Patients who suffer from vision disorders often aspire to have a laser vision correction procedure. While not everyone is considered for laser vision correction, there are still a large population who are. Patients have many questions about LASIK because of the difference it can have on a persons life.
LASIK can truly change your life for the better, relieving the stress of having to deal with glasses or contacts. If you don’t find the answer to a question you have below or need more information please do not hesitate to contact us so that we can provide you with as much insight as needed to make a sound decision.
What is Involved in LASIK? How Long Does It Take?
The procedure takes 8-15 minutes per eye. It is done under topical anesthetic drops, so you will be awake throughout the procedure. Depending on the type of LASIK procedure, either a microkeratome or an excimer laser is used to create the corneal flap. Once the corneal flap is created and lifted a laser is used to change the shape of the cornea which well help to enhance your vision. After the laser treatment, the corneal flap is set 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 minimal discomfort.
How Do I Know If I'm a Candidate For LASIK?
The only way to know if you are a LASIK candidate is to schedule a consultation with a board certified ophthalmologist. During the consultation a complete eye evaluation will take place so that the doctor can determine if you are a strong candidate for LASIK. There must be no signs of ocular diseases present, such as signs of glaucoma or cataracts. If the doctor does not think you are qualified for LASIK, he or she will recommend vision correction alternatives.
What Should I look For in Choosing My Surgeon?
When selecting a surgeon for LASIK you should consider their experience. Look at how long they have been trained and how many surgeries they have performed. A qualified surgeon 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 thousands of LASIK and refractive surgical procedures; and the ability to help patients understand potential outcomes and complications. LASIK is a lifetime investment and like all major decision you should not rush into the procedure if you are have any uncertainties.
What about recovery?
Recovery is relatively quick considering the nature of the surgery. The first couple of hours after surgery, the eye(s) may feel 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 the eyes. 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 is available prior to surgery to encourage relaxation during the procedure and to encourage sleep afterward. The surgeon and operating room technicians often will talk throughout the procedure to help keep patients 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?
There are never any guarantees with medical procedures. LASIK is no different, not everyone will achieve perfect vision but almost all will experience drastic improvements. 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.
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 most visual improvement takes place immediately following the procedure. Most patients note 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 may continue to improve over six to nine months.
How safe is the procedure? Are there complications?
The LASIK procedure is very safe, and that is why it has been accepted by so many worldwide. With any surgical procedures, however, complications may arise. 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.
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, enhancements can be performed.
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.
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, when one eye is corrected fully for the distance and the other 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.