FAQs

Q. What is nearsightedness?

A. Nearsightedness occurs when light entering the eye does not focus properly on the retina, the membrane that lines the back of the eyeball. Instead, the light falls short—usually because the eyeball has grown too long. As a result, distant objects appear blurry. Close-up vision, on the other hand, is not affected.

Q. What is farsightedness?

A. Farsightedness is the opposite of nearsightedness and is usually caused by an eyeball that's too short. Light focuses behind the retina instead of on it. Typically, farsightedness makes close objects appear to be out of focus, but distant objects are clear. Mild cases of farsightedness might not affect vision but cause headaches when reading or doing other close work. 

Q: What is a cataract?

A: A cataract is a clouding of the eye's naturally clear lens. The lens focuses light rays on the retina to produce a sharp image of what we see. When the lens becomes cloudy, light rays cannot pass through it easily and vision is blurred. If a cataract needs to be treated by surgery, the cloudy lens is removed from the eye through a surgical incision. In most cases the natural lens is replaced with a permanent intraocular lens implant.

Q: What is glaucoma?

A: Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve. When there is damage to the optic nerve fibers blind spots develop. These blind spots usually go undetected until the nerve is significantly damaged. If the entire optic nerve is destroyed it will result in blindness. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.

Q: What is macular degeneration?

A: Macular degeneration is a disease of the macula—the small part of the eye's retina that is responsible for our central vision. When the macula does not work properly your central vision can be blurry and you can have areas that are dark and distorted. If you notice a distortion or dark areas contact an ophthalmologist immediately. It is the most common cause of severe vision loss in people older than 50 (age-related macular degeneration).

Q: What is age-related wet macular degeneration?

A. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease of the macula—the small part of the eye's retina that is responsible for our central vision. This condition affects our central vision and can make some activities very difficult or impossible. AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over the age of 50. The most common treatment for wet macular degeneration involves injecting a drug into the eye that stops blood vessel growth and bleeding. These procedures may save more of your sight overall, however they are not cures and don't bring your vision back to normal.

Q: What is cystoid macular edema?

A: Cystoid macular edema (CME) is the swelling of the macula—the small part of the eye's retina that is responsible for our central vision. CME can be caused by blockage of a blood vessel in the retina, uveitis, diabetes and eye surgery or trauma. The most common symptom of CME is blurred or distorted central vision. Depending on the cause of CME, it can be treated by anti-inflammatory eye drops, injection of steroids into the eye laser surgery to repair blood vessel and possibly a procedure called a vitrectomy.

Q: What is a corneal abrasion?

A: A corneal abrasion (scratched cornea or scratched eye) is one of the most common eye injuries. The cornea is the clear front window of the eye and covers the iris (colored portion of the eye) and the round pupil, much like a watch crystal covers the face of the watch. A corneal abrasion may be treated by wearing a patch over the injured eye to prevent the eyelid from blinking, applying lubricating eye drops and using antibiotics to stop the possibility of infection.

Q: What is a detached retina?

A: A retinal detachment occurs when the retina is pulled away from its normal position. The retina does not work when it is detached which causes a blurry image. A retinal detachment is a very serious condition that almost always causes blindness if not treated properly There are several types of surgeries to fix a detachment including scleral buckle, pneumatic retinopexy or victrectomy. Your ophthalmologist can help you decide which procedure is best for you.

Q: What is diabetic retinopathy?

A: Diabetic retinopathy is caused by high blood sugar levels that damage blood vessels in the retina. The best treatment is to prevent the development of retinopathy as much as possible. Having strict control of your blood sugar can significantly reduce the long-term risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy. Medical treatment includes anti-VEGF injections, laser surgery or if advanced surgery.

Q: What is conjunctivitis?

A: Conjunctivitis is the term used to describe inflammation of the conjunctiva—the thin transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. Often called "pink eye," conjunctivitis is a common eye disease, especially in children. It may affect one or both eyes. Some forms of conjunctivitis are highly contagious and can easily spread in schools and at home. While conjunctivitis is usually a minor eye infection, sometimes it can develop into a more serious problem.

Q. What is adult stabismus?

A. Strabimus is a condition in which the eyeballs are not aligned properly and point different directions. When it occurs in adults, it is called adult stabismus. Nearly four in every 100 adults have adult strabismus. It can be treated by eye exercises, eyeglasses containing prisms, non-cosmetic Botox injections and eye muscle surgery.

Q: What is retinal vein occlusion?

