Answers To Other Common Questions
Here are answers to the most common questions about LASIK – but if you have questions not listed here, be sure to raise them when you come for your Free LASIK Consultation.
1. What Are the Risks?
Everything in life from eating an ice-cream cone to driving a car involves some risk, and the same is true of LASIK. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has declared LASIK safe and effective for most people, and of the 12,500,000 Americans who have had LASIK since the 90s, experienced surgeons have reported a less than 3% complication rate. Those complications were mostly related to quality of vision issues such as dry eyes and reduced night vision, not loss of vision, and even these have been significantly reduced by advances in laser technology.
Factually, there is more risk from prolonged use of contacts than something going wrong during the LASIK procedure; however, confirming that you are a good candidate in the first place is the best assurance that you will have a successful outcome.
2. Are Contacts Safer Than LASIK?
Both contacts and LASIK can be a safe alternative to glasses. Some studies have reported increased risk of infection from contacts due to prolonged wear and poor maintenance or forgetting to take them out when you sleep. The main reason contacts cause problems is because of the hassle factor. Forget your cleaning solutions, overlook the need to sterilize them, have them slip while you’re driving, and the risk increases.
LASIK, on the other hand, is a precision, permanent, no-maintenance solution to poor vision due to refractive error, and as Dr. William Mathers at the Oregon Health & Science University has reported, “One shouldn’t just assume that contacts are safer than LASIK. This may have been true at one time, but for the average person this is certainly not the case anymore.”
3. Can I Really Get Rid Of My Glasses?
Getting rid of your glasses depends largely on your age. If you’re 18 to 45 and choose the right doctor using advanced technology you will not need prescription glasses at all.
After 45 a different vision condition comes into play as a natural result of aging. Most of us will likely need reading glasses whether or not we have had LASIK due to the reduced flexibility of our eyes’ lenses, or presbyopia. Even presbyopia can be effectively handled through a special LASIK technique known as monovision that has given thousands the ability to see both close up and far away.
4. Will LASIK Work For Me?
Most people over age 18 suffering from nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism can be helped. Some of our patients can’t believe that they’ll actually achieve 20/20 without lenses – until they open their eyes after the procedure. This is a genuine case of seeing is believing.
Some physical or medical factors such as corneal thickness or particular forms of diabetes may rule someone out as a LASIK candidate. The only way to know for sure if LASIK is the answer to your poor vision is by having a full and comprehensive LASIK examination.
5. Will It Hurt?
LASIK in the hands of an experienced surgeon who is using advanced technology such as all-laser bladeless LASIK is virtually painless. You can expect to feel just the slightest sensation of pressure: inserting or removing contact lenses or just rubbing eyes tired from wearing glasses produce more discomfort than an all-laser LASIK procedure. After a good night’s sleep you can expect to awaken to the joy of seeing the world clearly and without lenses – usually for the first time in many years – and without the discomfort or irritations of lenses.
6. When Can I Return To Work? How Much Work Will I Miss?
Most people are able to return to work within 24-48 hours of their LASIK procedure. Immediately after the procedure you’ll be asked to go home and take a nap so the healing process can get off to a good start. You’ll also be given eye drops that ensure no infection can occur. In the first 24 hours you may experience some fluctuation of vision. All these factors mean it’s best to plan for two days away from the office after the procedure.
The best way to avoid any time off work is to schedule your procedure on a Friday, have the whole weekend to test drive your new vision, and go into work on Monday – lens-free!
7. Is All Bladeless LASIK The Same?
All-laser or blade-free LASIK is the best known and most popular refractive correction procedure and is performed only by an ophthalmologic surgeon. However, in Oklahoma general optometrists are permitted to perform a procedure known as Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) and sometimes refer to this as “bladeless LASIK” – a very misleading statement.
