Here are answers to the most common questions that we hear about LASIK. If you have additional questions, please make sure to let us know during your Complimentary Consultation.
Although having LASIK does carry some risk (just like everything else in life), no one has experienced blindness because of LASIK. Most risks are related to quality of vision issues, such as dry eyes and reduced night vision. However, even these risks have been significantly reduced by advances in laser technology.
LASIK has been declared by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, as safe and effective for most people. Over 12,500,000 Americans have had LASIK since the mid 1990’s with an extremely low complication rate. Factually, there is more risk from prolonged use of contacts than something going wrong during the LASIK procedure. However, confirming that you are a good candidate in the first place is the best assurance that you will have a successful outcome.
2. Aren’t contacts safer?
Both contacts and LASIK can be a safe alternative to glasses, but don’t assume contacts are the best alternative for all vision correction. Some studies have reported increased risk of infection from contacts due to prolonged wear and poor maintenance, or forgetting to take them out when you sleep. When performed on people that are good candidates, LASIK is a precise, permanent, no-maintenance solution to poor vision due to refractive error.
3. Can I really stop wearing glasses?
While everyone’s vision is different, getting rid of glasses depends on your age. If you choose to have LASIK from ages 18 to 45, from an experienced surgeon using the best technology, you will have a very high probability of being able to get rid of your prescription glasses or contacts.
Around the age of 45, a condition known as presbyopia begins to occur. Presbyopia is a result of aging, regardless if you’ve had LASIK; you will likely still need reading glasses due to the reduced flexibility of the lenses of your eyes. However, even presbyopia 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.
4. Will LASIK work for me?
Most people over age 18 suffering from nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism can be helped. Some of our patients can’t believe that they’ll actually achieve 20/20 without lenses, until they open their eyes after the procedure.
Some physical or medical factors such as corneal thickness or particular forms of diabetes may rule someone out as a LASIK candidate. The only way to know for sure if LASIK is the answer to your poor vision is, by having a full and comprehensive LASIK evaluation.
5. Will it hurt?
LASIK is virtually painless in the hands of an experienced surgeon, who is using advanced technology such as all-laser bladeless LASIK. You can expect to feel a slight sensation of pressure. Inserting or removing contact lenses, or just rubbing eyes when tired from wearing glasses, can produce more discomfort than an all-laser LASIK procedure. After a good night’s sleep you can expect to awaken to the joy of seeing the world clearly and without lenses.
6. When can I return to work? How much work will I miss?
Most people are able to return to work within 24-48 hours after their LASIK procedure. Immediately after the procedure you’ll be asked to go home and take a nap, so the healing process can get off to a good start. You’ll also be given eye drops that will reduce the risk of infection. On the day following surgery your vision will generally be much improved, although some people experience moderate fluctuation of vision. Therefore, it’s best to plan for two days away from the office after the procedure. However, many people schedule their procedure one day and then return to work the next!
7. Isn’t all LASIK the same?
If LASIK was the same no matter where you went for the procedure, all ophthalmologists would be able to report the same results. The truth is that although each LASIK procedure is similar, the main factors that affect the outcome are technology, the thoroughness of the pre-op exam, and the surgeon’s expertise.
All-laser or blade-free LASIK is the best known and most popular refractive correction procedure, and is only performed by an ophthalmologic surgeon.
8. What if I can’t keep my eyes from moving during the procedure?
This is not an issue. Sometimes patients worry that they will affect the surgery by nervous or uncontrollable twitches, called saccadic eye movements. The lasers used by Colorado Ophthalmology Associates are equipped with an ultra high-speed eye tracking system that monitors eye movements with a response time of milliseconds. This eye tracker completely neutralizes eye movements to assure a quality treatment and increased patient safety.
9. What about nighttime side effects?
Most of us have night vision issues whether we have had LASIK or not. You may have heard about difficulty driving at night after refractive surgery, due to halos, starbursts and glare around lights. These were significant problems with LASIK, until about ten years ago. With current technology, pupil size has been determined not to be related to halos, and corneal reshaping has been refined to reduce significant halos to an uncommon problem. These effects, if they occur at all, usually diminish as the eye heals in the first three months. In extreme cases additional touch-up (enhancement) procedures will be recommended.
Additionally, the advent of the VISX S4 IR™ laser has expanded treatment zones, and has actually improved night vision in many cases. This advanced technology has enabled many patients, who once may not have been candidates for LASIK, to now be treated successfully.
10. Do I really need to care what laser will be used on my eyes?
Yes! Since the first procedures in the 1990’s, LASIK technology has advanced by leaps and bounds. For example, the original technique for creating the corneal flap involved a vibrating hand-held blade called a microkeratome. This has been surpassed by an advanced technology that employs a precision laser to make the flap, resulting in greater accuracy and more stability. This technique is known as blade-free or all-laser LASIK.
The earliest excimer lasers, that corrected the corneal irregularities, also had limitations that meant some patients could not be considered candidates. Today, lasers like the IntraLase® Femtosecond Laser and the VISX S4 IR™ have considerably expanded treatment zones and precision of outcomes.
To address this concern, just ask your doctor if he has updated his equipment in the last two years. Staying up-to-date with the best technology means a significant financial commitment by the surgeon and many centers do not upgrade their lasers. When it comes to your eyes, you don’t want anything less than the best possible quality.
11. Can’t I wait until LASIK gets cheaper?
This question is usually prompted by concerns about affordability. Unfortunately, the cost of LASIK has been rising since the 90’s and is likely to keep on rising. Like when you buy a new car, it isn’t cheaper than five years ago. Neither are clothes, restaurants, and cosmetics. Although some centers quote attractively low prices, the truth is, quality and assurance come at a price. At Colorado Ophthalmology we perform only the best procedure with the best equipment and staff, at the best price possible.
The good news is that the one-time cost of LASIK works out to be less expensive in the long-run than the ongoing expenses of glasses and contacts. With the payment options at Colorado Ophthalmology Associates, many people find their payments can be equivalent to what they are currently spending on glasses and contacts.
12. How can someone choose the best surgeon?
This is definitely the most important question of all. Although LASIK is marketed as a commodity, it is a medical procedure and in the final analysis, the skill and care of the surgeon are the most significant issues. Look for a local surgeon who will personally oversee every step of the procedure and take the time to answer all your questions.