When it comes to LASIK, there are numerous questions and concerns that come to mind—and that is a good thing! Your eye care should never be ignored and it’s important to weigh what treatment and procedures are performed on your eyes ahead of time. The good news is, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), “80 percent of vision impairments can be prevented or cured.” This goes for common conditions like astigmatism, nearsightedness or farsightedness. If you have been considering LASIK, we’re here to guide you through the process; from understanding its roots to answering questions and concerns. Read below to learn more about LASIK and how to get started with improved vision—without the dependance of glasses or contacts.
The Journey to Improved Vision
Throughout human history, there has always been a need to see things clearly. The practice of optometry can be traced back further than one would think, to the ruins of Nineveh around 1200 B.C. It is there that some historians claim the first lens was created and consisted of a polished rock crystal that was 3.8 cm in diameter. Later on, the ancient Romans would magnify objects and text by using glass bowls of water.
But the modern understanding of optometry came around 1280 A.D. when the first spectacles were created in Italy. Though the inventor’s name has been lost to history, it is known that a Franciscan monk by the name of Roger Bacon wrote in his book the idea of using glass to magnify small text in 1268. However, he never tested this theory and passed his book on to a glass maker who would most likely manufacture the first, primitive pair.
However, the original design came with its challenges. Often spectacle makers would produce spectacle lenses as a “one size fits all”, which didn’t address any unique, custom problems. They also would use two pieces of either horn, bone, metal or leather and secure it with a rivet. This caused problems with keeping the glasses on an individual’s face. It wasn’t until 1827 that a pair of spectacles was created to specifically treat astigmatisms.
The 19th century laid the groundwork for many of the understandings we have today about ophthalmology and eye health. Though spectacles (and contact lenses) were improving rapidly to better treat custom needs, scientists still looked for a better way to improve vision without the aid of external magnifiers. Yet, it wouldn’t be until the mid 20th century when such technology was possible.
The first surgical method to correct refractive error, or a condition in which the eye does not bend light properly causing blurred vision, was developed in 1948. Keratomileusis, which translates to “sculpting the cornea” was created by Jose I. Barraquer Moner. His first version of the procedure consisted of freezing the anterior corneal tissue followed by removing, or sculpting out the stromal tissue.
However, the modern LASIK procedure we know today wasn’t created until 1988. The laser used for LASIK is called an excimer laser, a type of ultraviolet laser. The excimer laser was discovered in 1900 when scientists, thanks to the help of the quantum theory, found excimer lasers could photoablate or alter tissue without causing any form of laser radiation or thermal damage. Now, eye surgeons can help patients to experience improved vision through the means of LASIK surgery, a safe procedure with lasting results.
Common Questions for Every LASIK Stage
We are here to assure all of our LASIK patients during each stage of the improved vision journey. Therefore, we compiled the most asked LASIK questions from our patients for pre-procedure, procedure and recovery. Of course, if you have any questions at any point, whether listed below or unlisted, we would be happy to answer them. Just give us a call or visit our eye center.
What is LASIK?
LASIK is a laser refractive surgery for your eyes. It is used to treat common refractive problems such as:
- Myopia: This is commonly known as nearsightedness and makes objects far away uneasy to see. This occurs when an individual’s eye grows too long from the front to the back which causes the lens to focus on images close to the retina instead.
- Hyperopia: This is commonly known as farsightedness and makes objects close up uneasy to see. This occurs when an individual’s eye is too short, causing the lens to focus on objects in the distance instead of in front of the retina.
- Astigmatism: This commonly causes blurred vision and occurs when the cornea is irregularly shaped or because of the curved lens in an individual’s’ eyes.
Though glasses or contact lenses are used to treat these conditions, LASIK gives the patients the opportunity to leave their external vision aids behind and experience improved vision.
Is LASIK Right for Me?
If you deal with myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism, LASIK may be a great option for you to consider. Consider setting up a free LASIK consultation with one of our doctors at the eye center. During the appointment, your doctor will conduct a refractive evaluation where they will examine you for certain eye conditions. They also take the following into consideration.
In order to receive LASIK, you must be 21 years or older.
Besides refractive vision conditions, your eyes must be in healthy shape in order to perform surgery. Therefore, patients who have the following conditions may not be eligible:
- Severe dry eyes
Additionally, your eye doctor may deter surgery if you have any condition that may delay or prevent the healing process.
Lastly, any women who are pregnant or nursing should wait before having LASIK as it can have effects on hormone levels.
Along with the guidance of your doctor, it is up to you to decide if LASIK is best. Consider what activities or daily routines may have be impacted by glasses use versus receiving LASIK.
Why Not Keep my Contact Lenses?
