LASIK Birmingham, AL

At VisionFirst we are excited to offer iLASIK™ the ultimate in laser vision correction. We are committed to using the most advanced technology, customized treatments for your eyes. Our experienced surgeons are trained in the latest techniques and equipment. This personalized procedure is the culmination of everything we’ve learned about LASIK since it’s inception. To our clients throughout the greater Birmingham areas, take your first step to clear vision by scheduling your routine eye exam and LASIK screening at VisionFirst Eye Center – where your vision comes first.

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VisionFirst Eye Center is proud to be part of the RSC Verified program. The seal reflects our commitment to providing you with the information you need to make the right decisions for your vision correction. The RSC Verified seal also represents a promise and a standard for information that is unbiased and based on the latest science. Information you read with the RSC Verified seal has been developed under the guidance of the Refractive Surgery Council and meets the highest standard for quality and accuracy. Information with the RSC Verified seal will ensure you have the information you need to make an informed decision about your vision correction options.

LASIK Self-Test

LASIK eye surgery in Birmingham corrects many vision problems

LASIK, which stands for – Laser In Situ Keratomileusis – is a surgical procedure to reduce nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism by reshaping tissue in the cornea (the clear covering of the front of the eye). LASIK is just one method of refractive vision correction, and its long-term results have proven to be very stable. We are proud to be the premier providers of LASIK surgery for the Birmingham, Alabama area.

Chart Illustrating the LASIK Eye Surgery Process

We are excited to offer iLASIK™ – the ultimate in laser vision correction

The technology used in the iLASIK™ procedure is safe and proven. Nearly 32 million LASIK procedures have been performed to date, making it the most common elective vision procedure in the United States.

iLASIK™’s Wavefront technology enables each treatment to be “designed” by the unique characteristics of the individual’s’ eyes. WaveScan technology produces a detailed map of the eye. Much like a fingerprint, no two are alike. After the blade-free Intralase method creates the corneal flap, this information is then translated into a set of CustomVue treatment instructions for the laser. WaveScan transfers these digital treatment instructions to the laser, providing a new level of precision and accuracy. CustomVue is a good choice for individuals who struggle to achieve the visual acuteness they need with contacts or glasses, or for people who tend to see “halos” around lights or have problems with glare.

Hear about the iLASIK experience below!


The difference between LASIK and iLASIK™

When it comes to vision correction, LASIK and iLASIK™ procedures are two of the most commonly performed. The main difference between the two is how the ‘flap’ is made. At VisionFirst, we provide iLASIK™ because we believe it is the safest and most effective method for laser vision correction. LASIK is a method of correcting refractive errors of the eye by using an excimer laser to reshape the front surface of the patient’s cornea. When performing any type of LASIK, a corneal flap is created. With the standard LASIK procedure a microkeratome (hand-held) blade is used to cut and fashion this flap whereas, with iLASIK™, the corneal flap is created with a second (femtosecond) laser.

The iLASIK™ procedure reduces sight-threatening complications seen with the microkeratome flap. The advantage of the iLASIK™ procedure is it replaces the manually created microkeratome flap with a much safer and precise method. This flap creation utilizes the IntraLase technology.

How visual outcomes vary from iLASIK™ compared to traditional LASIK

Clinical studies confirmed that patients see better following iLASIK™ than with the handheld microkeratome blades. In addition to better vision, the iLASIK™ group with a laser created flap tends to have better outcomes with fewer complications including glare and halos at night. iLASIK™ patients complain less of post-operative dry eyes and a significantly reduced incidence of surgically induced astigmatism.

Check out our YouTube playlist to see the most recent patient LASIK journeys. 

Why custom iLASIK™?

