others may decide they prefer the vision correction they have with contacts or glasses. For those who have monovision and are able to adjust, they enjoy the benefit of seeing long distance with one eye and close up with the other eye.
A: For most LASIK patients, the choice of lasers makes no significant difference. All approved lasers are considered safe and effective, and while there can be subtle differences between the lasers that can benefit some patients, overall vision correction is more often the result of the skill of the surgeon and quality of care before and after LASIK. For those who are interested in the specifications of each laser, the information is posted on the FDA website. When reading thru the data, there are several important things to keep in mind to keep the FDA data in perspective. 1. FDA data cannot be compared from one study to the other, as the testing criteria can vary between manufacturers. FDA trials don't compare lasers to each other. 2. Studies don't cover every possibility. A laser may be approved, but it may or may not be the right one for your condition. 3. Today's results are often better than the FDA data, as improvements are allowed to be made, as well as increased surgeon experience.
A: Refractive surgery is a procedure to lessen your dependence on corrective lenses for farsightedness and astigmatism.
A: PRK is a laser procedure used to correct a wide range of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. We use the cool beam of the excimer laser to reshape your cornea. PRK differs from RK, which uses radial incisions (cuts) to flatten the cornea.
A: LASIK surgery is a surgical procedure used to correct a wide range of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. A thin layer of the cornea is lifted to create a protective flap. The cool beam of the excimer laser re-shapes the cornea and the flap is then returned for a quick, natural recovery. Patients experience little discomfort and can return to work the next day. LASIK stands for “Laser in situ Keratomileusis”. It is a cool beam laser that reshapes the cornea without destroying the adjacent cell layers.
A: Yes! In 1995, the FDA approved the use of the excimer laser. LASIK’s popularity has grown and is now the procedure of choice worldwide.
A: In both procedures the cool beam of the excimer laser is used to re-shape the cornea. The approach to accessing the area of the cornea to be treated is very different, however. LASIK patients experience rapid visual recovery (with minimum discomfort) because a protective flap is created using tiny pulses of laser light. The flap is replaced after the procedure. With PRK the outer epithelial is lightly removed and a contact bandage is placed over the cornea. Mild discomfort may be experienced and the contact is removed within 5 to 7 days.
A: Astigmatism is when the front surface of your eye is not perfectly round; it can be described as being shaped like a football. Astigmatism can cause distortion of both near and far objects.
A: Nearsightedness or myopia is a refractive error that can be treated with LASIK. If you are nearsighted, distant objects are blurry while close objects are clear. This is also called myopia.
A: Farsightedness is a refractive error that can be treated with LASIK. The technical term for farsightedness is hyperopia. Hyperopia requires an individual to use their focusing ability to see objects far away and more focusing ability than customary for near objects. Severe Hyperopia can cause blurred images for both near and far objects.
A: LASIK is considered an elective procedure and is generally not covered by insurance. However, we encourage you to contact your insurance provider to inquire about coverage; you may also consider contacting your human resources manager if you have a flexible spending account. Many patients choose to use this account for elective procedures.
A: The actual procedure does not hurt; numbing drops are applied to the eyes. You may experience a slight pressure sensation during the procedure. After the procedure, some patients may experience some discomfort, such as mild irritation, scratchiness, dry eyes, watery eyes, redness or sensitivity to light. We recommend sleeping and keeping the eyes closed for the first 4 to 5 hours to help reduce any mild discomfort.
A: As with any surgical procedure, there are possible side effects. The most common to LASIK are sensitivity to light, night glare, dry eyes and mild irritation. Most of these are temporary and will subside within 2 to 3 days. Others may last up to six months.
A: There is no evidence suggesting any long-term risks associated with LASIK.
A: Yes, we use numbing drops, not needles, for the eyes. You will also be able to take a mild sedative which will help you relax. However, you will need to remain awake during the procedure.
A: You may return to work and resume your normal activities when you feel able. Most patients return to work within 24 hours of their procedure. You should restrict yourself from wearing eye make-up for the first 7 days, showering (baths only for the first 12 hours), water sports, such as swimming, for 1 week and dirt or dust prone environments for a period of two weeks, unless you wear protective eyewear.
A: For patients who are already experiencing difficulty with reading in their distance correction (normally patients nearing the mid-forties), LASIK can possibly treat one eye for near vision and the other for distance vision, thus decreasing the necessity for both near and distance glasses. We will consider this LASIK correction, if you wear monovision contact lenses.
A: Our surgeons have completed thousands of procedures.
