AM I A CANDIDATE FOR LASER VISION CORRECTION SURGERY?
Candidates for Laser Vision Correction should be 18 years or older with stable vision, healthy eyes and a prescription that falls within the recommended range of effective treatment. In some cases, such as CustomVue™ (Wavefront -Guided) treatments patients should be 21 years of age or older. Following an initial evaluation and comprehensive eye exam your doctor in consultation with you will decide which procedure is right for you. Laser Vision Correction can benefit a great number of people with myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. Candidates should have a strong desire to be less dependent on corrective lenses and willing to accept the risks of surgery.
IS LASER VISION CORRECTION SAFE?
There are possible risks with any surgical procedure. Serious complications with LASIK or PRK are extremely rare and the chance of having a vision-reducing complication from LASIK has been documented in clinical studies to be less than one percent. Careful patient selection and thorough pre-operative testing using the latest diagnostic technology can help eliminate most of the risk for such complications.
After laser vision correction, you may experience some visual side effects. These are usually mild and most often diminish over a few days to a few weeks. But there is a slight chance that some of these side effects won’t go away completely, such as feelings of dryness, glare and halos. If after a thorough examination we decide you are a good candidate for laser vision correction, you will be given additional information about the procedure that will allow you to make an informed decision about whether to proceed. Be sure you have all your questions answered to your satisfaction.
HAS ANYONE EVER GONE BLIND BECAUSE OF LASIK?
In the many thousands of LASIK cases performed worldwide, we know of no recorded incidence of anyone losing their eyesight due to this procedure.
WHAT ABOUT NIGHT TIME SIDE-EFFECTS?
You have probably heard about people having difficulty driving at night after refractive surgery. Nighttime side-effects may include halos, starbursts, and glare around lights and blurry vision. Some of these can be caused by overcorrection,undercorrection, or residual astigmatism. These effects usually diminish as the eye heals in the first three to six months. Sometimes additional touch-up (enhancement) procedures will be recommended to help alleviate these symptoms.
Pupil size is another possible cause of nighttime side-effects. At night, the pupil expands to let in more light. Light coming through the peripheral cornea may be out of focus if the pupil opens beyond the laser treatment area. This is why some patients are not good candidates forLASIK if they have very large pupils. However, our Advanced Laser Technology has expanded treatment zones with larger blending zones between treated and non-treated areas. This decreases the potential and severity for night time symptoms. Patients that were at one time not candidates for LASIK because they had large pupils, can now be treated.
DOES LASIK CAUSE DRY EYES?
Following a LASIK procedure, every patient has temporary dry eyes which can be treated most often with artificial tears. This dry eye sensation usually clears up in eight to 12 weeks except in rare cases, where it may take longer.
Patients with pre-existing dry eye may not be good candidates for LASIK, but may be candidates for PRK or LASEK. If you have dry eye, you should discuss it with your doctor at your pre-op examination. Tests can often diagnose dry eye but it is still somewhat difficult to predict who will experience significant dry eye following LASIK. A thorough evaluation of your current medications, medical history and work environment should all be taken into account.
Use of Restasis eye drops helps decrease dry eye. Some of the patietns that are not good candidates for Laser Vision Correction due to dry eyes have actually had successful vision correction after being treated with Restasis.
WHAT KEEPS THE FLAP IN POSITION?
Following your procedure, the flap stays in position without the need for stitches. Initially, there is a natural vacuum effect created by the cells lining the inner surface of the cornea. As the eye heals over the first few days, the epithelium (the outer surface of the cornea) seals the edges of the flap.
DOES LASER VISION CORRECTION HURT?
No, the procedure is painless. Anesthetic eye drops are placed in the eye to numb it. Most patients say they feel some pressure during the procedure, which only lasts a few seconds. After the procedure you may have some foreign body sensation, light sensitivity, tearing or “burning” in the eyes, which should subside after a few hours. These symptoms are temporary.
WILL I BE ABLE TO SEE RIGHT AWAY?
Most patients will notice improvement in vision immediately following treatment. Visual recovery varies for each person, but usually stabilizes at 3 months. The speed at which your vision improves is due to individual healing rates, type of procedure and degree of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Most patients find that their eyes feel fairly normal within a day. If necessary, enhancements (touch-ups) can be done after your vision has stabilized to further improve your vision.
WHEN CAN I RETURN TO WORK?
It depends on your occupation. Most patients go back to work and resume their daily activities within one to three days following LASIK. Your doctor will discuss any activities you should avoid immediately after your treatment.
WILL I HAVE 20/20 VISION AFTER LASIK?
An overwhelming majority of patients achieve vision which enables them to perform most of their daily activities without the need for glasses or contact lenses.
WHAT IF MY EYE MOVES DURING THE PROCEDURE?
Both the VISX STAR S4™ as well as the Allegretto Wave IQ Excimer Laser have a tracking system which follows the eye during the laser treatment. If any large eye movements occur, the laser automatically stops. Once the eye is repositioned the physician will resume the laser treatment to the appropriate area of the cornea.
HOW LONG DOES THE LASER VISION CORRECTION PROCEDURE TAKE?
The whole procedure takes about 20-30 minutes for two eyes. Your entire visit might be about two hours. This will include arriving at the laser center, signing the consent documents, taking pre-operative medications, the procedure itself and the brief post-operative recovery period.
DO I NEED TO STOP WEARING CONTACTS BEFORE LASIK SURGERY?
If you are wearing hard or gas permeable contacts, it’s important that you remove them at least three weeks prior to your exam. Soft lenses should be out for at least one week before your exam. Soft toric lenses may need to be out longer. Your doctor will advise you how long you need to be out of your contacts prior to your exam and prior to your surgery.
HOW OLD DO I HAVE TO BE FOR LASER VISION CORRECTION?
You need to be over 18 years of age, and your glasses or contact lens prescription should not have changed in the last year. If your eye is still changing from year to year, you should not have the procedure until the cornea is stable.
CAN I HAVE LASER VISION CORRECTION WHILE PREGNANT OR WHILE TRYING TO CONCEIVE?
Pregnancy and the associated hormonal changes can affect your vision, therefore if you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you should not have laser vision correction. You should wait several months after your pregnancy or after you finish nursing before having laser vision correction.
HOW LONG WILL THE RESULTS OF THE SURGERY LAST?
Laser vision correction is considered to be permanent. However, your eyes can still change as you age which may cause a need for glasses or contacts or additional vision correction procedures in the future. As people reach their early forties, they develop presbyopia and begin to need reading glasses. If you’re over 35, you may want to consider monovision. Your surgeon will discuss this option with you and inform you if you are a good candidate for this type of procedure. A brief contact lens trial simulating monovision is usually attempted to help make this decision.
WILL MY INSURANCE COVER MY PROCEDURE?
A few insurance companies do pay for all or part of vision correction procedures. You can check with your plan administrator, or we will be happy to make a copy of your insurance card and check coverage for you. Many people have medical flex plans. They can be used to save up to 50 percent on their procedure by using pre-tax dollars. Your employer’s human resources department can tell you whether you have this benefit. Vision correction also may be tax deductible as a medical expense (check with your financial advisor).