The time before the procedure will give you a chance to visit with your ophthalmologist and ask any last minute questions...
How long does the procedure take?
The actual laser procedure itself usually takes less than a minute per eye. It can take a little longer or a little less depending on the correction done. Including preparation time you can expect LASIK will take approximately 10-15 minutes per eye.
Your office visit on the day of the procedure should take about an hour and a half. It s important to show up at the appointed time and leave the remainder of your day free. You won t be spending your whole day at the laser center but it s very helpful to be able to simply rest and relax after the procedure. The time before the procedure will give you a chance to visit with your ophthalmologist and ask any last minute questions as well as complete any testing that remains.
Will I be awake during the procedure?
Yes. You will be awake and alert for your LASIK procedure. You may even be asked to assist in aligning the laser for the procedure by keeping your gaze fixed on a blinking red light.
Does it hurt?
Most patients experience little - if any - discomfort during their actual procedure. This is because anaesthetic (pain numbing) drops keep the eye from feeling anything at all while the operation is in progress. After the operation some LASIK patients may notice mild irritation. They may also experience a little sensitivity to light and perhaps have some watering of the eyes for a day or two after the procedure. In terms of pain and recovery LASIK is a mild procedure from which patients recover quickly.
Will I Need Glasses or Contacts again?
The great majority of laser vision correction patients do not need glasses for normal distance vision tasks (sports or driving). Some people choose to wear glasses after laser vision correction in order to get the sharpest vision or to help with demanding visual tasks like night driving.
People in their mid-40s and older who have good distance vision in both eyes will need correction for reading. This is an entirely normal condition called presbyopia and has nothing to do with laser vision correction. After a certain age everyone who has excellent distance vision will need some kind of correction for reading. From about age 45 onward the only people who can read without glasses are people who are slightly nearsighted and they can t see clearly at distance!
If you are over 40 and after discussion with your doctor would like to be glasses-free for both distance and near vision laser vision correction can correct one eye for distance vision and the other eye for near vision. This is a technique called monovision. Many people over 40 find monovision highly satisfactory but it is very important to discuss it carefully in advance with your eye doctor. If you are interested in monovision you can try it out first with contact lenses. Ask your eye doctor for a trial.
Can I Go Blind From The Laser?
This is an easy question. The answer is "No." No one has ever been blinded by the laser and no one is ever likely to be. The excimer laser beam works on the very top-most layer of eye tissue that it strikes. Each successive pulse of the laser removes just a tiny amount of tissue from this top-most layer. No energy from the laser penetrates below the surface of the eye. This is what makes the excimer laser so safe!
That doesn t mean that nothing can go wrong during laser vision correction. There are risks and you should be aware of them. However being blinded by the laser isn t one of the risks.
What Are The Risks Or Side Effects?
The chance of a serious complication with laser eye surgery is very low - less than 1 percent. However there is some risk. Your consultant will discuss these with you. Some side effects which are nearly always temporary are:
- halos or starbursts around lights and bright objects at night
- haze (usually slight) during the healing process
- discomfort during the first 2 - 3 days following the procedure - for example ,mild irritation,
light sensitivity,watery eyes. This is easily treated with medication.
Other risks again uncommon are vision regression (most often treated with an enhancement procedure) loss of best corrected vision (most often temporary and usually treated with an enhancement procedure) infection (extremely rare and is easily treated with medication) and under/over-correction (treated with an enhancement procedure).
Should Both Eyes Be Corrected At One Time?
The choice is yours. Our experience research and patient tracking data tells us that there is very little additional risk associated with surgery that is performed on both eyes at one time. It is obviously more convenient to have both eyes done at once. In addition some people find it difficult to function during the time that they have only one eye corrected.
How Do I Know If LASIK Is Right For Me?
The answer to this falls into two categories: medical history and lifestyle implications. Medically your eyes must be in good health and your refractive prescription should be stable. Reduced dependence on corrective eyewear will enhance a very active lifestyle. For people in certain occupations it can also help you to perform better on the job.
Your consultant or doctor will be pleased to provide more detail or answer any other questions you may have.