Patients with poor vision often seek to have a laser vision correction procedure to help them see better without glasses or contacts. While not everyone is considered eligible for laser vision correction, there are still a large population who are candidates. Most patients have questions about the procedure, results and life after LASIK surgery. These are just some of the questions we have received at North Suburban Eye Associates, P.C. If you do not find the answer to a question that you have about LASIK or Laser Vision Correction please contact our office and we will gladly assist you.
How Do I Know If I’m a Candidate For LASIK?
The only way to know if you are a LASIK candidate is to schedule a consultation with a board certified ophthalmologist. North Suburban Eye Associates, P.C. will provide patients with a thorough evaluation at any of our greater Boston locations before making any recommendations on laser vision correction. During the consultation a complete eye evaluation will take place so that the doctor can determine if you are a strong candidate for LASIK. There must be no signs of ocular diseases present, such as signs of glaucoma or cataracts. If the doctor does not think you are qualified for LASIK, he or she will recommend vision correction alternatives.
What Should I look For in Choosing My Surgeon?
When selecting a surgeon for LASIK you should consider their experience. A qualified surgeon should meet the following basic criteria: board certification by the American Board of Ophthalmology, with advanced training in corneal and refractive surgery; skills and experience with a prominent ophthalmology practice, having performed thousands of LASIK and refractive surgical procedures; and the ability to help patients understand potential outcomes and complications. LASIK is a lifetime investment and like all major decision you should not rush into the procedure if you are have any uncertainties.
What is Involved in LASIK? How Long Does It Take?
The procedure takes 8-15 minutes per eye. It is done under topical anesthetic drops, so you will be awake throughout the procedure. A corneal flap is created so that the laser can modify the cornea. Once the corneal flap is created and lifted a laser is used to change the shape of the cornea which well help to enhance your vision. After the laser treatment, the corneal flap is set back into position and kept in place by natural suction, not sutures. Eye drops are used and plastic shields are placed over the eyes to protect them until the following day.
What about recovery?
Recovery is relatively quick considering the nature of the surgery. The first couple of hours after surgery, the eye(s) may feel somewhat irritated, with a burning sensation and some tearing. Vision is typically blurry during this time. Most patients nap for a couple of hours to rest the eyes. After several hours, the irritation goes away and the vision begins to clear. The day after surgery, most irritating sensations are completely gone and vision is remarkably clear.
I hate to have anything in my eye. What if I am really nervous?
A mild sedative is available prior to surgery to encourage relaxation during the procedure and to encourage sleep afterward. The surgeon and operating room technicians often will talk throughout the procedure to help keep patients at ease.
Are both eyes done at the same time?
Some patients may prefer to have each eye done on different days. In most cases, however, both eyes are done on the same day. This avoids the period of imbalance that occurs if one eye still needs correction while the other one doesn’t. This is a discussion that you should have with the surgeon so that you can decide what is best for you.
Will I need glasses after the surgery?
There are never any guarantees with medical procedures. LASIK is no different. Not everyone will achieve perfect vision with LASIK but almost all will experience drastic improvements. It is important to know that LASIK does not eliminate the need for reading glasses. Beginning at around the age of 40, a condition called presbyopia usually begins, requiring reading glasses or bifocal correction. The laser cannot correct presbyopia at this time; however, there are some promising treatment options on the horizon.
Will LASIK interfere with my lifestyle?
Active sports should be postponed for two weeks or until the eye is fully healed, unless protective eye wear is approved by the surgeon. Swimming, hot tubs and saunas should be avoided, as well. After full recovery, normal activity can resume, and the ability to play sports without glasses makes them more enjoyable for many patients.
How long will the correction last?
LASIK is a permanent procedure. In some cases, however, an enhancement procedure may be required. Some patients’ eyes may change throughout their lifetime, which can happen with glasses or contact lenses as well.
Is it true that it takes six months to improve vision after LASIK?
Fluctuation can occur, but most visual improvement takes place immediately following the procedure. Most patients note that major fluctuations have stopped after two weeks. At the same time, it may take additional time for all of the swelling in the eye to resolve and fluctuations to cease. Many patients have healing that may continue to improve over six to nine months.
How safe is the procedure? Are there complications?
The LASIK procedure is very safe, and that is why it has been accepted worldwide. With any surgical procedures, however, complications may arise. Vision-threatening complications do exist, but they are extremely rare. These include infections (an incidence of 1 in 5,000) and irregular healing processes that can lead to something called “irregular astigmatism” that glasses cannot correct and contact lenses or further surgery may be required to improve. There are also complications, which may lead to temporary blurriness, temporary dependence on glasses or contact lenses or a need for additional surgery. In most cases, the patient can still do well and recover with good vision. It is for this reason that LASIK patients should confirm the experience of their surgeon to determine if he or she has specialized training in cornea surgery. Because LASIK is performed on the cornea, the surgeon’s knowledge of the healing properties of the cornea and management of any complications are critical to the patient’s well being. The surgeon’s knowing how to handle a complication, should one occur, can make a significant difference in the patient’s outcome.
What is the success rate?
Success depends on several factors, the most important being the degree of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Prior to surgery your surgeon will be able to tell you your likely vision following the procedure. Approximately 95 percent of eyes treated with LASIK reach 20/40 or better vision with one procedure, which is the requirement for driving legally without having to wear any corrective lenses. If a patient does not achieve their desired goal, enhancements can be performed to help furthe improve vision.
I have dry eyes. Can LASIK help?
Many patients who desire LASIK surgery have dry eyes. They have become intolerant of their contact lenses because the dryness makes them uncomfortable. LASIK occasionally worsens dry eyes, but typically, this is temporary and usually can be treated with frequent artificial tear lubrication. In special cases of severe dry eye, special punctal plugs that are placed in the lower eyelid tear ducts can cause significant improvement in dryness. These are easily removed in the office once the dryness resolves, or they can be left in place permanently.
What if I have more questions about LASIK or LASIK surgery?
The staff at all North Suburban Eye Associates locations including Wakefield, Winchester and Beverly are knowledgable and willing to answer any questions you may have about LASIK. Contact us during business hours for answers or to set up a consultation.