A: LASIK is a”hybrid” procedure, combining the ALK technique with the accuracy of the Excimer Laser. First the doctor will use an instrument called an Automated Corneal Shaper to create a thin surface-flap under the microscope; this will only take a few seconds. Then the Excimer Laser, which has been pre-programmed with your exact correction, applies a rapid, cool ultraviolet light that precisely sculpts a very small amount of the sub-surface of the cornea. These short laser pulses correct the curvature of the cornea, allowing images to be focused clearly on the retina. The flap is then smoothed back down where it quickly bonds back in place, usually in three to five minutes, restoring a smooth, intact surface.
A: Yes, our laser has been FDA approved.
A: The actual procedure usually takes less than 15 minutes. Depending on your prescription, and the amount of correction needed, the laser itself only takes 20-50 seconds to correct your vision. However, you should plan on being in the office for approximately an hour.
A: No. The treatment itself is painless. You will be given plenty of numbing (anesthetic) drops to completely numb the eye. You may feel a light pressure sensation around your eye, and after the procedure is finished, you will feel a sensation our patients describe as”wearing a poor-fitting contact lens” for a few hours…but you shouldn’t have any pain. We rarely find the need to prescribe anything for pain after the procedure – other than Tylenol.
A: Although everyone is a little different, the vast majority of our LASIK patients achieve legal driving vision or better, the very next day. That is one of the most exciting advantages of the LASIK procedure; clear vision comes quickly. The final result may take anywhere from a week to several weeks, but vision should improve gradually day by day.
A: There are few minor side effects associated with the LASIK procedure. Although post-operative pain is not commonly associated with the procedure (we don’t need to prescribe anything other than Tylenol), some patients feel a”foreign body sensation” for the first day or two. This is similar to the feeling of having a contact lens in the eye when you blink. Some patients may experience either”halos,” glare, or light sensitivity around bright lights for a few days after the procedure. It may also take a short period of time to adjust to your close-up, or reading vision.
A: Because, it’s completely unnecessary. You’ll realize just how unnecessary that would have been when you finally have your procedure done. Also, the risks associated with general anesthesia are excessive for a simple, pain-free procedure that only takes a few minutes.
A: No. You’ll need to have someone drive you home after the procedure. Although your vision may, or may not be good enough to drive right after the procedure, everyone is different. The Valium we give you prior to the procedure is a mild sedative…and sedatives and driving don’t mix.
A: Although everyone is a little different, the majority of our patients sees and feels well enough to go back to work a day or two after the procedure. If you do need to go to work the next day, you will first need to come in to our office for your post-op check.
A: We typically do both eyes at the same time with LASIK, although that decision should be made between you and the doctor. Since the vision comes in so quickly and the post-operative sensation is minimal, doing both eyes at the same time makes sense to most of our patients.
A: No. The approximate minimum age-range for Laser Vision Correction is 18-21. That’s because we require a”stable” prescription. Children are likely to have their prescription change over time, just like their shoe size and their height changes with time.
A: Although there’s no real”maximum age” for Laser Vision Correction, we would first need to determine that the overall health of hour eyes is good, and that your vision difficulties are not being caused or hindered by cataracts.
A: It’s perfectly normal to be concerned about the”worst case scenario.” Ironically, our patients’ most common initial area of concern is the safety of the laser itself. In actuality, the procedure is relatively safe – the excimer laser is computer controlled and activated by the surgeon. Statistically, there is a remote possibility of loss of vision due to corneal infection, which we address by maintaining sterile conditions in the procedure suite, and by instructing you to use an antibiotic drop for a few days after the procedure. We will also examine your eyes the day after the procedure to rule this remote possibility out. We have never had a patient lose vision due to corneal infection from refractive surgery.
There are other potential (but extremely rare) risks covered on our”Informed Consent” sheet. The FDA reviewed the data from hundreds of U.S.”Clinical Test Sites” before they approved the laser as”relatively safe and effective” for treating myopia and astigmatism. The doctor will be happy to discuss any additional concerns that you may have.
