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LASIK Surgery FAQs
What are the treatment options for my vision problems if I have nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), or astigmatism?
These problems can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery.
What is refractive surgery?
Refractive surgery is a term used to describe a group of surgical procedures that may reduce or eliminate your need for corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses to see distant objects. These include Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK), PhotoRefractive Keratectomy (PRK), Radial Keratotomy and Astigmatic Keratotomy (RK/AK), Conductive Keratoplasty (CK), Phakic Intraocular Lens Implantation (also known as Implantable Contact Lenses), and Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), to name a few. These procedures offer an alternative to glasses or contacts but can only improve vision if it can be improved with glasses or contacts lenses.
What is Laser Vision Correction (LVC)?
This is a group of refractive surgery procedures (including LASIK and PRK) that uses an excimer laser. The excimer laser is often referred to as a “cool beam” laser as its beam is invisible and does not generate heat. Instead it works by very precisely removing and thereby reshaping a thin layer of the tissue of the cornea, the front clear windshield of your eye. By reshaping your cornea, your desired vision correction may be achieved. A specially trained ophthalmologist performs this computer-guided laser treatment. The first eyes treated with an excimer laser in the United States were treated in 1987.
How are LASIK and PRK similar and different?
Both are outpatient surgical procedures where an ophthalmologist uses a computer-guided excimer laser to reshape the curvature of the cornea to achieve the desired correction. In preparation for these procedures, numbing drops are placed in the eyes and an instrument called a speculum is placed to prevent you from blinking.
With PRK, the eye surgeon first removes the surface layer of cells by using a softening solution or the laser and then applies the laser to sculpt the underlying corneal tissue to achieve the desired correction. Upon completion, a bandage contact lens is placed for comfort and the surface layer then heals back in place over the next 72 hours. In LASIK, a flap with a hinge on one side is created in the cornea either with a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser. The flap is then lifted and the excimer laser is applied to sculpt the underlying corneal tissue to achieve the desired correction. The flap is then repositioned and reattaches with the natural hydrostatic forces of the cornea so that no stitches are needed.
Both procedures have minimal discomfort with the main sensations being a pressure-like sensation with the placement of the eyelid speculum and while the flap is being created with LASIK. After LASIK, there are generally a few hours or more where the eye has a scratchy, foreign-body sensation and sensitivity to light. In contrast, PRK generally has a period of 3-4 days during which this sensation may last. The visual recovery is generally more immediate with LASIK however both procedures generally achieve the same desired result.
What is the difference between wavefront (also called “custom”) LASIK and conventional LASIK?
Wavefront measures and corrects for more subtle distortions (called higher order aberrations) than just nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism that are corrected by conventional LASIK. Higher order aberrations account for only a small amount (probably no more than 10%) of the total refractive error of the average person’s eye. Conventional LASIK increases higher order aberrations whereas wavefront-guided LASIK decreases these aberrations. In studies comparing wavefront-guided LASIK to conventional LASIK, a larger percentage of patients treated with wavefront-guided LASIK achieved 20/20 vision without glasses or contact lenses compared to subjects treated with conventional LASIK.
What is the difference between traditional LASIK and “All-Laser LASIK” (also known as “Bladeless LASIK” or “IntraLASIK”)?
The difference between traditional LASIK and “All-Laser” or “Bladeless” LASIK is the method by which the LASIK flap is created. In “All-Laser LASIK”, a femtosecond laser device called a laser keratome, is used to create a corneal flap for LASIK surgery. This is a newer method to create a corneal flap than the traditional method of using a microkeratome, a mechanical device with a moving blade. There is no absolute agreement among all eye surgeons on the better choice for flap creation. Dr. Manning and many other surgeons believe that the computer-controlled laser provides superior precision as compared to that of a hand-held mechanical blade. This provides greater safety and control of flap size and thickness.
Why do patients and surgeons choose LASIK more often than PRK?
Because the healing occurs on the internal part of the cornea with LASIK, the healing time and visual recovery is generally quicker. PRK requires more of a waiting period for the surface cells of the cornea to regrow and for the healing reaction of the surface of the eye to subside.
Who is a LASIK or Laser Vision Correction candidate?
The ideal LASIK candidates are persons over 18 years of age with healthy corneas and realistic expectations. People with certain medical conditions and women who are pregnant or nursing are not candidates for LASIK. Realistic expectations are a very important part of a person’s candidacy for LASIK.