At VisionFirst, we employ custom iLASIK™ treatment. Custom wavefront-guided surgery is designed to eliminate pre-existing aberrations in the eye and uses state of the art wavefront-guided technology. Fewer aberrations and better vision are the hallmarks of iLASIK™ and the reason we employ this technique at VisionFirst Eye Center.


iFS® AMO Laser

The iFS® Femtosecond Laser is the most advanced femtosecond Intralase technology for corneal flap creation during LASIK surgery. At VisionFirst Eye Center, we are proud to provide this technology to our LASIK patients. The iFS® Advanced femtosecond Laser has amazing speed, accuracy, and is regarded as one of the best femtosecond lasers on the market.

iFS® AMO Laser

In addition, the iFS® laser is able to make partial and full-thickness corneal incisions at different depths and shapes, allowing our ophthalmologists to place corneal INTACS, inlays, and perform partial thickness corneal transplantation.

iDesign Advanced CustomVue LASIK System

VisionFirst is happy to announce the addition of the iDesign wavefront analyzer from AMO-VISX to our LASIK practice. We are the first in Birmingham to offer this high-definition, advanced technology to our LASIK patients. iDesign measures the internal optics and surface of the eye more precisely than conventional methods. This precision allows iDesign to create a unique “blueprint” and a personalized treatment plan for each eye.

This technology is so advanced it is being used by NASA to shape the mirrors of the James Webb or Next Generation Space Telescope, which will transmit high-resolution images of deep space to Earth beginning in 2018.

What does the iDesign system offer you?

  • Creation of a precise, customized, individualized 3D map or your entire eye and any visual imperfections.
  • A device that captures over 1250 data points, and is 25 times more accurate than the conventional technology used to write a glasses or contact lens prescription.
  • A laser that precisely aligns your treatment and gently reshapes your cornea to minimize both higher and lower order aberrations using proprietary technology.
  • Achievement of clearer vision without the hassle of glasses or contact lenses.

Consider this, 6 months after surgery:

  • 99% of nearsighted patients reported no limitation in outdoor or active activities
  • 97% of patients were satisfied with their vision
  • 94% of patients could see 20/20 or better without glasses or contact lenses
  • 93% of patients reported little to no difficulty with night driving

I have never had to wear eyeglasses until just recently, and now only wear them to read. Will iLASIK correct this?

Unfortunately, LASIK is not the best option to get rid of your reading glasses. As we age, the lens in the eye loses its ability to bend, which is what allows us to see both up close and far away. That is why most people over 40, who have never had difficulty with their vision, suddenly need reading glasses. This condition is called presbyopia. Laser Vision Correction will not help restore the flexibility of your natural lens, but there are several other options that you should discuss with our LASIK counselor.

Can I afford LASIK?

Financing is available through CareCredit with extended payment options that make LASIK affordable for virtually any budget. We also accept Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account. Be sure to ask about discounts that may be available based on your vision insurance or occupation.

Does insurance cover the costs?

Laser vision correction is considered a cosmetic elective procedure typically not covered by insurance companies. We do, however, offer several payment options.

Are the results permanent?

When you undergo Laser Vision Correction at our center in Birmingham, Alabama the results are permanent. However, it does not prevent age-related conditions such as cataracts and presbyopia.

When will I be able to return to work?

Many patients return to work the day after the procedure. Dr. Hebson will discuss which, if any, work activities should be limited during the postoperative period.

Is the procedure painful?

Not at all. Patients are given a mild sedative and anesthetizing eye drops. Following surgery, eyes may temporarily feel scratchy, but this isn’t a problem for most patients. Some patients experience a mild sensitivity to light but this will subside as well.

How do I know if I am a candidate for iLASIK?

We’ll provide you with a complimentary initial screening that usually takes less than 30 minutes. We will start by measuring your prescription, showing you an informative video and talking you through any questions or concerns. A preliminary determination will be made as to whether you are a candidate for laser vision correction.

If I am a candidate, what’s the next step?

If you are a candidate, we will perform an extensive exam before your procedure. This comprehensive examination takes approximately 2 hours. To assure your best visual outcome, we ask that you leave soft contact lenses out for two week and hard contacts out three weeks prior to this exam. For hard contacts, plan to have your measurements repeated every 1-2 weeks until they stabilize.

What is the difference between LASIK and iLASIK?