A: If you are a contact wearer, you must remove soft lenses 2 weeks prior to that day and remove rigid, gas permeable lenses 12 weeks prior. You will be asked to wear no eye make-up or aerosol sprays such as perfume, cologne or aftershave, etc. You will be requested to bring a driver with you on the day of the procedure and for your one-day post-op procedure visit. There are no restrictions on eating or drinking (except for Alcoholic beverages, which are very drying to the eyes). We do encourage you to eat something. We recommend that you dress comfortably but in nothing that is fuzzy or will shed lint. You will be asked to read and sign an informed consent form prior to the procedure.
A: The only way to know whether or not you are a good candidate for a refractive procedure is to be examined by a qualified refractive specialist. Your prescription or a brief screening examination provides only an estimate of your suitability. Several conditions can disqualify you from the procedure. Only with a comprehensive eye examination can you be confident of your suitability for LASIK.
A: You would have to wait up to 6 months after your pregnancy before you could undergo LASIK surgery. If you decide to nurse your baby, you must also wait an additional 6 months after you have stopped nursing before you could have the procedure. Pregnancy and nursing greatly changes a woman’s body and affects her vision. Therefore, her eyes must be stable before having the procedure done. A thorough exam would be completed to determine if the eyes had become stable.
A: In LASIK, the front surface of the eye normally heals within 24 hours. If a bandage or soft contact lens was used, it can be removed within 24 hours of the procedure. Vision tends to stabilize more rapidly with LASIK than PRK so most patients are able to drive within the first few days following the procedure. The patient should be careful of bumping or rubbing the eyes for at least 3 months.
A: Your procedure will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes for both eyes. The actual laser will take only 20 to 30 seconds to reshape your cornea. The remainder of the time is used to prep your eye(s) and complete the procedure. (The procedure consists of numbing the eyes, inserting a speculum to keep the eye open during procedure, creating the flap with microkeratome, ablation of corneal tissue, replacing the flap and realigning the flap).
A: We refer to different centers each with different, yet technologically advanced systems. There is a Nidek EC-5000 Excimer Laser, a VISX Star 4-IR Excimer Laser, and the IntraLase FS Femtosecond Laser. The Nidek EC-5000 is a cool-beam laser used to correct refractive errors. The VISX Star 4-IR is a cool-beam laser system that performs our CustomVue LASIK procedure, which not only corrects refractive error, but also the minor imperfections in the optical system resulting in vision correction that cannot be attained with glasses or contact lenses. The IntraLase FS Laser is used for the creation of the corneal flap, which significantly reduces the risk of surgical complications during the first step of the LASIK procedure. We also now offer the iLASIK procedure. The iLASIK procedure combines the safety of the IntraLase laser- created flap and the CustomVue Lasik procedure. With this procedure you will get a completely personalized procedure based on advanced vision correction technology.
A: As with any surgical procedure, there are no guarantees. Although the results are extremely good (95% of patients in national studies no longer need glasses for driving), the results of the procedure depend on your initial refraction, your own healing characteristics and other factors. It is good to look at LASIK as a way of achieving an extreme decrease in your dependence on glasses or contact lenses. If 20/20 vision is not obtained after the primary LASIK procedure, enhancements may be effective to further improve vision. 20/20 can only be achieved in patients who have the potential to obtain 20/20 vision.
A: LASIK is often done on both eyes at the same time. The results are so predictable and the procedure safe enough that most people prefer to have both eyes done at the same time. Bilateral surgery is convenient in that is restores your balance vision as quickly as possible. With PRK, you may want to have your eyes done on consecutive weeks because it may take a few days for the functional vision to return. By doing one eye at a time, you can rely on the other while the postoperative eye is healing. Additionally, surgeons may elect to do one eye at a time in patients with extreme myopia because these patients can be less predictable in terms of their response to the laser.
A: If your eyes have a residual refractive error after your procedure and you choose not to have an enhancement procedure, you can wear contact lenses. You may wear contact lenses within a few weeks. If you were a good lens wearer before LASIK, it is unlikely that you will have problems after. With PRK, you may need to wait up to 3 months before wearing contact lenses.
A: Yes. The surgical technique used will not change. However, your lens implant will be calculated using a different formula. LASIK does not speed up the progress of cataracts, nor does it prevent cataracts from forming.
A: This would be very unlikely. LASIK is a form of lamellar refractive surgery, and lamellar refractive surgery has been performed since 1949. Patients who have undergone these related, but less accurate and more invasive procedures fifty years ago, have not developed any unusual problems.

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