For some, contact lenses are a viable option for their daily vision needs, but consider this; contact lenses can cost more in the long run. Contacts cost on average $400 per year, and considering contacts are a lifelong commitment, it means you are stuck with having to shell out hundreds of extra dollars a year. LASIK eye surgery is an upfront cost. So, while it may cost more than a year supply of contacts at first, your wallet will become happier in the long run.
Plus, contacts come with their risks too. Contact wearers can be prone to infection, corneal abrasions and ulcers. Further, more damage can be caused to your eyes if they stay in for too long or you forget to take them out.
What is the Success Rate for LASIK Surgery?
LASIK has an impressive success rate! In fact, over 90% of patients achieve 20/20 uncorrected vision.
What are the Risks?
One of the biggest concerns patients may have have is the chance that LASIK may cause a partial or permanent blindness. However, the risk of any surgical complications are extremely rare. In fact compared to most surgeries, LASIK is a low-risk surgery that has minor side effects. The most common is dry eyes which occurs when there is decreased tear production, which causes blurred vision. Though it’s normal to experience dry eyes for the first six months after laser eye surgery, your doctor will typically prescribe to you medicinal drops during the recovery stage. However if you experience severe dry eyes, you may need an additional procedure.
Additional side effects rarely experienced include glare or halos, under connections, over connections, flap issues or change in vision. However, you can always contact one of our LASIK surgeon to review side effects likelihood of risks. Most of these side effects are temporary and improve as healing progresses.
Is LASIK Expensive?
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons patients avoid LASIK is due to cost. Like stated previously, there are up-front costs to LASIK. However, it will save you more money in the long run than traditionally updating your contact subscription yearly. The average cost for a LASIK procedure is $2,100 per eye. Although price could vary based on eye conditions and needs.
The good news is at Piedmont Eye Center, we do not require you to pay all the cost up-front. We offer affordable plans to all of our patients so that they can make low monthly payments instead of paying all at once. Our LASIK calculator is a great tool to give you an estimate on how much it would cost per month.
Additionally at Piedmont Eye Center, we avoid extra fees that usually come with custom LASIK surgery. For example, it’s common for some surgery centers to require specialized computer equipment fees for a custom treatment. We choose to offer custom treatments without this added fee because we know that every person is different—and that goes for their eyes as well!
One other opportunity you can try is entering our LASIK give-a-way. To enter, simply fill out the form on our website before the registration date and you will be entered for a chance to win a free procedure!
Is There Any Prepping Needed for LASIK?
There’s some minor prep work required before your procedure. First, you cannot wear contacts for three weeks, but will need to wear glasses instead (but don’t worry, it won’t be for long). Second, your eye doctor will need to complete an eye exam to evaluate the condition and health of your eyes. Lastly, you will need to take steroid eye drops between evaluation and the procedure.
Do you Use Blades for the Procedure?
Traditional LASIK once required a micro blade to cut open a tiny flap into the cornea. But at Piedmont we use specialized equipment called the Custom Blade-Free IntraLase Method™ with Iris Registration™. Basically, this is a blade-free procedure that relies on the power of laser technology. This blade-free method is incredibly safe and uses the latest technology and software at all times.
How Long Does the Procedure Last?
Many assume when it comes to surgery that it is an hours-long commitment. But our procedure only takes 10-15 minutes from start to finish. However, you will not be able to drive afterwards, so make sure you make arrangements for a friend or family member to pick you up and drive you home.
Is There Any Pain or Sensations?
The good news is most patients report minimal pain during the procedure. Before surgery, we administer numbing eye drops so that patients do not experience a great amount of pain during the procedure. Although, you may experience mild discomfort afterwards.
How Long Until I Recover?
LASIK surgery has a quick turnaround for recovery compared to most surgical procedures. In fact, some patients report improved vision within a few hours after surgery. Immediately after surgery you will need to wear protective eye shields, such as sunglasses, so that your eyes can remain protected. After a quick 24 hour follow up visit, most patients can be cleared for activities like driving again. From there, it is typically a 3 month recovery process.
How Long do the Results Last?
Although LASIK treatment is permanent, small changes can occur over years as patients age or develop other eye conditions like cataracts or diabetes. Very little change is seen typically in a healthy individual over the many years following the procedure.
What is Follow Up Like?
For your safety, Piedmont requires a few follow ups through the span of your 6-month recovery. There is one 24 hours after surgery to check on progress. Then, there is a follow up 1 week after surgery, followed by a 1-month follow up and then finally a 4-5 months follow up.
Experience Life with Less Dependence on Glasses or Contacts
We love providing LASIK for Lynchburg, VA, residents! Our office staff and doctors are here to answer any questions you may have and are ready to assist you through every step of the process. If you still have questions about LASIK, you can check out our LASIK resource page or contact our office. Don’t hesitate! We would love to help!