A: No. Many patients confuse presbyopia, or the natural aging process of the lens of the eye (which occurs in most people around age 40), with farsightedness. Whether or not you elect to have Laser Vision Correction, people over the age of 40 or 45 who see perfectly in the distance will need a pair of reading glasses to read. There is another alternative known as monovision correction, which some patients choose. The doctor can help you determine if monovision would be appropriate for you. Monovision corrects one eye for near and one eye for distance.
A: Before the decision is made to proceed with Laser Vision Correction, your vision needs to be stable. In the vast majority of people, myopia and astigmatism can progress through adolescence but stabilizes by age 18 or 21. Long-term results indicate that the procedure itself yields a permanent and stable correction. In the unlikely event that your distance vision decreased later in life, due to a change in your refractive error (prescription), we could generally touch-up the result at that time.
A: The Automated Corneal Shaper, or microkeratome is used by the doctor to precisely create a very fine surface-flap, just prior to the corrective laser treatment. This is entirely different from the incisions made in the cornea during the Radial Keratotomy (RK) procedure.
A: Although everyone shares this concern, the answer is simple. The doctor uses a small lid-holder, which cups the upper and lower lids that makes blinking impossible.
A: The chair in the laser room reclines, and is contoured with an indent, which allows the back of your head to rest securely, but comfortably in place. You’ll be positioned under the”fixation light” of the laser, and the doctor will place an inflatable pillow around your head. Lying still is a concern shared by everyone. However, the combination of the contoured chair, the fixation light, and the mild sedative, makes this a simple and quick experience.
A: We hesitate to use the word”guarantee” with any medical or surgical treatment, since there always is (and will be) the possibility of risk, or variations in outcome due to differences in the ability of the human body to heal identically. However, the results have been excellent; with the typical risk factor being lower than the risk many of us accept wearing contact lenses. Most importantly, Laser Vision Correction has produced the happiest patients we have ever seen in this practice. Over 70% of our new patients were referred to us from previous patients.
A: No. Starbursting is a visual side effect occasionally associated with the Radial Keratotomy procedure, which represents an”older generation” of corrective procedures.
A: Although merely having diabetes does not definitely rule out your ability to have Laser Vision Correction, the doctor is responsible for making the final decision. Some important factors include your blood glucose level, which can have an effect on your refractive error.
A: Our fee for Laser Vision Correction includes the use of the best (and most expensive) technology available. We use a FDA approved laser that costs a half a million dollars, along with a sixty thousand dollar corneal shaper. Part of your fee covers sophisticated diagnostic tests (such as corneal topography), a royalty fee paid to the laser manufacturer on every case, and the best follow-up care available anywhere. When you calculate the long-term cost of contact lenses and solutions, eye exams and glasses, and compare it with the cost of Laser Vision Correction, it makes even more sense. We offer monthly payment plans that help make the procedure affordable to nearly everyone. After having Laser Vision Correction, our patients experiencing life without glasses or contacts often tell us that it was the best investment decision that they have ever made.
A: Unfortunately, most insurance companies consider Laser Vision Correction to be an elective procedure. Elective and cosmetic procedures are generally not covered by medical insurance plans, but may be covered by your company’s flexible benefits plan (“Flex-Plan”). A Flex-Plan allows the employee to allocate a certain amount of pre-tax dollars toward elective medical procedures.
A: Actually, many of the insurance companies that did, at one time cover refractive surgery, have chosen to discontinue their coverage. Insurance companies understand how popular Laser Vision Correction is, and is rapidly becoming an expense that they would like to do without.
A: Although we can’t really predict the future price for Laser Vision Correction, many practices have actually increased their price over the last year or two, offering better technology, in the process. As the demand and popularity for Laser Vision Correction increases, it’s possible that the price could remain the same or increase. You should (as Newsweek Magazine advised in a June 1997 story) be wary of”bargains in Laser Vision Correction.”