How do I know if I’m a good candidate for LASIK?

Ideal candidates for refractive surgery are those who want to reduce their dependence on glasses and contact lenses. They are over the age of 21, have had no significant change in prescription for 2 years, and have very healthy eyes. A comprehensive eye exam and special measurements must be done to verify ocular health and determine candidacy. A free refractive screening at Relf EyeCare Specialists is a good place to start!

What if I am not a LASIK candidate – are there other refractive options for me?

Yes. Those who are poor candidates for LASIK might be better served by an alternative laser procedure such as PRK, or a non-laser refractive procedure such as clear lens exchange. Our eyecare specialists will guide you through this complex decision-making process, and help you make the best decision for your eyes.

Where do I go for my surgery?

All preoperative assessments, LASIK procedures and postoperative visits are conducted at our clinic on Air Base Road in Hermantown. Contact us with any questions.

How long does the procedure take?

The LASIK procedure takes only 30-40 minutes for both eyes. You will be at our office for 1-1.5 hours and should plan to rest during the evening following your procedure.

Does LASIK hurt?

The eye is numbed with eye drops, therefore you will not feel pain during the procedure. However, a sensation of pressure is common during part of the procedure. During the first few days after the procedure a “gritty” or burning sensation and tearing is common. Most irritating sensations are gone within a few days after surgery.

What if I move or blink during the procedure?

A mild sedative given prior to surgery helps you to relax both during and after your procedure. The surgeon and laser technicians talk to you throughout your procedure, letting you know what to expect. A lid speculum is used to hold your eyelids open and prevents blinking during the procedure. A fixation target keeps your eye aligned and the laser tracks your eye movements and repositions itself to ensure accuracy. It will slow or stop if your eye is not properly aligned.

When can I return to work after LASIK?

Most patients return to work within 2 days; some even go back the day after surgery.

How soon can I drive after LASIK?

You may not drive on the day of your procedure, but you may drive the following day if you feel your eyes are comfortable and you see well.

Will I have both eyes treated at the same time?

Usually both eyes are treated on the same day. Feelings of imbalance are common if one eye is treated and the other is not. If you prefer to have your eyes treated on different days, you may discuss this option with your surgeon.

Why do I have to go without contacts before my examination?

All contact lenses alter the shape of the corneal surface. It takes a while for the cornea’s natural shape to return once contact lens wear is discontinued. It is imperative that we accurately measure the cornea’s natural shape in order to properly treat your refractive error. Failure to do so can result in unexpected and undesirable refractive outcomes. Soft contacts cannot be worn for at least 2 weeks before your procedure. Toric lenses and rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses should not be worn for at least 3 weeks before your procedure. You may wear contact lenses prior to your free refractive screening, but avoid them on the day of your screening. You can expect to be out of your contact lenses a total of 2-3 weeks prior to the procedure.

Will I need glasses or contacts after my surgery?

Almost everyone has improved uncorrected (without glasses) vision following LASIK surgery. There is no guarantee, however, of perfect vision. Most see well enough to pass a driver’s test without glasses. A high percentage have 20/20 vision or better. Many patients’ eyes change as they get older, thus making glasses an eventual necessity for certain tasks. Some patients opt for surgical enhancement of this refractive error down the road.

How about reading glasses?

It is very important that you realize that LASIK does not eliminate the need for reading glasses after the age of 40. This applies to everyone, even you. If you are currently over the age of 40, and enjoying good near vision without the use of glasses, you will sacrifice this ability when you undergo traditional LASIK surgery. If you are in or near this age group, we will discuss this further with you during your evaluation. You may want to consider options such as monovision to lessen your dependence on reading glasses.

What is the success rate of LASIK?

We cannot guarantee that any surgical patient will be completely free of glasses or contact lenses. During a recent large-scale national study conducted by the FDA, patients undergoing custom LASIK surgery for moderate amounts of nearsightedness enjoyed the following results: 100% of participants could see well enough to legally drive a car (20/40 or better) without glasses or contact lenses. 98% of participants achieved uncorrected visual acuity of 20/20 or better; 70% were 20/15 or better. Our results are consistent with these numbers.

What side effects can I expect following LASIK surgery?

All patients experience dry eye symptoms during the first 3 months following their procedure; the frequent use of artificial tears is necessary during this time of healing. On rare occasions, permanent severe dry eye symptoms may result from LASIK surgery.

Glare or halos around lights may interfere with your ability to drive at night or see well in dim light. Your surgeon will discuss your particular risk for these side effects during your evaluation.

We educate our patients about all possible side effects prior to surgery, but not all problems can be anticipated. If unexpected side effects do occur, we manage them to the best of our ability and work with you to obtain the best possible visual outcome.

What can go wrong with LASIK?

LASIK is a remarkably safe procedure. But as with any surgical procedure, there may be complications. Vision-threatening complications are very rare; they include infection and flap-related complications. Keratoconus, a degenerative corneal disease which occurs rarely in the general population (1/2000), may occur more frequently after LASIK. If vision loss is severe, corneal transplantation might be necessary.

We educate our patients about all possible surgical complications, but not all problems can be anticipated or prevented. If complications do occur, we manage them to the best of our ability and work with you to obtain the best possible outcome.

What is the cost of LASIK?

The cost of refractive surgery can vary depending on which procedure you have done (LASIK or PRK). Our refractive team will thoroughly discuss these options with you and the cost of your procedure will be provided in advance. Low-interest financing programs are available through Relf EyeCare Specialists.

Does insurance cover LASIK?

Most insurance plans do not cover LASIK. Check with the human resources department at your workplace, as options may be available for you to use pre-tax savings plans for your LASIK surgery. In most cases, Flex or Health Spending Accounts can be used towards your procedure.