LASIK surgery uses a laser to change the curvature of the cornea (front surface of the eye). If the shape of the eye is modified, light can properly focus on the retina (back of eye). At VisionFirst, we perform a more customized procedure called iLASIK. Our Wavefront technology enables each treatment to be “designed” by the unique characteristics of the individual’s’ eyes by producing a detailed map of the eye. After the blade-free Intralase method creates the corneal flap, this information is then translated into a set of CustomVue treatment instructions for the laser providing a new level of precision and accuracy.

Free LASIK Screening

If you are not sure if you are a candidate for iLASIK, start here. The initial screening is free. We will start by measuring your prescription, measuring the thickness of your corneas (the front clear part of your eye), and answering all of your questions.

LASIK Evaluation

If it appears that you may be a good candidate for LASIK, the next step is to schedule your preoperative examination with Dr. Carolyn Hebson. To assure the best visual outcome, you’ll need to leave your soft contact lenses out for two week and hard contacts three weeks prior to your pre- operative exam with Dr. Hebson. Plan to have your measurements repeated every 1-2 weeks until they stabilize. This evaluation is extensive and includes taking measurements and assessing the overall health of your eyes.

Schedule your LASIK Surgery Date

If you are still a good candidate for LASIK, Dr. Carolyn Hebson will thoroughly explain the benefits and risks of the procedure and answer any questions you may have. We will then schedule your surgery date. You are getting closer to clear vision!

Pre-LASIK Counseling

In the days leading up to the surgery, our LASIK coordinator will call or email you with your pre- and post-operative instructions. We’ll explain your payment options and call in the prescription drugs to your pharmacy to use after your procedure.


Dr. Hebson will meet with you and your family to answer any remaining questions and review your test results. In order to relax you, we will administer a valium and escort you to our relaxation room where you can lie down and listen to music. The procedure only takes a few minutes and is done in our Laser Suite. Your friends and family can watch the procedure from our viewing area. Click here to watch the entire experience or contact us and we will email you an animated video.

LASIK Post-Operative Appointment

All of your post-operative appointments are provided for up to three months following your procedure. If you and your doctor decide you need additional laser treatments to improve your vision, these enhancements are provided by VisionFirst free of charge for two years, provided you complete all of your post-operative visits and your eye doctors clear you of any contraindications for an enhancement.

Am I a LASIK candidate?

Call to schedule your free iLASIK screening! We will start by measuring your prescription, measuring the thickness of your corneas (the front clear part of your eye), and answering all of your questions. If we determine you may be a candidate, the next step is a complete medical eye evaluation.

This examination is a complete eye evaluation and eye history to determine whether you are a good candidate for the LASIK procedure. VisionFirst laser vision correction patients have a Wavescan, orbscan, corneal tomography, pachymetry, refraction, and dilated eye exam. This advanced technology maps the unique characteristics of your individual eye. With this information, our surgeon will be able to:

  • Accurately assess whether you’re a good candidate for laser vision correction.
  • Along with the other diagnostic tests that your doctor performs, an individualized treatment plan can then be developed to address your unique vision needs.

The best way to find out if you are a candidate for IntraLase Custom LASIK is to schedule a free LASIK screening by calling us at 205-949-2020.

For Patients with Astigmatism

Astigmatism is usually caused by the curvature of your cornea. It causes blurred vision at both distance and near ranges. Generally iLASIK is an excellent treatment for astigmatism. However, the initial screening and eye exam at our Birmingham, AL office will provide a more conclusive answer.

For Patients over 40

Tired of contacts, bifocals, even reading glasses? If you are over or approaching 40, there are things to consider before you undergo LASIK correction at VisionFirst. After 40, there are changes in the lens inside the eye that cause difficulty in changing focus from distance to near. This is called presbyopia.

LASIK can correct for one distance only. Most people choose to have their vision corrected for distance. LASIK cannot reverse presbyopia. Before having LASIK at our eye care clinic, there are a few options to contemplate:

LASIK Distance Correction in Both Eyes

This is the most common preference and allows both eyes to work together. If you are over 40, you will still need reading glasses.

LASIK Monovision Correction

This option corrects your dominant eye for distance vision and your non-dominant for near. The advantage is you will not need reading glasses for most tasks. You may still need reading glasses for fine print or prolonged reading. Monovision may first be tried in contact lenses, before it is made permanent with laser treatment.

