Doctor – What do you think about laser vision surgery?
Our patients ask us frequently: Doctor, what do you think about laser vision surgery? It is understandable that many patients are confused about the advantages and disadvantages regarding laser vision surgery, because they read and hear numerous commercials promoting “Dr. XYZ as the first and most experienced laser surgeon” and “throw those contact lenses and glasses away forever and come to ABC Laser Center”. Our doctors have been taking care of refractive surgery patients for over fifteen years. We have extensive clinical experience and education in caring for patients that have had RK, AK, PRK, LASIK and many new surgical techniques. We personally work with the most experienced and skilled refractive surgeons in the Midwest. As your doctors, we want to answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this new technology, so that together we can make well informed decisions about your eyesight.
Do you recommend laser vision surgery?
Yes, for some patients. Patients need to have healthy eyes and realistic expectations. What laser vision surgery can do is significantly reduce your dependence on your glasses or contact lenses. You will be able to do normal activities requiring distance vision such as watching TV or working in the yard without the use of a vision device. Current research has shown that a high percentage of patients do achieve 20/30 visual acuity after laser vision surgery. What laser vision surgery may not do is give you vision that is equal to that achieved with glasses or contact lenses. After surgery many patients will still need glasses or contact lenses for precise distance vision such as driving at night. A major complaint after laser vision surgery is halos and glare at night.
I wear bifocal glasses, will laser vision surgery eliminate the need for glasses for near vision?
No, laser vision surgery is designed to correct your distance vision. We suggest that patients obtain a high quality progressive “no line” bifocal to wear for near tasks. Our doctors can prescribe a bifocal lens that will have any distance prescription not corrected by laser vision surgery in the top and the near prescription in the bottom of the lens. Some surgeons use a “monovision” approach with laser vision surgery and put the distance correction in one eye and the reading correction in the other eye. We usually do not recommend this procedure. Our doctors have fit thousands of patients with contact lenses using monovision. We know that the balance between distance and near vision must be precise. Laser vision surgical procedures are not as accurate as a contact lens prescription. In addition, we know that all patients need numerous prescription changes, as they get older to achieve good vision at the computer and for reading. Near prescription changes cannot be made with laser vision surgery.
I am nearsighted (myopic), I can now take my glasses off and read at night. Will I be able to do this if i have laser vision surgery?
Yes and no, up until the time you turn about 40 years old. When you turn 40 you lose the ability to see up close and so when laser vision surgery corrects your distance vision it will also eliminate your ability to see up close without using reading glasses or contact lenses.
Is laser vision surgery safe? What are the risks of this surgical procedure?
Laser vision surgery is a safe surgical procedure if the patient has the proper pre-surgical testing and a skilled experienced laser vision surgeon performs the surgery. But, it is a surgical procedure and complications can occur. The majority of complications are visual in nature, thus optimum vision may not be achieved with the surgery. Remember that laser vision surgery is permanent.
I am seriously considering laser vision surgery. What steps need to be taken so I can have surgery?
Schedule an appointment with our doctors for a pre-refractive surgery examination. A comprehensive vision examination will be done to evaluate your vision and the health of your eyes. You will be dilated during this examination so the doctor can carefully inspect the inside of your eyes. Our doctors must obtain many detailed eye measurements that will be programmed into the refractive surgery computer. As with any computer, “garbage in – garbage out”, so we want to obtain accurate data to provide to the laser vision surgeon. If you wear contact lenses, lens wear must be discontinued for a period of time before the examination and surgery. As a general rule, soft lenses must be removed for a minimum of 2 weeks and rigid lenses 4 to 6 weeks or longer, for an accurate measurement of your vision problem. If you have healthy eyes and we determine that your vision is stable, our office will then schedule a surgery date that is convenient for you.
Can Vision Care Consultants assist me with laser vision surgery?
Yes, our doctors know your eyes, we know you as a person and we can work together to achieve the best surgical result. While laser vision centers want to do surgery on as many patients as possible; we want satisfied patients with good vision and healthy eyes. Our doctors represent you, not the surgical center. We know all the laser vision surgeons, their experience, skill and level of success. Our doctors are familiar with the equipment at each center and if the laser is new or old technology. So, together we can determine the best laser vision surgeon and laser center for your eyes.
How soon will I see after surgery?
Your unaided visual acuity (ability to see without a vision correction) will be significantly improved immediately after surgery. There will small changes in your distance vision for several months after your surgery.
Does laser vision surgery cause pain?
A topical anesthetic (eye drops) will be applied to your eyes before the surgery. You will not feel any pain during the surgical procedure. Most patients notice a small degree of eye irritation or dryness for 24 hours after surgery. You will be given eye drops that will increase your eye comfort.
After surgery, who will provide me with vision care?
Our doctors will provide all post-surgical care. They have had over twenty years experience combined in the care of refractive surgery patients. We monitor the surgical healing of your eyes, prescribe any necessary medications and prescribe any vision device that is needed for maximum visual performance. Patients are normally seen for an office visit one to three days after surgery and then follow up visits are scheduled for two weeks, one month, three months and six months after surgery. Patients are then usually seen on an annual basis to evaluate their vision and eye health. Laser vision surgery does not reduce the incidence of retinal detachment, macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataract and many more ocular diseases that can seriously affect your eyes.
How long will I have to be off work after laser vision surgery?
We suggest three days. You should not be exposed to an unclean environment (i.e. chemicals, dust, dirt) for one week. In addition, severe physical stress should be avoided for several days.
Will my insurance pay for laser vision correction?
A few insurance plans will partially pay for laser vision correction. But, the majority of vision and medical plans consider laser vision correction as cosmetic surgery and will not pay for the procedure. Patients should check with their insurance carrier. Please contact Laurie (our refractive surgery coordinator) or Suzanne (our manager) if you have any further questions regarding laser vision surgery
What is the next step?
We recommend that all our patients research and study the benefits and risks of refractive surgery. If you would like more information, our doctors recommend the following web sites.