A: A retinal vein occlusion occurs when a vein in the eye's retina is blocked. A blocked vein damages the blood vessels of the retina causing hemorrhages and leaking. Certain illnesses increase your risk of developing retinal vein occlusion including diabetes, glaucoma, high blood pressure and age related vascular diseases. There is no known cure for retinal vein occlusion, though in some cases intraocular injections or laser surgery may be performed.

Q: What is amblyopia?

A. Amblyopia is poor vision in an eye that did not develop normal sight during early childhood. Sometimes referred to as a "lazy eye", to correct amblyopia a child must be made to use the weak eye. This is done by blurring or patching the strong eye, often for weeks or months to strengthen the weak eye.

Q. What is bell's palsy?

A. Bell's palsy is a nerve disorder that causes partial or slight paralysis on one side of the face. Although the cause of bell's palsy is unknown, it may result from problems in the immune system or possible blockage of blood flow to a nerve. In over 80 percent of bell's palsy cases, it has disappears on its own.

Q: What is optic neuritis?

A: Optic neuritis is an inflammation of the eye's optic nerve. This may appear in one eye or both and symptoms may include blurred vision, dim vision, abnormal color vision or pain when moving the eyes. For some patients a medication called corticosteroids may be used to treat optic neuritis. Although some people recover normal vision without treatment, it is imperative to that you consult your ophthalmologist to avoid permanent eye damage.

Q: What is Fuchs' dystrophy?

A: Fuchs' dystrophy is a progressive disease that reduces the number of specific cells that make up the inner layer of the cornea. A person with Fuchs' dystrophy may have hazy or cloudy vision. There are two stages of the disease—the first stage is blurred vision in the morning, gradually getting better throughout the day, progressing to the second stage where the vision no longer gets better later in the day.  With this disease there is also sensitivity to light.

Q: What is strabismus?

A: Strabismus is a visual defect in which the eyes are misaligned and point in different directions. One eye may look straight ahead, while the other turns inward, outward, upward or downward. Strabismus is common among children and in some cases may be corrected by eyeglasses. Other treatments may involve surgery to correct the unbalanced eye.

Q: What is presbyopia?

A: Presbyopia is a condition in which your eyes gradually lose the ability to see things up close. Some start to notice presbyopia around the age of 40. There are a few ways to correct presbyopia such as reading glasses, bifocals or trifocals, monovision or multifocal contact lenses and refractive surgery.

Q: What is keratoconus?

A: Keratoconus is an uncommon condition where the normally round dome-like cornea becomes thin and develops a cone-like bulge. With keratoconus, the shape of the cornea is altered, distorting vision. Keratoconus can be treated with eyeglasses, implantable corneal devices or in extreme cases a corneal transplant.

Q: What is dry eye?

A: Sometimes people do not produce enough tears or an appropriate quality of tears to keep their eyes healthy and comfortable. This condition is known as dry eye. Usually the eye will sting, burn or have stringy mucus in or around the eye. Dry eye is treated by an eyedrop called artificial tears. They lubricate the eye and maintain moisture.

Q: What are floaters?

A: You may sometime see small specks moving in your field of vision. These are called floaters. They can appear as different shapes, such as dots, circles, lines, clouds or cobwebs. The most common cause of floaters is a vitreous detachment or retinal tear. If you suddenly develop new floaters, you should contact your ophthalmologist immediately.

Q: What is pterygium?

A: Pterygium is a growth of fleshy tissue on the conjunctiva that extends over the cornea. This growth may remain small or grow large enough to interfere with vision. In most cases, no treatment is needed, however if the growth becomes large enough to threaten sight or cause a persistent discomfort, it can be surgically removed.

Q: What is blepharitis?

A: Blepharitis is a common and persistent inflammation of the eyelids. This condition frequently occurs in people that have oily skin or dry eyes. Symptoms include eyelid irritation, itchiness of the eye and/or a burning sensation. Blepharitis is usually treated with warm compresses or eye lid scrubs using a clean wet washcloth.

Q: What is ptosis?

A: Ptosis is a drooping of the upper eyelid. The lid may droop slightly or cover the entire pupil. Ptosis can restrict and even block normal vision. It can be present in children as well as adults and may be treated with non-cosmetic lid surgery (Blepharoplasty).

Q: What is a stye?

A: A stye is a localized infection in the eyelid that causes a tender, red bump near the edge of the lid. The infection is caused by bacteria and can occur at the base of the eyelash or within one of the small oil glands within the eyelid. The first signs of a stye are pain, redness, swelling and tenderness. Styes typically don’t cause vision problems however other eye problems can accompany a stye. Most styes heal on their own and applying hot compress for 10 to 15 minutes, three to four times a day for several days will aid in the healing process. Much like a pimple, a stye should never be popped.

