What is LASIK?
LASIK or laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis is a surgery used to correct astigmatism, hyperopia, and myopia. Common eye disorders prevent people from being able to see without the help of glasses or contacts, and LASIK can be a way to give patients their sight back.
LASIK is performed by Dr. Smith and involves the reshaping of the eye’s cornea by using a laser or microkeratome. This procedure improves visual acuity, and gives many patients a life without the annoyance of glasses or contact lenses.
Although LASIK is not for everyone, many advances have been made in the field in recent years, allowing more and more patients to see clearly because of LASIK.
How long does it take?
The procedure only takes about 20 minutes for both eyes. However, you should plan to spend approximately 2-3 hours with us on surgery day.
How will I keep my eyes open and from moving during surgery?
Dr. Smith will use an eyelid holder to keep you from blinking during the procedure. The VISX Star 4 IR is equipped with “eye-tracking” technology, as well as video assisted monitoring. The laser automatically stops if you look too far to the right or to the left, so you can’t “mess it up” by looking away.
Is LASIK painful?
We take every precaution to help you feel as comfortable as possible. Anesthetic eye drops prevent you from feeling any sharp pain. You will feel a pressure sensation against your eyelids throughout the surgery and pressure on the eye itself while the flap is being created. Many patients tell us that having LASIK is easier than going to the dentist!
Will I be able to see right after surgery?
Many people notice some improvement immediately after surgery. However, you should expect blurry vision for several hours after surgery, and fluctuation of your vision during the healing process. We recommend that you sleep for several hours immediately after the procedure to promote healing.
How soon can I drive?
A driver is necessary for the first 24 hours after surgery due to blurry vision and the mild sedative given prior to the procedure. At your first postoperative appointment the day after surgery, your vision will be measured.
Are medications needed after surgery?
Prescription eye drops are necessary after surgery to minimize the risk of infection and inflammation, as well as to lubricate the eyes.
Are there any side effects after surgery?
Common side effects include:
- A foreign sensation in your eye for the first 24 hours (scratchy, gritty)
- Fluctuating vision
- Light sensitivity
- Halo effects
- Dry eye
These are all common initially but with modern LASIK they decrease significantly over the first few months. By 6 months after surgery, most people are back to their baseline. It is important to keep all post-operative appointments to ensure the highest chance of your satisfaction.
How long will I be off work?
Often many people can return to work the next day, however 1-2 days is recommended.
Is there anything else I shouldn’t do after surgery?
Most activities, such as running and lifting weights, can be done the day after surgery. You can also shower starting the day after surgery. Contact sports require the use of protective eyewear for the first three months. You must wait two weeks before swimming or using hot tubs.
Is LASIK permanent?
Yes, it is a permanent change to your vision.
Will I have to wear glasses after surgery?
A realistic goal is to lessen your dependency on your glasses.
Will I still need reading glasses after surgery?
If you have LASIK performed before age 40, you will still eventually need reading glasses when your natural lens loses its flexibility (called “presbyopia”). LASIK doesn’t speed this process up, but it also doesn’t slow that process down. If you have LASIK performed after age 40, you will still need reading glasses after surgery unless you and Dr. Smith decide that you are a good candidate for monovision.
How long does LASIK last?
Dr. Smith will discuss this with you based on your age and the type of LASIK that will be performed. Myopic LASIK (for nearsighted patients) is very stable over time unless you develop another eye condition such as chronic dry eye or cataract, which can change your prescription. Hyperopic LASIK (for farsighted patients) often regresses over time and more commonly requires multiple treatments.
Can people have LASIK at any age?
The procedure is FDA approved for patients 18 years of age and older, who have had stable glasses or contact lens prescriptions over the previous year.
Is LASIK safe?
LASIK has been approved for military pilots and astronauts. Many advances in technology such as bladeless all-laser LASIK, Wavefront-Guided Treatments, and Iris Recognition have drastically reduced many of the side effects and complications of the past. In fact, LASIK has been shown to be safer for many people than wearing contacts due to the decreased risk of corneal infection and abrasion.
What about LASIK retreatments?
There are many percentages quoted about the chance of needing a retreatment.
Who’s to say it will work a second time?
First, we are committed to using the latest technology available to customize our treatment to your eyes. This allows us to achieve the highest initial success rate possible. However, the ability to perform retreatments is crucial to offering high quality LASIK and to making patients satisfied with their vision. With LASIK, most cases of “fine tuning” are because the surface skin cells on the cornea steepen as a reaction to the first laser reshaping. Lifting a flap to “fine-tune” the visual outcome is like a two putt on the green for a professional golfer – if they get close to the hole with their first putt, there is an extremely high probability that they will sink the putt with the second swing.
Are you using the latest technology?
North Idaho Eye Institute has always been committed to providing an exceptional experience for you and your family. We are the first ophthalmology clinic in all of Idaho, and in the greater Spokane area, to use the iDesign system to acquire a wavefrontguided treatment plan that is customized to your eye. Our VisX Star 4 IR excimer laser has Iris Recognition software to correctly identify your eye and pause the laser procedure if your eye is not lined up properly. The iFS Intralase system is currently the fastest and most efficient laser to create the LASIK flap.
Why is the dilated exam necessary?
The cycloplegic dilated exam allows the doctor to look deep inside your eye, and is also necessary to obtain your true prescription. This prevents an overcorrection with the laser. This dilation is different than other dilations you’ve likely had in the past, as
the effects of the drops last up to 48 hours. Most nearsighted patients are able to drive home or go to work after the dilated exam. However, farsighted patients will most likely need someone to drive them home. If you are concerned about driving after the dilation, it’s best to bring someone with you who can drive you home. We will also provide you with a pair of disposable sunglasses to cut down on glare.
Even though my regular eye doctor doesn’t offer LASIK, can he or she still be involved?
Definitely. Your regular doctor can be involved in determining your candidacy for LASIK and monitoring your post-operative progress. We can arrange this at your consultation.