Answers To Help You Make an Informed Decision About LASIK

1. Why do people have LASIK surgery?

Girls DressesThere are two main reasons people choose to have LASIK:

  • Quality of Lifestyle: No longer having to deal with the hassles of glasses or contact lenses, such as the ability to engage in sports activities like swimming, skiing, snorkeling, surfing, and the increased confidence from a lens-free appearance.
  • Quality of Vision: LASIK often provides better vision than was ever experienced with contacts and glasses, better peripheral vision, improved ‘close-to-natural vision’ regardless of the situation, and no fogging, smearing or blurring.

2. How does laser vision correction affect the eye long term?

In numerous clinical studies throughout the world since the late 1980s, excimer laser procedures have not produced any long-term negative effects on the eye’s integrity. Experts are confident that they will not discover any long-term problems, but significant data is not available yet for long-term results. Since the excimer evaporates only a very small amount of the tissue of the cornea, the integrity of the eye remains intact and no stability problems for the future are expected. The procedure is considered permanent, although in some cases the procedure must be repeated to enhance the final outcome.

3. What are the risks?

There are some risks in everything in life - from driving a car to taking a shower. LASIK is regarded as one of the safest of all medical procedures. More than 12,000,000 Americans have already had LASIK, and the number is steadily increasing. Experienced LASIK surgeons report a lower than 1% complication rate, and these complications have always been confined to quality of vision issues, not loss of vision. Many ophthalmologists believe the long-term risk of wearing contact lenses can exceed the one-time risk of LASIK by a factor as high as five times.* The surest guarantee of the best outcome possible is choosing an experienced surgeon.

Sources: Mathers, W.D. Archives of Ophthalmology, October 2006; vol 124: pp 1510-1511. William Mathers, MD, Professor of Ophthalmology, Oregon Health & Science University Casey Eye Institute, Portland, OR.

4. Can I really get rid of my glasses?

By choosing LASIK with the right doctor with the most advanced technology, the typical person, ages 18 to 40, will not need prescription glasses. Between ages 40 and 50, a person will likely begin needing reading glasses whether they have had LASIK or not, due to the reduced flexibility of their eyes’ internal lenses. This condition is called presbyopia and can be effectively handled through a special LASIK technique known as monovision, which has given thousands the ability to see both close-up and far away.

If you are considering LASIK and are using reading glasses, you should ask your LASIK surgeon if monovision is right for you.

5. Will LASIK work for me?

Most people over age 18 who suffer from nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism can be helped with LASIK, but a thorough eye exam is the only way to determine if LASIK can achieve your expectations. The exam should include full corneal mapping (topography), Wavefront diagnostic technology, corneal thickness measurement, tear film evaluation and measurement of your pupil size to ensure that LASIK is right for you.

Your doctor should discuss your goals and expectations as well as the risks and benefits of the procedure. You should feel comfortable with your doctor’s assessment of your anticipated outcome before proceeding.

6. Isn't all laser vision correction the same?

No. Procedures such as PRK and LASIK are forms of laser vision correction because they all utilize a laser to reshape the cornea. The primary difference is in how the cornea's surface is prepared for the reshaping procedure. LASIK is the fastest and most comfortable of these procedures when performed by highly skilled surgeons using the most advanced equipment.

Many discount centers want you to believe that all LASIK is the same and that the surgeon's involvement throughout the process, the laser technology, diagnostic technology, and follow-up care don't matter. Laser vision correction will affect the way you see for the rest of your life. You should make your decision to have laser vision correction carefully, based on the surgeon's track record and technology – not who's offering the best"deal."

7. What about nighttime side-effects?

You may have heard stories in the past about people having difficulty driving at night after refractive surgery. In the early years of laser vision correction, nighttime side-effects sometimes included halos, starbursts, glare around lights and sometimes blurry vision. What you may not have heard was that these effects usually diminished in the first three months as the eye healed.

However, today’s advanced laser systems have dealt very authoritatively with these issues, as they can be programmed to cater to the specific characteristics of each patient's eyes.

8. What if I blink or move during the procedure?

Sometimes patients worry that they will affect the surgery by nervous or uncontrollable twitches or jumps of their eyes, called saccadic eye movements. The lasers used by Thomas Eye Group in LASIK are married to a 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 quality treatment and increased patient safety.

9. Can I do both eyes at once?

The decision to have one eye done or both eyes done consecutively is a decision for the doctor and the patient. Initially, it was felt that time should be allowed between eyes. However, the standard of care in the United States, particularly with LASIK, has evolved to be either both eyes are done on the same day or one eye at a time – whatever the doctor and patient decide. How do I compensate for the other eye’s correction in between surgeries? This is only a problem if you have your eyes done on separate days. If you wear contacts, you can continue wearing the contact in the untreated eye until your doctor instructs you to discontinue its use to prepare for surgery on the second eye. If you wear glasses, you can have one lens without any correction put into them until you have the second eye corrected.

10. Do I have to do anything special before or after the procedure?

A comprehensive eye evaluation is required prior to the procedure. Your doctor will explain all of the procedures to you before and after the procedure. If you wear contacts, you will have to remove them prior to your pre-operative evaluation (3-6 weeks for hard or gas permeable lenses and 7 days for soft lenses) and the procedure. After the procedure, you will need to have someone drive you home. You will need to see the doctor the next day, and you will need a driver for this office visit as well. You will be required to visit your doctor post-operatively at designated intervals for the first year.

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? With today’s highly advanced technology, LASIK is very 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, 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 financing options at Thomas Eye Group Atlanta, many people find their payments can be equivalent to what they are currently spending on glasses and contacts.

12. How do I choose the best LASIK 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 who will 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. Thomas Eye Group offers LASIK services to patients in Atlanta, Lithonia, Decatur, Lilburn, Newnan, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Suwanee, and Woodstock.

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