LASIK eye surgery performed in Boston, and across the world, has frequently asked questions. 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 office for more information.
About Laser Eye Surgery and Lasik
What is refractive surgery?
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.
Who is a candidate?
Refractive surgery is for patients 21 years of age or older who have nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) or astigmatism, who meet visual and medical requirements, has a healthy cornea and has not had a significant increase in his/her prescription in the last year. 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.
What is the excimer laser?
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 the excimer laser to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness 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 considered to be one of the safest and most accurate methods of correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.
Why do patients choose excimer laser surgery?
Patients with nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism want to be free from the limitations of corrective lenses and would like to enjoy swimming, diving, skiing and other athletic activities without wearing glasses or contacts which can be inconvenient or impossible. Patients elect to have laser surgery for occupational reasons, while others feel visually and socially limited in their every day activities.
Are there different types of refractive surgery procedures?
Patients have various options for refractive surgery. The two most popular options are PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) and LASIK (Laser-in-situ Keratomileusis).
What is the difference between PRK and Lasik?
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 brush or laser prior to the reshaping 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. The LASIK procedure offers next day visual recovery, minimal discomfort that may last up to two hours. Often 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 placed back and the procedure is completed.
Why choose LASIK?
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:
- brief recovery time
- minimal postoperative discomfort
- high degree of predictability
- preservation of corneal surface
- very low risk of scarring
- low risk of complications
- freedom or reduced dependence on glasses/contact lenses
Can there be a problem with my eyes twenty years from now because I had LASIK?
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.
How long does the LASIK procedure take?
The procedure takes roughly 15 minutes and is performed on an outpatient basis.
I have “dry eyes”. Will this affect my LASIK surgery?
Many patients seeking refractive surgery do so because they have dry eyes and are unable to wear contact lenses comfortably. It is necessary that your dry eyes be treated prior to any eye surgeries. This involves the use of tear supplements and punctum plugs (tiny silicone plugs placed in the tear ducts) that delay the drainage of your own tears keeping your eyes moist.
After the procedure, your operated eye may feel temporarily drier, causing the eye to make fewer tears. This condition is temporary and typically lasts three to six months.
Dry eye symptoms can be more noticeable if you use the computer frequently, read for extended periods of time, or drive lengthy distances. These types of activities exacerbate dry eyes because they cause you to not blink as often. It is important to use ample lubrication, especially during the first few months after surgery.
If I need to, can I wear contact lenses after surgery?
If you have a residual refractive error and you choose not to have an enhancement procedure, you may elect to wear contact lenses. There will be a timeframe when you will need to stay out of your contact lenses. Dr. Kornmehl will inform you when it is safe to wear them again. If you were a good contact lens wearer before LASIK, it is unlikely you will have problems afterward.
Does the procedure hurt?
Anesthetic drops allow the procedure to be painless, however, a pressure sensation is noted. Immediately following the procedure, most patients have tearing and a burning sensation. Most patients feel much better after napping.
Technology seems to be changing every day, is something better coming down the road?
Technology continues to change and move forward. Newer technology makes surgical techniques available to a greater number of surgeons.
How do I obtain more information?
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 for an appointment and personal consultation. This information will help you determine your best options for vision correction.