Highly skilled LASIK surgeon Ernest Kornmehl, MD, is recognized for his expertise in vision correction surgery, including LASIK, PRK, LASEK and CK Surgery. He performs custom wavefront LASIK at his Boston Area offices in Brookline and Wellesley.

LASIK and Laser Eye Surgery FAQ

LASIK eye surgery performed in Boston, and elsewhere, typically has a number of frequently asked questions associated with it. The page below provides the answers to many of these frequently asked questions by Dr Ernest Kornmehl, a Boston LASIK and refractive surgery specialist. If you do not see the answer to a question you have about LASIK or refractive surgery, please contact our offices for more information.

About Laser Eye Surgery and Lasik

Q: What is refractive surgery?

A: Refractive surgery is an outpatient procedure that corrects vision problems such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism The surgery restores the eye's normal curvature and its ability to bring images into focus.

Q: Who is a candidate?

A: Refractive surgery is typically for patients 21 years of age or older who have nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) or astigmatism, and who meet certain visual and medical requirements. The ideal patient has a healthy cornea and has not had a significant increase in his/her prescription in the last year. In addition, most candidates are individuals who are dissatisfied with their contact lenses or glasses (often due to occupational or lifestyle reasons) and are motivated to make a change.

Q: What is the excimer laser?

A: The excimer laser has provided significant advancement in surgical techniques, particularly in the field of eye care. Unlike traditional lasers,the excimer laser produces a "cool" or non-thermal light beam, minimizing the risk of thermal damage to surrounding tissue. Using an excimer laser to correct nearsightedness and astigmatism can eliminate or reduce a patient's need for corrective lenses. The laser is guided by an advanced computer as it precisely reshapes the cornea, producing a sharper image on the retina. Excimer laser eye surgery is now considered to be one of the safest and most accurate methods of correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

Q: Why do patients choose excimer laser surgery?

A: Many patients with nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism want to be free of the limitations of corrective lenses. Many patients enjoy swimming, diving, skiing and other athletic endeavors where wearing glasses or contacts is inconvenient or impossible. Some patients elect to have laser surgery for occupational reasons, while others feel visually and socially limited in their every day activities.

Q: Are there different types of refractive surgery procedures?

A: Patients have various options for refractive surgery. The two most popular options are PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) and Lasik (Laser-in-situ Keratomileusis).

Q: What is the difference between PRK and Lasik?

A: Both Lasik and PRK use the excimer laser to reshape the cornea and correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. Developed during the 1980's, PRK is used to treat low to moderate amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. In PRK, a thin layer of tissue is removed from the surface of the eye with a blade or laser prior to the shaping the cornea. Patients may experience discomfort for 1-3 days, and full healing and vision correction are achieved in about one to four weeks.

Lasik is the most advanced excimer laser procedure and requires more technical skill and training than PRK. The Lasik method offers next day visual recovery, minimal discomfort that may last up to two hours and a lower risk of scarring than PRK or other surgical options. Sometimes referred to as the "flap and zap" method, Lasik is an extremely effective outpatient procedure suitable for all levels of vision correction. During the surgery, a thin flap is made in the corneal tissue but not completely removed. Once the laser beam has been used to correct ("zap") the contour of the cornea, the flap is folded back in place and the procedure completed.

Q: Why choose Lasik?

A: The number of people considering refractive surgery is at an all time high and Lasik is currently considered to be the procedure of choice.

Specifically, Lasik surgery creates less trauma to the eye than PRK, enabling the cornea to heal more quickly and improving vision more rapidly. Some of the benefits of Lasik are:

  1. brief recovery time
  2. minimal postoperative discomfort
  3. less post-operative medication
  4. high degree of predictability
  5. preservation of corneal surface
  6. very low risk of scarring
  7. low risk of complications
  8. freedom or reduced dependence on glasses/contact lenses

Q: Can there be a problem with my eyes twenty years from now because I had LASIK?

A: This is very unlikely. LASIK is a form of lamellar refractive surgery, and lamellar refractive surgery (myopic keratomileusis) has been performed since 1949. Patients who have undergone these related but less accurate and more invasive procedures fifty years ago have not developed any unusual problems.

Q: How long does the Lasik procedure take?

A: The procedure lasts about 15 minutes and is performed on an outpatient basis.

Q: I have "dry eyes". Will this affect my LASIK surgery?

A: Many patients seeking refractive surgery do so because they have dry eyes and are unable to wear contact lenses anymore. It is important that your dry eyes be treated. This usually involves the use of tear supplements and punctum plugs (tiny silicone plugs placed in the tear drainage openings of your eyelid) that delay the drainage of your own tears so your eyes will stay moist.

After the procedure, your operated eye may feel temporarily drier because the corneal nerves are severed during LASIK surgery, causing the eye to make fewer tears. This condition is temporary and typically lasts three to six months.

Dry eye symptoms can be particularly noticeable if you use the computer frequently, read for long periods of time, or drive extended distances. These types of activities exacerbate dry eyes because they cause you to stare and not blink as often. It is important to use ample lubrication, especially during the first few months after surgery.

Q: If I need to, can I wear contact lenses after surgery?

A: If you have a residual refractive error and you choose not to have an enhancement procedure, you may elect to wear contact lenses. With PRK you may need to wait up to three months; with LASIK you may wear contact lenses within a few weeks. If you were a good contact lens wearer before LASIK, it is unlikely you will have problems afterward.

Q: Does the procedure hurt?

A: Anesthetic drops allow the procedure to be virtually painless, however, a pressure sensation is noted. Immediately following the procedure, some patients have tearing and burning while others have minimal discomfort. Whether or not tearing or burning is present has no bearing on the final result. Everyone feels much better after napping.

Q: Technology seems to be changing every day, is something better coming down the road?

A: Technology continues to change and move forward. Newer technology makes surgical techniques available to a greater number of surgeons. LASIK continues to be a surgeon dependent procedure, and final results are dependent upon the skill of the surgeon.

Q: How do I obtain more information?

A: Finding out more about the health of your eye and your vision correction needs is your first step toward better eyesight. Contact Dr. Kornmehl's office at 1-877-870-2010 for an appointment and personal consultation. If your vision's refractive error falls within the range for laser surgery, more tests can be performed to determine whether you are a candidate. This information will help you determine your best options for vision correction.

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Dr. Kornmehl has surgical privileges at 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115 (617) 232-2090



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