What sentiments would make me a good candidate for LASIK / Laser Vision Correction when thinking about whether or not I should consider undergoing the procedure? If you feel that:
- I do not like to be dependent upon my corrective lenses (glasses or contacts) to see clearly.
- I am a fairly easy-going person.
- Contact lens care and the routine of putting them in and taking them out all the time bothers me.
- I have wished that I could save the time out of my daily routine that is taken up with contact lens care.
- I worry about what would happen if I lost or broke my glasses. Without them, I am afraid that I would be completely disabled.
- Wearing corrective lenses limits my participation in sports and other activities that I enjoy.
- I have never been a good contact lens candidate/wearer.
- I worry about the risk of permanent blindness that can occur with contact lens-associated infections such as corneal ulcers.
- I usually adjust well to change.
- I would be happy if my vision was greatly improved, even if I had to wear corrective lenses some of the time.
- Having good vision without corrective lenses is more important to me than having great vision with corrective lenses.
- I have often wished to be free from corrective lenses.
What conditions would make me NOT a good candidate for LASIK / Laser Vision Correction?
- Age less than 18 years
- Unstable prescription (more than 0.25-0.50 diopters change in your glasses or contacts within 1 year)
- Keratoconus or pellucid marginal degeneration – these are diseases characterized by abnormal progressive weakening of the cornea
- Thin corneas
- Pupil size greater than 7mm
- History of keloid formation
- Ocular herpes or shingles
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Uncontrolled inflammatory diseases (including but not limited to Lupus, Sjogren’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and other Collagen Vascular Disease)
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding
- Unwillingness to commit to pre- and post-procedure care instructions, including eye drops
What sentiments would make me NOT a good candidate for LASIK / Laser Vision Correction when thinking about whether or not I should consider undergoing the procedure? If you feel that:
- I like wearing corrective lenses (glasses or contacts) and would feel uncomfortable without them.
- I like how I look wearing glasses better than how I look without glasses.
- I don’t mind wearing corrective lenses and they give me excellent vision for all activities.
- I am a perfectionist and even small irregularities bother me.
- I get upset or stressed out easily when things don’t seem to happen in just the way that I had expected.
- I don’t accept changes easily.
- If I needed more correction after my treatment, I would be devastated.
- I would be upset if I did not end up with perfect vision after my procedure and would consider the entire experience a failure.
If I am pregnant or nursing, how long must I wait to have LASIK?
You must wait a minimum of six weeks after you are no longer pregnant or breast-feeding. Even then, we must assess that some of the changes or fluctuations that can occur with your cornea during pregnancy are no longer taking place so that you may receive your best possible result.
If I have had a previous eye injury, can I still have Laser Vision Correction?
A complete eye examination is necessary to determine whether you may still be a good candidate despite a prior eye injury.
If I have “lazy eye” or amblyopia, can I still have Laser Vision Correction?
Amblyopia, sometimes called “lazy eye”, is a condition of incomplete visual development in a person with otherwise healthy eyes. If you have amblyopia, Laser Vision Correction generally cannot improve your vision to a level that is better than your best-corrected vision with your corrective lenses. To establish realistic expectations of what Laser Vision Correction may achieve in your amblyopic eye, you should discuss this further with your eye doctor.
Why do I need to stop wearing contact lenses prior to my LASIK preoperative testing?
Contact lenses can change the shape of your cornea, similar to how a watchband that you have been wearing can make an imprint on the skin of your wrist. If your eyes are measured too soon after taking out contacts, several of the tests could give inaccurate results that could affect your outcome.
How long does the LASIK procedure take?
The surgical process itself is very quick, usually under 10 minutes for each eye. The actual laser treatment time takes only 15 to 90 seconds depending upon the amount of correction needed. Including surgery preparations, you should plan to be at our LASIK center for up to 2 hours.
Will I be awake while the procedure is being performed?
Yes, you will need to be awake in order to focus on a red blinking light within the microscope during the procedure. This helps to ensure that your treatment will be centered over your pupil.
What happens if my eye moves during the procedure?
At Gulfcoast Eye Care, we utilize the most advanced lasers for laser vision correction. These lasers have sophisticated eye-tracking features that can detect and compensate for even tiny movements of the eye. In making these adjustments continually throughout your procedure, the laser beam is guided to remain centered precisely over the treatment area. In this way, the exact treatment is delivered precisely where it is intended providing the highest level of comfort, precision, and safety.
Can I have both eyes treated at the same time?
Yes, most patients undergoing LASIK or PRK prefer to have both eyes treated on the same day for the sake of convenience. This is a decision that is best discussed between you and your doctor.
