LASIK & Refractive Surgery Program
Frequently Asked Questions about LASIK
LASIK is a quick, usually painless, procedure. It is performed on a delicate part of the eye, and therefore an individual undergoing the procedure should understand the risks and the benefits, the importance of an initial screening exam by a physician, and have realistic expectations about the procedure's outcome.
According to the Eye Surgery Education Council Medical Advisory Board, many millions of LASIK procedures have been conducted, and less than 1 percent of patients have experienced serious vision problems. Complications are rare and usually represent delays in full recovery and resolve within a few months of surgery.
Some LASIK patients may require an enhancement (re-treatment) to achieve the optimal outcome. This may be done about three months after the original procedure. The Allegretto Wave laser, used at Emory Vision, had a total retreatment rate of less than 5% in combined clinical trials of patients with hyperopia (farsightedness) and myopia (nearsightedness).
In the past, glare from bright lights and light sensitivity have been a cause of concern as a potential complication for patients undergoing LASIK. Emory Vision patients rarely experience this complication. In fact, patients who did report glare from bright lights, light sensitivity, and night driving glare all improved after LASIK in studies on the Allegretto Wave laser*.
*Source http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/PDF3/p030008.html page 60.
- 18 years of age with stable glasses or contact lens prescriptions for at least two years
- sufficient corneal thickness (measured by a technician)
- does not suffer from any disease, vision-related or otherwise, that may reduce the effectiveness of the surgery or the patient’s ability to heal properly and quickly
- is thoroughly informed about the benefits and risks of the procedure by thoroughly discussing the procedure with their physicians and understanding that for most people, the goal of refractive surgery should be the reduction of dependency on glasses and contact lenses, not their complete elimination
The key is to work with a physician who is motivated solely by the goal to provide the highest quality vision and long-term satisfaction for you.
Learn more about whether you are a LASIK candidate in this short video:
- have conditions such as cataracts, advanced glaucoma, corneal diseases, corneal thinning disorders (keratoconus or pellucid marginal degeneration), or certain other pre-existing eye diseases that affect or threaten vision
- do not give informed consent
- Have glaucoma, cataracts or dry eyes
- With collagen vascular, autoimmune or immunodeficiency diseases
- Show signs of keratoconus (an eye disorder in which there is thinning of the cornea that results in blurred or distorted images)
- Take medications with ocular side effects (such as Accutane® or Cordarone®)
Learn more about the risks of LASIK surgery in this short video with Emory Visions' Dr. Bradley Randleman:
Although no one knows the exact number of complications, studies suggest that the incidence of minor difficulties such as dry eyes and nighttime glare is around 3% to 5% from combined LASIK and PRK procedures. These minor complications include:
- Halos - Some patients will notice glare, halos or starburst around objects in low-light conditions. For the vast majority, these symptoms are temporary. However, others will continue to experience them for several months or longer. During pre-operative evaluation, the refractive surgeon can determine whether or not a person is at high risk for seeing long-term halos.
- Dry eyes - There is increased dryness of the eyes typically for several months following LASIK, though some patients may experience dryness for a longer period of time. It is important to use lubricating drops frequently. If the eyes remain dry for prolonged period, there are other drops or techniques that can help. Pre-operative evaluation will help determine whether or not a person is a likely candidate for experiencing dry eyes.
- Infection - This is an extremely rare occurrence, with a 1 in 2000-3000 chance (similar to any eye surgery). Fortunately, firmly established protocols exist which minimize the risk of infection.
Because contact lenses change the shape of the cornea, LASIK candidates are required to switch to eyeglasses before their baseline evaluation is taken and continue wearing only eyeglasses between 2-4 weeks before LASIK surgery. Not leaving contact lenses out long enough for the cornea to assume its natural shape before surgery can cause inaccurate measurements and poor vision after surgery.
While the inner cornea (the stroma) is exposed, the surgeon will ask the patient to fixate on a specific light source above the patient. This is to ensure that the laser beam is aligned precisely with the center of the patient's eye. Once the eye is in the correct position, the laser treatment is performed. The computer-controlled excimer laser removes the tissue under the flap and reshapes the cornea of the eye. In less than 60 seconds, ultraviolet light and high-energy pulses from the excimer laser reshape the internal cornea with accuracy up to 0.25 microns, or 1/4000 of a millimeter.
After the pulses of laser energy vaporize the corneal tissue, the flap is put back into its original position. The surgeon will observe the eye for three to five minutes to ensure bonding. Because the cornea bonds quickly, healing is rapid, and the eye does not require stitches.
Learn more about recovery after LASIK surgery in this short video:
Terms and conditions apply. As example, you must complete post-surgery appointments and annual eye exams with an Emory Eye Center doctor for LASIK five year guarantee. For the 12 months following refractive surgery, patients receive high quality care focused on the patient’s optimal visual outcome.
The 12 month post-operative period includes:
• Post operative visits related to the refractive surgery at no charge. Typically, this is one day, 1 month and 1 year.
• The post-operative period does not include other medical conditions that may require examination and treatment during this period.
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