LASIK Correction Procedure
Eye Professionals of Fargo
Dakota Eye Institute partners with the Eye Professionals of Fargo, North Dakota, to bring their customers the best LASIK laser vision correction possible. Dr. Steve Bagan of the Eye Professionals now offers his services and equipment to Dakota Eye Institute and performs LASIK services here in Bismarck, helping hundreds of patients each year reduce or eliminate their need for glasses or contacts. [More Information]
What is LASIK?
LASIK is a surgical procedure that is capable of correcting a wide range of nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism. LASIK has been performed internationally for approximately 10 years, and was first performed in clinical trials in the United States in 1995. It is now the most commonly performed refractive procedure in the United States. Long-term studies indicate that LASIK is safe and effective.
Candidates for LASIK
Candidates for LASIK should have a strong desire to be less dependent on corrective lenses, establish realistic expectations, and understand the risks associated with the surgery. Doctors evaluate many factors before they can determine who is an eligible candidate for LASIK. Doctors may not perform the surgery if they feel pre-existing conditions will hamper the procedure. Like any surgery, there are risks and benefits associate with LASIK.
LASIK improves uncorrected vision in most patients who have the procedure. Over 90 percent of patients with low to moderate myopia will achieve 20/40 vision, which is considered the minimum allowed by most states and provinces to drive without having to wear contacts or glasses. Over half of all patients can expect to achieve 20/20 vision or better. However, there are no guarantees that you will have perfect vision, and patients with high myopia (more than -7D) and high hyperopia (more than +4D) should have a different set of expectations. People who are most satisfied with the results of laser correction possess realistic expectations of what their vision will be like after surgery.
- Patients need to understand that 20/20 vision after LASIK might be different from 20/20 with corrective lenses. Some people describe the images they see post-operatively as not being as "crisp" as those seen through glasses.
- LASIK candidates need to discontinue wearing contact lenses at least three days prior to the surgery.
- Most patients achieve good vision and can return to work the next day, assuming their vision is adequate for their job. However, some people may feel fatigued for a day or so following surgery. Vision can continue to improve, and best vision can still take two to three months to occur. If necessary, adjustments to the surgery called enhancements can be done.
- Most patients who have LASIK do not need to wear glasses for their daily activities. However, patients may need to wear reading glasses if they are over the age of 40.
- Patients who currently have bifocals will still need reading glasses after the surgery unless they opt for a treatment plan called monovision, wherein one eye is corrected for distance and the other for near vision.
- Most patients do not notice a change; however some patients will notice glare, halos or starburst around objects in dim or low-light conditions. For the vast majority, these symptoms are temporary. However, others will continue to experience them for several months or longer.
Costs of LASIK Surgery
The price practices charge will vary, depending upon the conditions specific to the patient and the country. Although LASIK is not a cosmetic procedure, it is considered an elective surgery. Such surgeries are covered in many European and Asian countries. However, most United States, Canadian and Latin American insurance policies will not cover the procedure, nor will Medicare usually cover it. If you reside in the United States, you should check with your insurance company to see if your policy offers partial or full coverage. In many cases, the cost of the procedure can be covered by medical flex plans or medical cafeteria plans that allow pretax dollars to be set aside for medical expenses. You should check with your employer to see if your company offers this type of benefit. It is possible that the cost of LASIK may be deducted from your U.S. federal income taxes. You should check with your accountant to see if you can take LASIK as a deductible health expense. Many ophthalmologists in the United States also offer financing plans to their patients.
LASIK: The Surgical Procedure - What to Expect During LASIK Surgery
Patients are given a topical anesthetic (eye drops) to numb the eye, so they experience no pain during the procedure. When the surgeon applies the vacuum ring, the patient experiences a sensation of pressure just before his or her vision fades for a few seconds. The microkeratome ‹ the instrument the surgeon uses to create the flap ‹ and the laser do not cause any pain or discomfort. For several hours after the procedure, many patients describe a mild burning sensation, such as after opening the eyes while swimming in chlorinated water. Therefore, taking a nap for the first two to three hours after LASIK is encouraged. After the first few hours, this uncomfortable feeling usually subsides.
Patients may experience some discomfort and/or blurred vision for a few hours after surgery. And most patients receive a sedative prior to surgery. Therefore, you cannot drive home after undergoing the procedure, and you should plan not to drive for at least 24 hours.
According to several large studies, there is approximately a 2 percent intra-operative and 3-5 percent post-operative complication rate. Most of these complications do not result in loss of two or more lines of best corrected visual acuity or interfere with vision long term. The rate of severe complications should be substantially less than 1 percent. It is important for patients to understand that LASIK is surgery, and a small incidence of complications is to be expected.
Some patients who seek LASIK have underlying dry-eye syndrome that has not been diagnosed. There appears to be a correlation between pre-operative dry eye syndrome and developing more pronounced dry eye symptoms post-operatively. Therefore, many doctors test for dry eye prior to making a decision regarding eligibility.
Can I Perform Everyday Activities With LASIK?
You can resume most normal activities immediately after surgery. However, for at least two weeks you will need to avoid activities that would cause perspiration to run into the eyes. You should wear safety glasses while playing contact sports whether or not you have had surgery. But if you do not routinely wear safety glasses, your surgeon may recommend wearing them for at least one month after LASIK. You will also need to avoid such activities as contact sports and swimming for several weeks. It is important to talk specifically with your doctor about limitations on activities after LASIK.
Is LASIK Correction Permanent?
LASIK is a surgical procedure that permanently removes corneal tissue to reshape the eye in order to improve refraction. The physical results are permanent. However, you should be aware that the eyes can still change with time, and LASIK does not affect a number of visual conditions associated with age.
Depending on the cause, retreatment may be a viable solution to vision changes later in life, and other treatment options exist. You would need to see your ophthalmologist to determine the cause of the change and to determine which option is best for you.
Visit with your doctor and decide if LASIK correction is right for you. You and your doctor will work in partnership to achieve your best possible level of health. Most surgeons agree that if you are comfortable wearing contact lenses and are not bothered by being dependent on them, you should carefully evaluate the risks and benefits of LASIK.
The LASIK Institute
This information can help you decide whether to have LASIK surgery, a corrective procedure to improve your vision. Talk to your eye care professional so you can make the choice that is right for you. [Website]
This information is provided through research conducted by the Lasik Institute. For more information, visit the website or write:
ASCRS LASIK Institute
4000 Legato Road, Suite 850
Fairfax, VA 22033