1. How do I know if I'm a candidate for LASIK?
We will complete a thorough eye exam to confirm whether you are nearsighted, farsighted, and/or if you have astigmatism. Also there must not be any ocular health problems present, such as cataracts or untreated glaucoma. Additional measurements are needed, such as the thickness of the cornea and a corneal surface mapping. Our ophthalmologists can ultimately determine whether you are a candidate for LASIK.
2. What should I look for in choosing my surgeon?
The success of the LASIK procedure depends largely on the training, skills, and experience of your surgeon. Our LASIK surgeon is a fully-certified AMO and Alcon LASIK physician. Qualified LASIK surgeons should meet the following basic criteria: board certification by the American Board of Ophthalmology, with advanced training in cornea and refractive surgery; skills and experience with a prominent ophthalmology practice, having performed many LASIK and refractive surgical procedures; and an ability to help patients understand all of the potential outcomes and complications. While the proliferation of LASIK advertising and promotional activities may tempt price-conscious individuals, it is important to remember that LASIK is a lifetime investment. Taking the time to research the credentials and experience of the surgeon is important in achieving the best results.
3. What happens with a LASIK procedure? And how long will the procedure take to complete?
The procedure only requires 5-7 minutes per eye. The procedure is done under topical anesthetic drops. During the BladeFree IntraLase procedure, a laser is used to create a flap and to remove a precise amount of corneal tissue. After the laser treatment, the flap is laid back into position and kept in place by natural suction, 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 minimum discomfort during the first 24-hour period.
4. How does the laser work?
The specific lasers used by Avery Eye Clinic are the AMO Excimer Star S4 laser, and the Alcon Allgretto. These lasers use a cold light beam to sculpt the cornea's surface to the desired shape, correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism.
5. Does the procedure hurt?
The cornea is easily numbed with eye drops during the procedure. Most patients say they have little to no discomfort during and after the LASIK procedure.
6. How long does it take to recover from the procedure?
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 blurry during this time. Most patients nap for a couple of hours to rest their eyes. After several hours, the irritation usually goes away, and the vision begins to clear. The day after surgery, most irritating sensations are completely gone, and the vision is usually clear.
7. What if I hate to have anything in my eye?
What if I am really nervous about having something in my eye? This is a common issue for many people, and many have been able to have the procedure without difficulty. A mild sedative is available prior to surgery to encourage relaxation during the procedure and to encourage sleep afterwards. The surgeons and operating room technicians often talk throughout the procedure to put patients at ease.
8. 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.
9. What if I move my eye or blink during the procedure?
You will be lying back in a comfortable chair, staring up into a fixation light. During the procedure, a speculum, or lid separator, is used to hold the eyelids open and to prevent blinking. The laser also tracks the pupil and iris landmarks during the procedure. The surgeon has complete control of the laser at all times and, if the need should arise, can stop the procedure until the patient can focus on the fixation light.
10. 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 license test without corrective lenses. It is important to know that LASIK does not eliminate the need for reading glasses. Beginning at around the age of 40, a condition called presbyopia usually appears, requiring reading glasses or bifocal correction. The laser cannot correct presbyopia at this time; however, there are some promising treatment options on the horizon.
11. How long will I need to take off work?
Most patients return to work within two days; some even go back the day after surgery.
12. 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 be resumed, and the ability to play sports without glasses makes them more enjoyable for many patients.
13. 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.
14. 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 cornea to resolve and for fluctuations to cease. Many patients do have healing that, in a minor sense, may continue to improve over six to nine months.
15. 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 procedures, however, there may be complications. Vision-threatening complications do exist, but they are extremely rare. These include infections (an incidence of 1 in 5,000) and irregular healing processes that can lead to something called "irregular astigmatism" that glasses cannot correct 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.
16. 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 95 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 correction with an enhancement often improves vision to a satisfactory level.
17. I am farsighted. Can LASIK correct my vision?
In the low and moderate ranges of farsightedness, LASIK can be an option. For high levels of farsightedness, LASIK generally does not work as well, and other refractive procedures may provide a better level of correction.
18. What about astigmatism?
Astigmatism occurs when the cornea is oval rather than round. The laser can treat most levels of astigmatism. The laser does this by removing more tissue in one direction of the cornea than in another to make it rounder.
19. 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 punctal plugs that are placed in the lower eyelid tear ducts can be inserted with a significant improvement in dryness. These are easily removed in the office once the dryness resolves, or they can be left in place permanently.
20. I need reading glasses. Can LASIK correct my vision?
LASIK only corrects the distance vision. If LASIK is performed such that distance glasses are not needed, and the patient is over 40, it is likely that they will need to put on a pair of glasses to read. The exception to this is when patients opt to have monovision, where one eye is corrected fully for distance and the other eye is left nearsighted. Only about 10 to 20 percent of patients opt to have monovision correction, and it is only recommended in patients who have tried it with contact lenses and liked the results.
21. What is the cost of LASIK?
The cost varies depending upon the patient's prescription, but with financing options that are available, can be quite affordable. We offer 0% to low-interest financing programs. Click Financing Options for more information. Additionally, company Health Flex Plans may apply to improve the overall value of the procedure.
22. Will insurance cover LASIK?
Most insurance companies do not cover LASIK. Some special employee programs, however, do cover a certain percentage. Patients should inquire with their human resources department to determine benefits and coverage.