LasikAnswers to your questions about LASIK surgery
What can LASIK correct?
Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) is a surgical procedure that actually changes the shape of your cornea to correct refractive errors. Refractive errors occur when the cornea is not perfectly shaped, so light does not properly focus on the retina (the back of the eye). If you have a refractive error, you may have one or a combination of these vision conditions:
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
- Hyperopia (farsightedness)
- Astigmatism (blurry vision at all distances)
With LASIK, your eyes’ focusing power is restored, often eliminating the need for glasses and contacts.
Am I a good candidate for LASIK?
To qualify for LASIK, there are 3 criteria you have to meet from the start:
- You are at least 21 years old
- Your vision prescription hasn’t changed for the last year
- You are in good health with no eye disease
If all 3 of these apply to you, schedule an appt for a LASIK Consultation so we can do an eye exam to confirm your eligibility while we answer all of your LASIK questions.
What can I expect during a LASIK consultation?
During your 60-90 minute meeting, we will conduct an eye exam and spend time answering your questions.
The exam will include:
- Corneal topography and refraction
- Corneal thickness measurement
- Medical history overview
- Identification of eye conditions or diseases
Our patients usually ask us questions about:
- How much LASIK costs
- What level of LASIK experience our doctors have
- How our LASIK technologies work
- Potential risks of LASIK
- How the procedure is done
- How long the recovery will be
You will only be given the “green light” for LASIK if we strongly believe that you have the right vision and medical conditions for success. The decision to proceed with LASIK is up to you.
What will the day of surgery be like for my LASIK procedure?
Your LASIK eye surgery is a very quick procedure with minimal to no discomfort. It takes about 15 minutes to complete both eyes and you will be awake during the procedure.
- You’ll arrive at our office (with a driver) at least 10-15 minutes before your appointment time. We will review paperwork and post-operative instructions, as well as verify that you have the necessary post-operative medications.
- In preparation for your surgery, we will administer optional pre-operative medication, such as Valium, giving you time to relax in the waiting area. Next, we will place anesthetic drops in your eye or eyes. Then we will clean the area around the operative eye to ensure sterility. We’ll also place a sticky dot above the eye or eyes being treated, which we’ll use for reference during the procedure.
- When it’s time for the procedure to begin, you will enter the laser room and lie down on a comfortable reclining chair. The non-operative eye is covered to help you keep it still during the procedure. We will use a small device to keep your eyelids open, which helps you to avoid blinking during the procedure.
- Next, a stabilization ring is placed on the eye to immobilize it while the flap is created, after which your doctor will gently lift and fold back the flap. There may be times during the procedure when your vision may temporarily go dark, or blurry or clear. This is quite normal, and we will make sure you feel informed about changes in your vision every step of the way.
- The laser will be aligned with your eye and we will continue to explain what will happen during the procedure. You will be asked to fixate your vision on the blinking light.
- The laser will start and you will hear a clicking sound, which is the sound of the laser running. Generally we are done within 15 seconds! Once the laser procedure is complete, the flap will be gently laid back down, and the surface smoothed, allowing the flap to quickly reattach to the cornea, without the need for stitches or glue.
- You can now sit up. You’ll be examined by an instrument called the slit lamp so that your doctor can look at the eye. We’ll add eye drops to your eyes and ask you to wear protection.
- You’re ready to head home, with your driver at the wheel. It’s best to rest and keep your eyes closed as much as possible for the first 12 hours, being careful not to rub or touch your eyes for 24 hours.
- The next day, you’ll have a follow-up appointment, as well as additional required postoperative visits to ensure that the healing process is going well. Within a few days, the cornea will be crystal clear and there will be virtually no trace of the flap. Usually there is no postoperative pain, and vision will start to improve within hours after the procedure.
Will LASIK surgery hurt?
Does LASIK surgery require stitches or shots?
What can I realistically expect after LASIK?
How does laser vision correction affect my eyes in the long term?
What are the risks involved in LASIK surgery?
As with any surgical procedure, there are some risks and potential complications. The risk of a serious vision threatening complication is much less than 1%. Temporary complications you might experience just after LASIK surgery include:
Discomfort – Some people experience discomfort, which is normally described as a slight stinging or burning feeling, the feeling that there is something in the eye, and tearing. If necessary, over-the-counter pain relievers may be taken.
Sensitivity to light – It is important to wear sunglasses whenever outside to help with any sensitivity to light that might affect you for the first few weeks after the procedure.
Under- or over-correction – Unless it’s severe, these situations do not usually affect the overall results. High amounts of under-correction are generally retreated with an enhancement procedure. Low amounts are corrected by wearing glasses for activities such as driving or reading. Over-corrected eyes are rare and most return to the original shape as the eye heals.
Infection – The risk of infection is very low-around 0.2%. The risk is greatest in the first 48 hours following the procedure, and an infection is generally treated with antibiotic drops. It is important that you carefully follow all post-operative instructions and see us for all post-operative visits.
Halos or glare – If you currently have problems driving at night or have halos and glare, it may be related to the size of your pupil. LASIK surgery may decrease or increase these symptoms. Most surgery-related halos and glare diminish with healing, but some patients continue to have symptoms.
Can I do both eyes at once?
Does LASIK lead to unrelated problems in the future?
Can I afford LASIK?
We do everything we can to make LASIK affordable. We offer:
- Affordable payment options with no initial payment and 0% interest
- No prepayment penalty
- Financing through Care Credit with low, fixed rates
Our patients find that the investment of LASIK makes a lot of sense when they do the math on how much they are spending buying glasses or contacts annually.
What if I am not a LASIK Candidate?
During your LASIK Consultation , we may identify certain vision or medical conditions that might make LASIK too risky for you. Conditions like age, overall health, eye health and corneal thickness are all taken into account to ensure that you are a good candidate for LASIK.
If you aren’t a good candidate for LASIK, the surgeons at the Eye Care Center of Northern Colorado offer LASIK alternatives, including:
PRK/ASA – If your cornea is too thin for LASIK, PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) or ASA (Advanced Surface Ablation) may be more suitable. During these procedures, no corneal flap is created. Instead, a small area on the corneal surface cells is gently polished away to give access to the layer below so the corneal reshaping can be performed.The visual outcomes are comparable to LASIK; however the recovery times are longer and the healing process may be slightly more uncomfortable.
Refractive Lens Exchange – This is a non-laser corrective procedure where the eye lens is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). This is a permanent and maintenance-free option with a quick recovery time. This option can provide both near and far vision while also preventing cataracts from forming in future years.
Implantable Contact Lens (Phakic Intraocular Lens) – In this procedure, a permanent intraocular lens is implanted in front of the eye’s natural lens, leaving the eye’s natural lens in place. This technique is good for people with very strong prescriptions or those with thin corneas. At the Eye Care Center of Northern Colorado, we use the Visian ICL implantable collamer lens to correct myopia with great success.