LASIK

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 to reduce a patient’s dependence on glasses and contact lenses. LASIK surgery was first performed in 1990 and has since grown to become one of the most popular elective procedures performed throughout the world due to its effectiveness, safety and remarkable results.

At Ophthalmology Associates, you will receive the highest standard of care for your LASIK procedure and post-operative care. The same surgeon that will perform the procedure will meet with you personally during your consultation to discuss your options and answer your questions. Our ophthalmologists are experienced, caring and from the region. Procedures are done on-site at Ophthalmology Associates, so there is no need to travel out of the area for LASIK. We use the most advanced LASIK technology—Bladeless Wavefront Guided LASIK—that allows us to provide a customized approach for each patient’s needs. While many providers only offer this technology as an upgrade, this is Ophthalmology Associates’ standard for LASIK.

ARE YOU A CANDIDATE FOR LASIK?

If you need glasses or contact to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, you may be a candidate for LASIK. Even people who have a cataract surgery may be candidates. Refractive surgery is intended for people who want to minimize their reliance on glasses or contact lenses. Refractive surgery does not improve the vision beyond what is already obtainable by glasses or contacts. People wanting perfect vision without corrective lenses run the risk of being disappointed.

A good candidate for LASIK or PRK must be free of eye disease. While there is no upper age limit for having refractive surgery, people under 21 are not good candidates as their vision may still be changing. Pregnant or nursing women, people with keratoconus, ocular herpetic disease, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus and diabetics are not recommended to have PRK or LASIK. If you are taking the medications Accutane (isotretinoin), Cordarone (amiodarone) or Imitrex (sumatriptan) you should not have laser refractive surgery.

To find out if you are a good candidate for refractive surgery, take our LASIK Self Test and schedule a free evaluation with Ophthalmology Associates. At this visit, our knowledgeable technicians will determine your visual acuity, current vision prescription and best corrected vision. Measurements of your cornea including curvature, thickness and topographic maps will be obtained.Our ophthalmologists will be able to perform a full screening exam to evaluate for corneal, cataract and retinal conditions. A pressure check for glaucoma screening will also be performed. Once all the measurements have been obtained, the doctor will meet with you to discuss refractive surgery options and answer any questions you may have. Plan on this free consultation lasting at least 60 minutes.

For anyone that wears contact lenses—in order to obtain the most accurate measurements of your eyes, please remove your contact lens at least two weeks prior to this examination. Rigid gas permeable (hard) contacts should be removed at least four weeks prior to the evaluation. Failure to do so may produce inaccurate results. Contacts must also be removed for at least three weeks prior to surgery.

 

THE LASIK PROCEDURE

 

During the LASIK procedure, you will remain awake. The doctor administers numbing eye drops to keep you comfortable throughout the procedure. Next, using the femtosecond laser, the surgeon creates a thin corneal flap. This layer is then gently lifted and the surgeon uses the excimer laser to reshape the newly exposed layer of the cornea. One this surface of the cornea has been treated, the surgeon returns the “flap” to its original position. Therefore, the shape of the cornea is corrected under the surface. 

After the procedure, you will leave with post operative instructions including the use of eye drops that help your eyes heal. Generally most patients return to work within 48 hours.

 

LASIK & 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.

Please call our office at 507-345-6151 to schedule your free evaluation.

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Ophthalmology Associates has been serving the greater Mankato area for over 50 years and our goal has been to provide our patients with the utmost in personal attention and the very best in eye care services. Contact us to set up your appointment today!