Refractive Lens Exchange

Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is a procedure for patients over the age of 45 who want to reduce their dependence on reading glasses. Using the same procedure that has been used for millions of patients undergoing cataract surgery, Dr. Mark Bearman and Dr. Carolyn Hebson perform the RLE procedure by removing the eye’s natural lens and replacing it with an artificial lens implant. With the RLE procedure, a laser is used to make an incision and specially designed intraocular lenses are inserted that allow the eye to focus for distance and NEAR.

Refractive Lens Exchange is used for the following types of patients:
  • Patients with very high levels of nearsightedness or farsightedness.
  • Patients who want to limit their dependence on bifocals or reading glasses.
  • Patients who have corneas that are too thin for LASIK.
  • Patients who may be showing signs (even without symptoms) of developing cataracts.

Monovision LASIK and Refractive Lens Exchange are great vision correction options, but must be fully understood before you make any decisions about surgery. Our doctors can help you decide the best option available to help reduce your dependence on eyeglasses.

Visian ICL

There’s a new option besides LASIK, contact lenses and glasses. It’s called Visian ICL. ICL–or the implantable commaler lens–is a procedure to help correct near-sightedness.

In a 15-minute procedure at the Outpatient Care Center, Dr. Carolyn Hebson will implant a tiny foldable Visian ICL into the far edge of the cornea. Recovery from this procedure is fast and usually only lasts one day. Side effects are typically minimal but include dry eyes, thinner corneas and some increased ocular pressure.

PRK Laser Eye Surgery

Photorefractive keratectomy was the first type of laser surgery, a predecessor to LASIK surgery. Even though it’s the first form of laser eye surgery, it’s still the best for some patients. PRK works by reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser. This allows light entering the eye to be properly focused onto the retina for clear vision. Recovery time for PRK is generally a little longer.

PRK is similar to LASIK in that it works by reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser. The main difference between PRK and LASIK lies within the first step of the procedure.

In PRK, the outer layer of cornea (epithelium) is manually removed prior to corneal reshaping with the excimer laser. The epithelium will repair itself by growing back over the corneal surface within 3-7 days of surgery. In LASIK, a thin corneal flap is created and lifted to expose the underlying corneal tissue. The cornea is reshaped with the excimer laser and the flap is repositioned. The actual laser treatment is the same and visual outcomes after PRK and LASIK are similar. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to each surgery.

Advantages of PRK include:

Less corneal tissue is treated, allowing non-LASIK candidates the option of refractive surgery. There is no risk of flap-related complications. Risk of dry eyes may be reduced.

Disadvantages of PRK include:

Visual recovery is slower after PRK compared to LASIK. Most patients do not work for at least 2 days after surgery to allow their eyes time to rest.Compared to LASIK, patients who undergo PRK can have more irritation and foreign body sensation for the first few days after surgery.Patients require a longer duration of prescription eye drops after PRK as compared to LASIK.

What should I expect after PRK?

Once the eye is treated, the surgeon will place a soft contact lens to protect the eye while it heals. The contact lens will remain in the eye while the cornea heals, which typically occurs within 3-7 days. During this time, it is normal to experience blurry or fluctuating vision, light sensitivity, dryness, and/or foreign body sensation. It is common for one eye to heal more rapidly than another.

You will be given prescription eye drops as well as oral pain medication to use if needed. At your one week appointment, the contact lenses are removed and your vision will slowly improve. It can take a few weeks to a few months for patients to achieve their optimal vision, however your final visual outcome will be the same as if you had LASIK. As a result, your patience will be rewarded by a lifetime of better vision.

Which is better for me, LASIK or PRK?

In most cases, PRK is recommended for patients who have thinner corneas, slightly irregular corneas, or corneal pathology. After a detailed clinical examination, Dr. Carolyn Hebson will recommend the surgical procedure that best fits your needs.

Carolyn Hebson, MD
Carolyn Hebson, MD
Birmingham, Trussville, Pelham and Alabaster
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