What will my results be? Will my vision be 20/20 after Laser Vision Correction?
The results of LASIK and Laser Vision Correction are quite remarkable. In the US Clinical Trials that led to the approval of LASIK for the treatment of nearsightedness, 100% of patients experienced improvement in their uncorrected vision. Over 90% of patients achieved 20/40 or better, the “driving standard” in most states. Since the time of those studies and as techniques have been refined, more recent studies have shown 95-98% of eyes with mild to moderate nearsightedness achieve 20/40 or better and about two-thirds achieved 20/20 vision. Clearly, the majority of patients find that LASIK and Laser Vision Correction enables them to enjoy life and perform most activities without glasses or contact lenses.
What percentage of patients experience visual side effects, especially driving at night?
At 6 months after LASIK less than 2% experience halos, glare or starburst symptoms.
Are LASIK and PRK FDA approved?
Yes. The specific ranges of correction vary by laser manufacturer.
Is LASIK covered by insurance?
Generally, insurance companies view LASIK as an elective procedure and therefore do not cover the cost of LASIK. Very few insurance companies offer LASIK discounting with participating providers. We offer special LASIK savings promotions as well as great financing options. If your insurance offers discounting or some coverage for LASIK, please bring your policy terms with you so that we may determine whether you qualify for special savings.
How much work will I have to miss?
Many patients return to work in approximately two to three days. It depends on the nature of your work and your healing process. Most patients resume normal activities the next day.
How many postoperative appointments will I need to go to after surgery?
Plan for 3 or 4 short postoperative visits during the first 3 months after your surgery. The purpose of these visits is to monitor your healing process and help to ensure that you achieve your best possible visual outcome.
Are my eyes patched following the Laser Vision Correction procedure?
No. You will be given post-LASIK instructions that include some eye shields to wear at night or when sleeping immediately following your LASIK procedure. The purpose of these is to prevent you from rubbing your eyes.
How long will I need to use eye drops after Laser Vision Correction?
In both LASIK and PRK, antibiotic drops are used for approximately one week to prevent infection. Steroid and/or anti-inflammatory drops are used to help regulate the healing process of the corneal tissue. In LASIK, these drops are generally used for one week. In PRK, these drops may be used for several weeks.
How soon after surgery can I drive?
You should avoid driving immediately after surgery while you are still under the influence of relaxing medications. You may resume driving as soon as you feel comfortable with your vision. The majority of patients are able to drive on their own on the day following LASIK. Following PRK, it may take 4-5 days to feel comfortable that your vision is clear enough for driving.
When can I exercise after Laser Vision Correction?
One day following your procedure however it is advisable not to let dirty sweat run onto the surface of your eyes.
When can I fly following Laser Vision Correction?
Following your one-day postoperative examination you are able to fly as a passenger.
Can I scuba dive following Laser Vision Correction?
Yes, you may scuba dive as soon one week following your procedure once your LASIK surgeon clears you.
When can I wear eye makeup after surgery?
It is best to wait one week prior to wearing eye makeup. To decrease your risk of infection, it is a good idea to purchase new mascara.
How many people have had LASIK?
LASIK is the most popular elective procedure done today. Approximately 8 million people have had LASIK in the United States.
Will I have the opportunity to meet with my LASIK surgeon prior to surgery?
Yes. If you have a specific question about LASIK, you may contact us now. We have surgical counselors available to answer your questions Monday through Friday 8:30AM – 10:00PM and from Noon to 6PM on Saturday and Sunday. We will be happy to speak to you directly to answer any of your questions about LASIK and Gulfcoast Eye Care. We look forward to hearing from you!
Is Dr. Manning “Board Certified”?
Yes, Dr. Michael Manning is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.
How do I know whether I may be a candidate for any of these procedures?
The best way to determine whether you which procedure is right for you is to meet with one of our doctors. Gulfcoast Eye Care utilizes the latest technology to provide you with the customized treatment designed to meet your specific needs. Dr. Manning can sit down with you one-on-one to answer your questions and review which treatment options will be best suited to your eyes and your vision.
How do I proceed? What is my next step?
Please contact Gulfcoast Eye Care today at 727.785.4419 to speak with a surgical counselor. Our counselors are available Monday through Friday 8:30AM – 10:00PM and Saturday and Sunday from Noon to 6PM. We will be happy to schedule a complimentary evaluation for you. Alternatively, you may contact us by email by filling out our form at the right side of your screen.