What is laser vision correction surgery?
Laser vision correction is a type of refractive surgery using an excimer laser to reshape the eye’s surface or the cornea. The goal is to reduce or eliminate your dependence on glasses and contacts. Laser assisted intrastromal keratomileusis (LASIK) and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) are the most commonly performed surgeries.
How is a LASIK flap created?
In LASIK, a thin flap of the surface of your eye is created and then gently lifted, so that an excimer laser can reshape the surface. The flap is the repositioned to allow for a rapid recovery.
Traditional LASIK creates a flap with a microkeratome. Although this method is still commonly used worldwide, the mechanical microkeratome blade can have sight threatening flap creation complications. Although rare, these may include an incomplete flap, a free cap, or buttonholes.
The newest technology, IntraLase or iLASIK, uses a safer, femtosecond laser to create a computer-controlled, reproducible, and precise flap. This makes your LASIK procedure a truly blade-free, all-laser procedure, enhancing your safety and outcomes.
What type of technology for LASIK and PRK is used at the Everett Clinic?
We utilize the most advanced excimer laser technology, equipped with sophisticated eye tracking, iris registration systems and wavefront guided treatments. This ensures a precise laser treatment even with normal, small eye movements that occur during the short procedure.
If you are a LASIK candidate, we only use a blade-free femtosecond laser or the IntraLase, for LASIK flap creation. We do not offer the older technology of a microkeratome for flap creation.
What are the requirements for having surgery?
In general, patients need to be at least 21 years old to have surgery. Stable glasses or contact lens prescription and having no active eye or general diseases are also required. Certain conditions, such as autoimmune diseases (e.g. lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), immunodeficiency states (e.g. HIV) and uncontrolled diabetes, and some medications (e.g. retinoic acid) may prevent proper healing after a refractive procedure.
Is the surgery painful?
Your eye is anesthetized with eye drops prior to and during the procedure. Most patients may feel pressure during LASIK flap creation, but the excimer laser portion is painless. After surgery, most patients experience moderate to no discomfort. Some may experience light sensitivity for a few days following the procedure
What can I expect after the procedure?
On the day of the surgery, you will need to have someone drive you home. You will be given prescription eye drops to help with your healing and prevent infection. We recommend you take a nap after surgery to rest your eyes, which promotes comfort and healing.
Most LASIK patients can go to work the following day after surgery. Routine LASIK follow-up visits will be scheduled at one day, one week, one month and as needed for one year. These post-operative examinations are all included in the cost of surgery.
Will my vision change after the procedure?
Minor changes or fluctuations after surgery may occur over time and will vary from patient to patient. Vision changes due to the natural aging process of the eye are not prevented by refractive surgery. These changes include presbyopia and cataract formation.
Presbyopia is the loss of flexibility and focusing power of the lens and affects near vision. It usually develops between the ages of 40 and 50 and requires the use of reading glasses.
Cataracts is a natural aging process where the eye’s lens becomes cloudy. Cataracts usually develop around 60 years of age, but may occur earlier. As one ages, a cataract lens surgery may be needed in all patients regardless if they have had refractive surgery. Fortunately, this common medical condition is covered by most medical insurance once it becomes visually significant.
Are both eyes operated on at the same surgery?
Most patients have LASIK or PRK surgery on both eyes on the same day.
Are there any restrictions in activities following refractive surgery?
Once your doctor feels your eye has healed there are generally no limitations. You can safely snowboard, scuba dive and return to an active lifestyles. As always, it is recommended that you wear proper eye protection during any activity which can cause injury to the eye.
What is the effect of pregnancy and refractive surgery?
Vision may fluctuate during pregnancy and while nursing. Therefore, it is recommended to postpone refractive surgery until normal menstrual cycles resume and your vision stabilizes. There is no contraindication to becoming pregnant after refractive surgery.
What are other types of refractive surgeries available?
LASIK and PRK are the most popular refractive surgery performed worldwide. Some patients may not be candidates for these procedures. Your doctor will discuss other options, which include implantable contact lenses or a refractive lens exchange.
Do insurance companies pay for refractive surgery?
LASIK and PRK are elective surgeries which most insurance companies or vision benefit plans do not cover. However, most flex spending or health care reimbursement programs cover vision correction surgery, meaning you can use your tax-free dollars to pay for them. Be sure to call your individual benefit carrier to determine your eligibility.