Q: What is uveitis?

A: Uveitis is an inflammation of any of the structures of the uvea—iris, ciliary body or choroid. Uveitis may be caused by a virus, fungus, parasite or injury to the eye. Symptoms of uveitis can be light sensitivity, blurred vision, pain, floaters and redness of the eye. Because of the serious nature of this disease you should be examined by an ophthalmologist immediately.

Q: What is a migraine?

A: A migraine is a neurological condition with visual symptoms—often zigzag lines, colored light or flashes of light—followed by a single sided pounding severe headache. Migraines can be triggered by certain foods, alcohol, stress and hormonal changes. Treatment usually involves avoiding the factors that may cause a migraine and to try over the counter anti-inflammatory medications. In extreme cases your physician may prescribe medications.

LASIK and PRK FAQs

Q. What is LASIK?

A. LASIK is a safe, highly successful type of laser refractive surgery used to treat a variety of refractive disorders of the eye including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Normally, clear vision is achieved when your cornea (the front "window" of the eye) focuses light onto the retina (back part of the eye) to create an image. If the cornea is not perfectly shaped or if the eyeball is longer or shorter than normal, a distorted image is projected onto the retina resulting in blurry vision. For many years the only solution to this problem was corrective eyewear. LASIK involves using an eximer laser (a cool beam of light) to reshape the cornea in order to decrease or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses. LASIK works by removing tiny amounts of tissue from the cornea, slightly changing its shape and the angle at which light enters through it and is projected onto the retina.

Q. What results can I expect?

A. Typically, you will see an immediate improvement in your eyesight. LASIK's objective is to produce vision of 20/40 of better without glasses or contact lenses. Your vision may be somewhat hazy for several days following the surgery. Most patients' eyes stabilize within four to six weeks of surgery. Some patients may require a second procedure known as an enhancement. The need for an enhancement may be caused by several factors including high degrees of refractive error or the simple fact that each patient's corneal cells will absorb the laser's energy slightly different.

Q. Will I be awake during my LASIK surgery?

A. A mild sedative and anesthetic drops are administered before surgery. You will be fully conscious, yet relaxed, throughout the procedure.

Q. What happens during the recovery period?

A. Your eyes will be covered with protective shields until the next day. These shields are clear to permit sight while protecting against foreign objects entering your eyes. Your eyes may feel scratchy or tear up for about two hours after surgery.

For the first month, you'll wear flexible shields at night to make sure you don't accidentally rub your eyes while you sleep. You'll administer prescription eye drops for a designated time after surgery. One prescription is an antibiotic and the other controls inflammation. 

Most patients can return to normal activities one or two days after LASIK—keep in mind, however, that every patient is different, so your recovery might be a little longer. Try to keep your recovering schedule as flexible as possible.

Q. How soon will my eyes stabilize?

A. The majority of patients can resume most activities a day or two after the procedure. Your vision will continue to stabilize over the next three months, and in some case, over a longer period. During this stabilization period, you can usually work, drive and carry on with most daily activities.

Q. Will I need glasses after the LASIK procedure?

A. Most people who are older than 40-45 will probably need reading glasses for close work, just as they would if they were wearing glasses or contact lenses. Others may require glasses for some activities such as driving at night. Some patients may still require glasses or contact lenses for regular activities, depending on the severity of their pre-LASIK refractive error.

Q. What is 100% blade-free technology?

A. Blade-free technology uses the IntraLase laser to create the corneal flap. Some surgeons make this flap manually using a blade called a microkeratome.

Q. Does LASIK surgery cause night blindness?

A. Some patients have reported seeing halos around lights at night immediately following surgery. In 99 percent of patients, the halos either disappear or become small enough that they are not a problem within a few months.

Q. Does LASIK surgery cause dry eyes?

A. Patients who had borderline or symptomatic dry eyes when wearing contact lenses prior to LASIK surgery may find that the condition continues after surgery.  In most cases, dry eye can be treated with artificial tear eye drops or occlusion of the tear drainage ducts.

Q. Is LASIK covered by insurance?

A. Some insurance providers cover the procedure, although most do not. Check with your insurance provider to see if they cover LASIK. Financing options may be available and you can also use HSA, FSA dollars or Ophthalmology Associates does accept CareCredit that offers 24 month interest free financing upon approval.

Finding the most effective Medical Savings Plan for LASIK is no different than finding the right surgeon to perform it. That's why at Ophthalmology Associates, we offer you the information you need to make the best overall decision for your vision care needs—including ways to save on the cost of LASIK.

