8 Questions About LASIK
More than 4,000,000 Americans have already had LASIK and the number is increasing. Experienced LASIK surgeons report a less than 1% complication rate. *Many ophthalmologists believe the long-term risk of wearing contact lenses can exceed the one-time risk of LASIK by a factor as high as 5 times, and the most recent studies, including an Advisory from the FDA, suggest that contacts represent a serious risk to eye health.
* Sources: Mathers, W.D. Archives of Ophthalmology, October 2006; vol 124: pp 1510-1511. William Mathers, MD, professor of ophthalmology, Oregon Health & Science University Casey Eye Institute, Portland, OR.
By choosing LASIK with the right doctor and advanced technology, the typical person age 18 to 45 will not need prescription glasses at all.
Between age 40 and 50, a person will likely need reading glasses whether they have had LASIK or not, due to the reduced flexibility of their eyes’ lenses. This condition is called Presbyopia and can be effectively handled through a special LASIK technique known as monovision, which has given thousands the ability to see both close up and far away. If you are considering LASIK and are using reading glasses, you should ask your LASIK doctor if monovision will work for you.
Most people over age 18 who suffer from nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism can be helped, but a thorough eye exam is the only way to determine if LASIK can achieve your expectations. The exam should include full corneal mapping (topography), corneal thickness measurement and measurement of your pupil size to ensure that LASIK is right for you.
Your LASIK doctor should discuss your goals and expectations as well as the risks and benefits of the procedure. You should feel comfortable with your LASIK doctor’s assessment of your anticipated outcome before proceeding.
In the hands of an experienced LASIK doctor who is using advanced technology, the procedure is virtually painless. After a good night’s sleep, most people awaken to the joy of seeing the world clearly without contacts or glasses, usually for the first time in many years. Most people
are able to return to work within 24-48 hours of their LASIK procedure.
Procedures such as “epi-LASIK” and “LASEK” are forms of PRK: a type of vision correction where the laser treatment is done somewhat on the surface of the eye, instead of under the protective flap as with LASIK. PRK can be necessary for certain eye conditions where the cornea is too thin to create a protective flap. PRK is a less comfortable procedure than LASIK and can take up to two months to achieve the level of vision that LASIK can deliver in just a day or two but is better, when necessary, than the alternative of wearing contact lenses or glasses.
No. Many of the procedures described in this guide such as PRK, epi-LASIK and LASEK are all forms of laser vision correction because they all utilize a laser to reshape the cornea so that the refractive error of light entering the eye is reduced or eliminated. The primary difference is in how the cornea’s surface is prepared for the reshaping procedure. LASIK is the fastest and most comfortable of these procedures when performed by a highly skilled surgeon. Many of the discount centers want you to believe that LASIK should be purchased like a commodity and that surgeon’s involvement throughout the process, the laser technology, diagnostic technology, and follow-up care don’t matter. Laser vision correction will affect the way you see for the rest of your life. You should make your decision to have laser vision correction carefully, not quickly.
You may have heard stories in the past about people having difficulty driving at night after refractive surgery. Nighttime side-effects have included halos, starbursts, glare around lights and sometimes blurry vision. These effects usually diminished in the first three months as the eye healed. In extreme cases additional touch-up (enhancement) procedures may have been performed.
However, today’s advanced laser systems have dealt very authoritatively with these issues. All-laser LASIK technology allows for a thinner and more accurate flap, while the VisX Star 4 excimer laser allows the doctor to detect and solve the tiniest aberrations, resulting in a much higher percentage of patients achieving 20/20 vision in just one treatment, and a much lower likelihood of night vision problems.
This is definitely the most important question of all. Look for a local LASIK doctor who will personally oversee every step of the procedure and take the time to answer all your questions. Remember, the only ‘dumb’ question is the one you don’t ask. Ensure you feel at ease with the LASIK doctor and his staff and that you’re being treated with the respect and care that you deserve as an individual.
LASIK is an extremely precise procedure and a surgeon who is thoroughly skilled and expert, with a superb track record, knows precisely, and will inform you up front, as to what results he can achieve for you.