Laser Vision Correction FAQs

What is laser vision correction?

It is an outpatient treatment that uses a cool beam of light to gently reshape the cornea - the surface of the eye - to improve vision. The light gently pulses to remove a microscopic amount of tissue, flattening the curvature of the cornea, allowing images to become more sharply focused on the retina - the back of the eye.

Laser surgery has been approved by the FDA for use in treating nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. This approval means that the FDA has recognized that laser vision correction is a safe and effective procedure.

What are the benefits of laser vision correction?

Laser vision correction for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism is designed to be a one-time treatment that should reduce the condition overall, while also reducing or eliminating your dependence on glasses and contact lenses.

What is the difference between RK, PRK, and LASIK?

You may have heard about PRK, which stands for Photorefractive Keratectomy. PRK and LASIK (Laser in-situ Keratomileusis) both utilize a Laser System to remove corneal tissue in order to flatten the cornea. In PRK, the laser works on the surface of the cornea. With LASIK, we first create a flap on the cornea and then use the laser for treatment below the corneal surface. RK (Radial Keratotomy) is a non-laser procedure where we use a knife to make a series of radial cuts into the corneal surface. These cuts are intended to produce a bulging effect in order to flatten the corneal surface. Both PRK and LASIK have now been approved by the FDA. Because of increased patient comfort, less chance of haze, and faster recovery times, most of our patients choose LASIK.

Is laser vision correction safe?

Yes. Over four million patients worldwide have had this treatment performed on them successfully. The FDA has recognized laser vision correction for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, and found the treatment safe and effective for eligible patients.

Does laser vision correction hurt?

No. The treatment itself is painless. Some patients may experience discomfort for one to three days after treatment. Many patients compare this to a sensation of sand in the eye. We can prescribe pain medication to alleviate discomfort during the recovery.

Are there any risks?

There are risks with any procedure. However, because laser vision correction uses a cool beam of light that is computer controlled, there is little room for error. In a recent study, all patients experienced better uncorrected vision following laser vision correction.

What is nearsightedness?

The normal eye is a perfect sphere, where the cornea and lens focus light to form an image on the back of the interior surface of the eye, known as the retina. With nearsightedness, the cornea's curvature is too steep for the shape of the eye. The light is focused in front of the retina, causing images of distant objects to appear blurry.

What is farsightedness?

In farsightedness, the image focuses beyond the retina. In our youth, the innate accommodating (focusing) power of the eye often compensates for farsightedness. But as we age, our eyes become less able to accommodate. For this reason, farsightedness most commonly becomes a problem later in life. Many farsighted eyes do not need correction until the individuals reach their forties or fifties.

Farsightedness can be corrected by any method that increases the total refractive power of the eye. Eyeglasses and contact lenses do this by putting in front of the eye "positive" lenses that are thicker in the center than at the edge. PRK does it by making the central part of the cornea more steeply curved.

What is astigmatism?

The front of the astigmatic eye has an irregular shape, more oval than spherical, like a football. Incoming light focuses at multiple points instead of one. Astigmatism can make wearing contact lenses difficult or even impossible. Laser vision correction with an excimer laser is now an option for people with astigmatism who want clear, comfortable vision.

How does laser vision correction improve these different conditions?

The cool beam of light gently reshapes the surface of the cornea, making it more like a normal eye. Light can then focus at the back of the eye, on the retina, making images on the retina clear, thereby improving your vision.

What should I do before having laser vision correction?

Have a complete eye exam and discuss the benefits and risks of laser vision correction with us. Make sure you read the materials in your patient education packet and have us answer any and all questions you may have.

Do I have to wait for my regular eye exam?

No. You can have laser vision correction as soon as you're ready and eligible to do it. You can ask us about laser vision correction at any time.

What happens before the treatment?

We will conduct a thorough examination to determine whether your eyes are healthy and suitable for the laser procedure. You eye will be photographed and a computerized map made, called corneal topography. This will assess the shape of your cornea, and is one of the many diagnostic tests that we use to help ensure precise results.

What can I expect on the day of treatment?

This is an outpatient procedure. The laser treatment takes less than one minute for most patients. The entire procedure usually takes fifteen minutes, and your visit should be complete in less than an hour.

First, you will relax in a reclining chair. We will then place anesthetic drops in your eye and position your head under the laser. We will place a retainer to gently and comfortably hold your eyelids open during treatment.

The treatment begins when you focus on a blinking light. Microscopic amounts of tissue, less than the thickness of a human hair, will then be removed from your cornea by the gently pulsing light. Afterwards, some drops or ointment will be placed in your eye for your protection and comfort.

You'll visit us for follow-up exams periodically during the first year.

How well will I see after laser vision correction?

Results vary with each individual. In a recent study, 98% of patients treated for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism with an excimer laser saw well enough to pass a driver's test without glasses. Your vision should be improved immediately after treatment. Some patients may experience small vision changes during the first several months, which is a normal occurrence.

How soon can I return to work?

Many people go back the day after treatment.

How do I know if I can have laser vision correction?

We can tell you if laser vision correction is right for you. Schedule a free consultation with our patient care coordinator to discuss your eligibility. Some general guidelines are:

  • You must have healthy eyes and be at least 18 years old for nearsightedness or farsightedness, and at least 21 years old for astigmatism.
  • Your vision must be stable for at least one year before the laser procedure.
  • You are not a good candidate if you have degenerative or autoimmune diseases, or if you're pregnant or nursing, or if you have a condition that makes healing difficult.

How much will it cost?

This depends on your particular vision. There are different types of laser correction procedures available, and not all of them may be right for you. Therefore, we cannot give you a reliable estimate of the cost until your free consultation with the inpatient care coordinator.

Consider the laser vision correction as cost-effective, compared to what you would have to spend on glasses, contact lenses, and lens care over the course of twenty years. The difference is you'll have clear, natural vision and reduced or eliminated your dependence on glasses and contact lenses.

What is included in the cost of the procedure?

Our laser surgery procedure prices include all costs associated with your care and treatment. There are no hidden costs. Our procedure prices include the following services: a comprehensive evaluation of your eyes, the laser procedure itself, post-operative care for a year, and enhancements (if necessary) during the first year.

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