6 Things You Should Know Before Having LASIK
1. Who should have LASIK?
People who want to be less dependent on their glasses or contact lenses should consider LASIK. Patients who are nearsighted and/or have astigmatism have the best results. LASIK is the most common vision correction procedure in the United States because the procedure is safe and predictable, and because patients appreciate the speedy recovery. However, LASIK is not recommended for every spectacle-wearing patient. Surgeons may advise patients against LASIK surgery for a variety of reasons, with the overall health and long-term integrity of each eye as the main goal.
Before having LASIK you should have a complete eye evaluation by an ophthalmologist who uses an Orbscan, which is an advanced optical mapping system, or a comprehensive eye scanner like Pentacam. Other vision-correction procedures may be the answer for people who cannot have LASIK. Some people will get a better result from another procedure, such as PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), Visian ICL (implantable contact lenses) or multifocal IOLs (intraocular lenses).
2. What laser is used for LASIK?
There are a variety of lasers used today in medicine. Two separate lasers are used when a surgeon performs LASIK. The first laser is a femtosecond (FS) laser, which creates a thin corneal flap. The faster (60 kHz speed) FS lasers produce a smoother flap, resulting in a better quality of vision for patients.
Once the flap is created and lifted to the side, an excimer laser reshapes the cornea. The Small Spot lasers are known for being superior to the traditional broad-beam laser because they apply smooth scanning technology to reduce halos or glare after surgery.
“Laser radar” is extremely important with excimer lasers. The radar is an active tracking system that can follow involuntary eye movement during surgery. The eye tracking radar locks onto a specific point on each eye and allows the small spot laser beam to apply the precise amount of treatment to the exact area of the cornea. The excimer laser also reshapes the cornea for wavefront LASIK or PRK. Be sure to ask the surgery center you visit if it has the most up-to-date laser.
3. Is your surgeon board certified?
Not every doctor is board certified. A board-certified doctor has not only completed medical school and a residency program, but has also passed a national examination in the specific field of medicine in which he or she will practice. You can find out if your eye doctor is board certified in ophthalmology by visiting the American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Go to www.aao.org and enter the ZIP code (it can be yours or the doctor’s), click on “View Details” next to the doctor you want to check out, and if the Dr. is certified the “Board Certification Date” is listed at the bottom of the details.
Not only should you meet your surgeon before surgery, you should expect to see him or her for some of your postoperative appointments. The standards of “quality care” should include seeing your doctor more than just the day of surgery.
4. How much does LASIK cost?
Premier Eye Care Group has contracted with several vision insurance plans to give a discount LASIK price to its patients. Every patient should speak with our surgical counselors to learn his or her exact price. Once we quote you a price, it is good for one year. Our quoted price includes your consultation with the surgical counselor, the evaluation with the doctor, all preoperative testing, the surgery and all postoperative appointments for one year.
Many patients pay for LASIK with cash or a credit card, but financing is available with Care Credit and Members 1st Credit Union. For a low monthly payment we offer an 18-, 36- or 48-month payment plan. Our most popular financing plan is the 18-months, no-interest option.
Premier Eye Care Group offers a public service discount.
Premier Eye Care Group offers a 20% discount to all firefighters, police officers, teachers and military personne who receive LASIK by one of our physicians.
5. How long do I need to be out of my contacts?
Wearing a contact lens affects the shape of your eye. Every contact lens patient desiring LASIK must endure a period of time without contacts in order for their eyes to achieve their natural shape. You must be sure your eyes have completely unmolded from your contacts for your surgery to be successful. The period of time you must be out of your contacts depends on what type of contacts you wear and how long you have worn them. The minimum time to unmold from contact lens wear is as follows:
Soft, spherical contacts; 2 weeks
Soft, non-toxic contacts; 3 weeks
Rigid gas permeable contacts; 1-6 months (a good benchmark is one month for every decade of wearing RGP lenses)
6. What if I wear bifocals?
LASIK for a 20-year-old is different than for someone over 45. LASIK involves reshaping the cornea but does not alter the lens inside the eye. Presbyopia refers to the aging of the lens inside the eye, which loses its flexibility and limits the ability to easily change focus from far to near. Most patients notice presbyopia during their 40s and usually wear reading glasses for near vision.
Monovision may be an option for some presbyopic patients. Monovision is the ability for the dominant eye to focus clearly on items far away and the other eye to focus up close. Doctors can use contact lenses or refractive surgery to treat a patient and create monovision. You should try monovision with contact lenses before you attempt monovision through LASIK.
If monovision is frustrating to a patient because of a significant difference between the two eyes, he or she patient may want to try modified-monovision, also called “blended vision.” Modified-monovision is when a patient’s dominant eye is corrected for distance and the other eye is slightly under-corrected. The difference in correction between the two eyes is usually not as noticeable to patients during their daily activities. However, slightly under-corrected vision allows patients to see things that are near or at an intermediate distance more clearly.