How do I know if I'm a candidate for LASIK?
A complete eye exam will confirm whether the you are nearsighted, farsighted and/or have astigmatism. There must be no untreated ocular health problems, such as significant cataracts or untreated glaucoma. Additional measurements are needed, such as the thickness of the cornea and a corneal surface mapping, which will be done in the pre-operative evaluation. A qualified optometrist or ophthalmologist can ultimately determine whether you are a candidate for LASIK. Please feel free to take our LASIK self-evaluation TEST and a patient coordinator will contact you to discuss your candidacy steps!
What should I look for in choosing my surgeon?
The success of any LASIK procedure depends more on the skills and experience of the surgeon than other surgical procedures. A qualified surgeon should be well trained in Ophthalmology and be board certification by the American Board of Ophthalmology and be trained in refractive surgery, and have experience with ophthalmic disease. The ideal surgeon should have performed many types of ocular surgeries and have performed many Lasik procedures, too. It is important to keep in mind that you are making a lifetime investment when choosing to have LASIK so you should take your time and select the right surgeon for you.
What is involved in LASIK? How long does it take?
The procedure takes 5-7 minutes per eye. It is done under topical anesthetic drops and sedatives are given prior to the procedure. During LASIK, an instrument called a microkeratome is used to lift a thin layer (flap) of the cornea and a laser is used to remove a precise amount of the cornea to shape the surface of the eye so that objects are focused clearly on the retina. After the laser treatment, the flap is laid back into position and kept in place by natural adhesion with no sutures. Eye drops are used and plastic shields are placed over the eyes to protect them until the following day. Results are almost immediate, with minimal discomfort during the first 24-hour period.
What about recovery?
Recovery is fast. The first couple of hours after surgery, the eye feels somewhat irritated, with a burning sensation and some tearing. Vision is typically smokey of hazy during this time. Most patients nap for a couple of hours due to the preoperative sedation. After several hours, the irritation goes away and the vision begins to clear. The day after surgery, most irritating sensations are completely gone and vision is remarkably clear.
I hate to have anything in my eye. What if I am really nervous?
A mild sedative will be administered prior to surgery to encourage relaxation to encourage sleep afterwards. The surgeons and operating room technicians will talk you through the procedure to keep you at ease.
Are both eyes done at the same time?
Some patients may prefer to have each eye done on different days. In most cases, however, both eyes are done on the same day. This avoids the period of imbalance that occurs if one eye still needs correction while the other one doesn't. This is a discussion that you should have with the surgeon so that you can decide what is best for you.
Will I need glasses after the surgery?
With any medical procedure, there is not a guarantee of perfect vision. Almost everyone experiences improved vision, however, and most see well enough to pass a drivers' test without corrective lenses. It is important to know that LASIK does not always eliminate the need for glasses in all situations. Some may need glasses for best distance vision and some may need reading glasses of very small viewing. Beginning at around the age of 40, a condition called presbyopia usually appears, requiring reading glasses or bifocal correction when the eyes are properly corrected for far away viewing. For those desiring to see well near and far without the use of glasses or contact lenses, Monovision may be just right for you.
Will LASIK interfere with my lifestyle?
Active sports should be postponed for two weeks or until the eye is fully healed, unless protective eyewear is approved by the surgeon. Swimming, hot tubs and saunas should be avoided, as well. After full recovery, normal activity can resume, and the ability to play sports without glasses makes them more enjoyable for many patients.
How long will the correction last?
LASIK is a permanent procedure. In some cases, however, an enhancement procedure may be required. Some patients' eyes may change throughout their lifetime, which can happen with glasses or contact lenses as well.
Is it true that it takes six months to improve vision after LASIK?
Fluctuation can occur, but visual improvement is almost immediate following the procedure. Most patients feel that major fluctuations have stopped after two weeks. At the same time, it may take additional time for all of the swelling in the eye to resolve and fluctuations to cease. Many patients do have healing that, in a minor sense, may continue to improve over six to nine months.
How safe is the procedure? Are there complications?
The procedure is very safe, and that is why it has been so readily accepted. With any surgical procedure, however, there may be complications. Vision-threatening complications do exist, but they are unusual, these include: infections (an incidence of 1 in 50,000), irregular healing that can lead to "irregular astigmatism" that glasses cannot correct fully and contact lenses or further surgery may be required to improve. There are also complications which may lead to temporary blurriness, temporary dependence on glasses or contact lenses or a need for additional surgery. In most cases, the patient can still do well and recover with good vision. It is for this reason that LASIK patients should confirm the experience of their surgeon to determine if he or she has specialized training in cornea surgery. Because LASIK is performed on the cornea, knowledge of the healing properties of the cornea and management of any complications are critical to the patient's well being. Knowing how to handle a complication, should one occur, can make a significant difference in the patient's outcome.
What is the success rate?
Success depends on several factors, the most important being the degree of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Depending on the prescription, the surgeon can help determine the likelihood of reaching 20/40 or greater vision. Approximately 98 percent of eyes treated with LASIK reach 20/40 or better vision with one procedure, which is the requirement for driving legally without correction. If a patient does not achieve his or her goal with one procedure, additional enhancement surgery often improves vision to a satisfactory level. Not all qualify for enhancement and may require contact lenses or spectacle correction.
I have dry eyes. Can LASIK help?
Many patients who desire LASIK surgery have dry eyes. They have become intolerant of their contact lenses because the dryness makes them uncomfortable. LASIK occasionally worsens dry eyes, but typically, this is temporary and usually treated with frequent artificial tear lubrication. In special cases of severely dry eyes, special lacrimal punctal plugs are placed in the lower eyelid tear drainage ducts to allow the tears which are made naturally or are instilled into the eye to remain there longer, thus keeping the eye moist longer. These are easily removed in the office once the dryness resolves, or they can be left in place permanently.
I need reading glasses. Can LASIK correct my vision?
LASIK can correct each eye for distance or each eye for better near vision or one for distance and one for near (monovision). If you are over 40-45 years of age and LASIK is performed such that distance glasses are not needed, it is likely that you will need to wear glasses to read. The exception to this is when patients opt to have monovision, when one eye is corrected fully for the distance and the other is left properly nearsighted. Monovision is great for about 90% of the population and is extremely versatile for allowing one to see both near and far.
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"I just wanted to take a moment to write to you and let you know how happy I am with my "new" eyes. I really can't even begin to tell you how much I love being able to see again without contacts, it is so wonderful!"