Answers to 14 Frequently Asked Questions on LASIK
1. Have many people had LASIK surgery?
More than 16,000,000 Americans have had the LASIK procedure (through 2011) and the number continues to increase substantially every year.
2. What are the risks of Lasik?
As with any procedure there are small risks. Although, LASIK complications are very rare. In fact, experienced LASIK surgeons report a less than 1% complication rate. An experienced LASIK surgeon would pre-screen patients by using only FDA approved equipment for pre-testing to ensure that LASIK is the right choice. Many ophthalmologists believe the long-term risk of wearing contact lenses can exceed the one-time risk of having LASIK by a factor as high as 5X.
3. Is LASIK safer than contacts?
More than 30 million Americans use contact lenses. In addition to offering flexibility, convenience, and a “no-glasses” appearance, “contacts” help correct a variety of vision disorders, including astigmatism, presbyopia, farsightedness, and nearsightedness. Contact lenses do present potential risks. In recent studies, which included an advisory member from the FDA, suggests that prolonged use of contacts can represent a risk to eye health. In the past six years the FDA has posted an increasing number of advisories concerning risks associated with contact lenses. Concerns range from corneal ulcers and eye infections that usually develop quickly and can in some rare cases, lead to blindness. Daily contact lens wearers have a one in 100 chance of developing serious lens-related eye infection over 30 years of use.
4. Can I really get rid of my glasses?
Most people over age 18 who suffer from farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism can be helped. If you are at least 40 years of age, have presbyopia and/or wear reading glasses, or have bifocals, you may still need to wear reading glasses following LASIK surgery. A thorough eye exam is the best way to determine if LASIK can achieve your expectations. The exam would include a full corneal mapping (topography), corneal thickness measurement, and your pupil size measurement to ensure that LASIK is right for you.
Your doctor would discuss your goals and expectations, as well as the risks and benefits of the procedure.
5. Am I a good candidate for LASIK?
All reputable experienced LASIK surgeons screen their patients very carefully. Mainly because not everybody is a good candidate for LASIK and surgery performed on a poor candidate is far more likely to have complications. By using proper FDA approved pre-operative technology for pre-screening candidates for the procedure, a LASIK surgeon dramatically lowers any risk of complication. Though most people are good candidates, there are some conditions which would preclude one from being able to have LASIK. If you have a pre-existing eye disease that affects vision – such as advanced glaucoma, cataracts, corneal diseases, or corneal thinning disorders – you would not be a good candidate. There are also temporary conditions that would prevent you from having LASIK, such as vision instability or pregnancy.
6. Will it hurt? When can I return to work?
LASIK is virtually painless. The LASIK surgery itself is very brief, only a few minutes for each eye. The next day you will be astonished at how clearly you can see. Most people are able to return to work within 24-48 hours following their LASIK procedure.
7. What is PRK?
Procedures such as “epi-LASIK” and “LASEK” are forms of PRK: a type of vision correction where the laser treatment is done on top of the eye, instead of under the protective flap used in LASIK. PRK is necessary for certain eye conditions where the cornea is too thin to create a protective flap. The PRK procedure is less comfortable than LASIK. Although the outcome of PRK is the same, it can take longer to achieve the level of vision that LASIK can deliver.
8. Is all laser vision correction the same?
Many people are under the impression that LASIK could be purchased. Although, it is the surgeon’s experience, laser technology, diagnostic technology and follow-up care which are vital when undergoing laser vision correction. Laser vision correction will affect the way you see for the rest of your life. You should make your decision to have laser vision carefully by choosing an experienced surgeon and a center that has stood the test of time.
9. What about nighttime side-effects?
Nighttime side-effects can include halos, starbursts, glare around lights, and blurry vision. These side-effects are mostly reported in the early days of LASIK, and while some night-vision effects can occur today these usually diminish in the first few months as the eye heals. In extreme cases additional touch-up (enhancement) procedures would be recommended.
With the advent of advanced FDA technology, treatment zones have been expanded, reporting fewer nighttime vision side-effects. In fact, in FDA clinical trials, studies showed that four times as many people were very satisfied with their nighttime vision as they were with their glasses or contacts. In other words, the chances of long-term night vision problems were greatly reduced due to laser vision correction.
10. Can I afford LASIK?
Although LASIK is a significant investment compared to a lifetime of purchasing glasses and/or contact lenses. An exact quotation is only possible after an examination and consultation. There are different FDA approved technologies available to meet each individuals needs.
11. How do I choose a LASIK surgeon?
Having LASIK is a lifetime decision. Here are some key points to consider:
- Look for a surgeon who utilizes the latest most advanced FDA approved technologies, who offer both Blade Free Intralase, as well as Custom LASIK.
- Find out whether the surgeon you are considering is a LASIK specialist (having done over 40,000 procedures) or mainly treats eye disease.
- Be satisfied that you have asked all the questions necessary to make an informed decision.
12. Why won’t insurance cover LASIK?
LASIK is considered cosmetic and insurance companies are looking to decrease their coverage, not increase it. If insurances provided a LASIK benefit they’ll be opening the floodgates that could potentially put them out of business. Unfortunately, we do not see LASIK coverage happening any time soon.
13. Do you have financing?
Yes, we offer a variety of 24 and 36 month interest free financing, as well as, extended payment plans. Once you come in for your complementary consultation the office manager will go over the various financing plans with you.
14. Should I wait to have LASIK?
The truth is that all major improvements to LASIK have been made. The Allegretto Wave laser is the newest generation-in fact, a fourth generation-laser. LASIK technology is truly as good as it is going to get, so while it was wise with certain prescriptions to wait, there is nothing more to wait for. And the average price for LASIK has actually been climbing the last few years so there is no better time than now to get LASIK.