LASIK Questions and Answers from a Refractive Surgeon

lasik surgery birmingham

Have questions about LASIK surgery? Get the answers straight from one of our Cornea and Refractive-Trained Ophthalmologists, Dr. Carolyn Hebson, M.D.

WHAT IS REFRACTIVE SURGERY?

Refractive surgery is surgery used for the treatment of myopia (nearsighted), hyperopia (farsighted), and astigmatism. The purpose of refractive surgery is to reduce or eliminate your need for glasses or contact lenses for clear vision. LASIK and PRK are different types of refractive procedures.

WHAT IS LASIK?

LASIK (Laser in situ keratomileusis) is the most popular refractive procedure to its excellent visual outcomes and rapid visual recovery. In LASIK, the surgeon uses 2 separate lasers to perform surgery. The femtosecond laser is used to create a partial thickness corneal flap and the excimer laser is used to reshape the cornea beneath the flap based on the patient’s individual prescription.

WHAT IS PRK?

PRK or advanced surface ablation uses the excimer laser to reshape the cornea on the surface, without creating a partial-thickness corneal flap. The surgeon manually removes the corneal surface cell layer (epithelium) and performs the treatment. The removed epithelium will regrow on its own during the first 3-7 days after surgery. A contact lens is applied after surgery to improve comfort and aid in this healing process.

WHAT IS iDESIGN?

iDesign is a high-definition wavefront aberrometry used to determine the best treatment for our LASIK and PRK patients. VisionFirst is proud to be the only practice in Birmingham using this advanced technology! With over 1250 data points, iDesign measures the internal optics and surface of the eye with extreme precision to create a personalized treatment plan individualized to your eye. This device has been shown to be 15 x more precise than the current technology used to determine your glasses or contact lens prescription.

HOW DO I CHOOSE BETWEEN LASIK & PRK?

Long-term visual results are identical between LASIK and PRK for good candidates. LASIK typically heals more quickly, providing a more rapid visual improvement compared to PRK. However, some patients are better candidates for PRK than LASIK especially patients with thinner corneas or prior corneal surgery. Your surgeon will recommend the procedure that is best for you based on an extremely detailed in-office evaluation.

ARE LASIK AND PRK SAFE?

While there are possible complications with any surgery, the risk of poor outcomes after LASIK or PRK is low for good candidates. In fact, many recent studies have found that the risks of refractive surgery are less than extended contact lens wear, or sleeping in contact lenses. Particularly, the risk of infection is much lower after LASIK or PRK compared to extended contact lens wear.

IS LASIK PAINFUL?

In general, LASIK is a very tolerable procedure. Before surg, ry a relaxing medication is offered, and numbing drops are placed into the eyes to prevent discomfort. There are a few moments of pressure during surgery, particularly during the creation of the LASIK flap. After surgery patients tend to experience burning, tearing, and light sensitivity for several hours, which improves with use of the post-operative medication and resting the eyes. These symptoms have typically resolved the day after surgery.

HOW LONG DOES THE SURGERY TAKE?

LASIK or PRK can be performed on both eyes in roughly 20-30 minutes.

DO I HAVE ANY RESTRICTIONS AFTER LASIK?

Restrictions include no swimming or extensive yard work for 2 weeks after LASIK. Typically, patients can resume work the day after surgery.

WHY DOES LASIK SEEM SO EXPENSIVE?

With LASIK, you get what you pay for. Modern LASIK technology is more expensive than first-generation technology, but it also allows for a safer surgery with a better visual result. Competitors who are offering extremely low LASIK pricing are using more outdated, less customized technology to perform surgery.

IS LASIK COVERED BY INSURANCE?

LASIK is considered an elective surgery and is not covered by insurance. Financing is available through CareCredit and LASIK typically qualifies as a reimbursable expense under your company’s Flexible Spending Account (FSA).

IS IT IMPORTANT WHO PERFORMS MY LASIK SURGERY?

Absolutely! Dr. Hebson is a fellowship-trained cornea and refractive surgeon who has gone through rigorous training to perform these procedures safely and effectively. She offers the most advanced LASIK and PRK technology available to her patients. In addition, she is experienced in managing the infrequent complications of LASIK and PRK.

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