Q. Is LASIK painful?

A. Most laser vision correction patients find LASIK surgery to be slightly uncomfortable but not painful. Some patients may experience discomfort during the first 12-24 hours. Anesthetic drops are used to numb the eye just before LASIK surgery begins and you will also be giving a mild sedative to help you relax. After your LASIK surgery your eyes may feel some irritation for a few hours, but most patients are quite comfortable after taking a short nap. You will given instructions to purchase over-the-counter artificial tear eye drops for your eyes to counteract any dryness you may experience in the days following surgery.

Q. What are the risks of LASIK?

A. Some potential complications include conditions such as dryness, night glare, under or over-correction and loss of best-corrected vision. The risks of surgery should be discussed fully with the doctor prior to the procedure. Additionally, proper post-operative care helps to identify and address any potential healing complications.

Like any treatment or operation, complications can occur. Many can be easily treated. The most common side effects include temporary haziness, halos, dry eyes, sensitivity to bright lights and fluctuating vision.

Q: How is LASIK performed?

A: The LASIK laser vision correction procedure usually takes less than 15 minutes. The actual laser time is approximately one minute. LASIK is performed in a refractive surgery suite using state of the art laser technology. Once in the suite, the patient will be comfortably positioned on a bed specifically designed for the laser. Eye drops will be put in the eyes to make them numb so no pain is felt during the procedure. An eyelid speculum is then placed to keep the eye safely open during the procedure. The first step in LASIK involves creating a partial thickness hinged flap through the cornea. By creating a flap in the cornea, the surgeon is able to perform the laser vision correction treatment on the inner layer of the cornea, which practically eliminates any patient discomfort and allows for a rapid visual recovery. The flap is then gently lifted and folded over. Once the flap is securely folded back, the eximer laser produces precise pulses of energy that remove a small amount of tissue to accurately reshape the cornea. During this portion of the procedure, the patient is asked to look straight ahead at a guide light. Due to sophisticated eye tracking systems with modern lasers, small movements of the eye can be tracked so the laser can deliver precise pulses despite small movements of the eye. The flap is then replaced and adheres naturally and securely to the underlying cornea. Eye drops will be placed in the eye and a shield will be placed over the eye for protection. The procedure is then repeated on the other eye.

Q. What is PRK?

A. Photorefractive Keratotomy or PRK is a safe, highly successful type of laser refractive surgery used to treat a variety of refractive disorders of the eye including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Normally, clear vision is achieved when your cornea (the front "window" of the eye) focuses light onto the retina (back part of the eye) to create an image. If the cornea is not perfectly shaped or if the eyeball is longer or shorter than normal, a distorted image is projected onto the retina resulting in blurry vision. PRK involves using an eximer laser (a cool beam of light) to reshape the cornea in order to decrease or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses. PRK works by removing tiny amounts of tissue from the cornea, slightly changing its shape and the angle at which light enters through it and is projected onto the retina. PRK has been approved as a refractive surgery method since 1995.

Q. What is the difference between LASIK and PRK?

A. Both procedures use a laser to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. In the LASIK procedure, the corneal surface cells are lifted to one side and the laser is applied to the underlying corneal tissue. During the PRK procedure, the corneal surface cells are discarded, so healing takes longer and there is a more gradual improvement in vision.  

Q. Is PRK safe and effective?

A. Greater than 90 percent of PRK patients achieve 20/20 vision without using eyeglasses or contact lenses. Around 95-98 percent of all patients experienced 20/40 vision or better after surgery.

Q. How is PRK performed?

A. PRK is performed in a refractive surgery suite using state of the art laser technology. Once in the suite, the patient will be comfortably positioned on a bed specifically designed for the laser. Eye drops will be put in the eyes to make them numb so no pain is felt during the procedure. An eyelid speculum is then placed to keep the eye safely open during the procedure. The first step in PRK involves completely removing the thin outer layer of the cornea (called the epithelium) over the treatment area. This can be done mechanically with a spatula (usually after a dilute alcohol solution is applied to soften the epithelium) or with an excimer laser. This step of the procedure is painless. Once the epithelium has been removed, the eximer laser produces precise pulses of energy that remove a small amount of tissue to accurately reshape the cornea. During this portion of the procedure, the patient is asked to look straight ahead at a guide light. Due to sophisticated eye tracking systems with modern lasers, small movements of the eye can be tracked so the laser can deliver precise pulses despite small movements of the eye. Once the laser treatment is complete, a soft contact lens is placed over the eye to serve as a bandage while the corneal epithelium grows back in place, which usually takes about three to five days. Eye drops will be placed in the eye and a shield will be placed over the eye for protection. The procedure is then repeated on the other eye.

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