PRK is a less comfortable procedure than LASIK and involves the use of a chemical solvent to remove the protective outer layers of the cornea, rather than using a laser to create a corneal flap. After PRK, the eye can take up to two months to achieve the level of vision that LASIK can deliver in just a day or two. PRK is necessary for some eye conditions where the cornea is too thin to create a protective flap, but on average, only around 5% of patients will require it.
8. What If I Blink Or Move During the Procedure?
This is not an issue. Sometimes patients worry that they will affect the surgery by nervous or uncontrollable twitches or jumps of their eyes, called saccadic eye movements. The ‘flying spot lasers used by Dr. Luke is married to an ultra high speed eye tracking system with a response time of milliseconds – much faster than your eye can move. This eye tracker completely neutralizes these eye movements to assure a quality treatment and increased patient safety.
9. What About Nighttime Side Effects?
Most of us have night vision issues whether we have had LASIK or not. But you may have seen news stories about difficulty driving at night after refractive surgery due to halos, starbursts and glare around lights, particularly if the patient had large pupils. These effects, if they occur at all, usually diminish as the eye heals in the first three months. In extreme cases additional touch-up (enhancement) procedures will be recommended.
However, the advent of BLADE-FREE and WAVELIGHT EX500 lasers has expanded treatment zones. In many cases these new technologies are reported as improving night vision, and many patients who once may not have been candidates for LASIK can now be treated successfully.
10. Does The Type of Technology Matter?
Very much so. Since the first procedures in the 1990s, LASIK technology has advanced in leaps and bounds. For example, the original technique for creating the corneal flap involved a spinning hand-held blade called a microkeratome. This has been surpassed by an advance that employs a precision laser to make the flap, resulting in greater accuracy and more stability. This technique is known as blade-free or all-laser LASIK.
The earliest excimer lasers that correct the corneal irregularities also had limitations that meant some patients could not be considered candidates. Today, lasers like the WAVELIGHT EX500 and Custom Wavefront LASIK have considerably expanded treatment zones and precision of outcome.
To solve this concern you don’t need to know the technical parameters of the various equipment – just ask your doctor if he has updated his equipment in the last two years. Staying up to date with the best technology means a significant financial commitment by the surgeon, and some centers may not have upgraded their lasers. But, when it comes to your eyes, you don’t want anything less than the best possible quality.
11. Should I Wait For The Price To Come Down?
This question is usually prompted by concerns about affordability. Unfortunately, the cost of LASIK has been rising since the 90s and is likely to keep on rising. When you buy a new car is it cheaper than five years ago? How about clothes, restaurants, and cosmetics? Even with today’s highly advanced technology, LASIK is definitely a hands-on, personalized service provided by highly trained and qualified medical professionals using millions of dollars worth of equipment. So, although some centers quote attractively (but unbelievably) low prices, the truth is that as with anything in life, quality and assurance come at a price.
The good news is that the one-time cost of LASIK works out cheaper in the long-run than ongoing expenses of glasses and contacts. With the payment options at ClearSight, many people find their payments can be equivalent to what they are currently spending on glasses and contacts. Plus, we are the only center in Oklahoma City to guarantee that we will return your hard-earned cash if you don’t achieve 20/20 vision.
12. How Do You Choose the Best Doctor?
This is definitely the most important question of all. Although LASIK is marketed as a commodity, it is a medical procedure, and in the final analysis the skill and care of the surgeon are the most significant issues. Look for a local surgeon who will personally oversee every step of the procedure and take the time to answer all your questions. Remember, the only “dumb” question is the one you don’t ask.
Ensure you feel at ease with the surgeon and his staff and that you’re being treated with the respect and care you deserve as an individual.
Finally, find out if your surgeon provides a 20/20 Money Back Guarantee – in writing. Don’t accept excuses or discouragement on this point. LASIK is an extremely precise procedure, and an expert surgeon who is highly skilled with a superb track record knows precisely what results he can achieve for you. There may be no guarantees in medicine, but you can and should expect a written commitment that you will get your full procedure fee back if your results are less than what was agreed upon.