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Life Without Glasses

Dr. Robert Maloney believes that a well-informed patient is key to successful vision correction surgery. He wants to be sure that you fully understand what you can expect from your procedure you choose.

He wants to help you care for and preserve your eyesight in the best way possible. Here, you can find the information that you need to help you make informed choices about health care for your eyes.

Frequently Asked Questions about LASIK

LASIK surgeons are accustomed to having patients ask many questions. An important part of our role is to educate you. Here are some of the questions I’m asked most often.

Is LASIK painful?

No. Before the procedure begins, your eye is numbed with eyedrops. You may feel a mild sensation of pressure as the corneal flap is being made, but the procedure will not hurt at all. After the surgery, any discomfort you experience will typically last only a few hours. Sleep and lubricating eyedrops, as well as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, are usually enough to take care of any discomfort. At my center, we also offer you a sleeping pill to allow you to sleep through any discomfort.

How long does the LASIK procedure take?

Most patients are pleasantly surprised at how quickly LASIK is performed. Expect an experienced surgeon to complete the procedure in five to six minutes per eye.

How long will it take for my eyes to heal?

The healing process is remarkably fast, with few associated side effects. Postoperative discomfort is quite minor. You may notice a burning or gritty sensation and watery eyes for up to six hours after surgery. Your eyes may feel irritated on and off for a week or two. Lubricating eyedrops alleviate this irritation. In terms of vision, more than 90 percent of my patients see 20/20 or better the day after surgery.

What happens if my vision isn’t clear enough after LASIK?

Even in the hands of a skilled surgeon, each person’s eyes respond differently to the excimer laser, both during the surgery and while healing. Not everyone gets perfect vision. About 5 percent of LASIK patients find their vision isn’t as clear as they hoped. In this situation I will usually recommend an enhancement procedure. For an enhancement procedure, the surgeon gently lifts the preexisting flap and performs a small additional laser treatment. Recovery time is similar to that of the original procedure. If you do need an enhancement procedure, you must wait for your eye to stabilize. We typically do enhancements three months after the original procedure. An enhancement procedure can also be done years later if your eyesight changes over time.

How long will the correction last?

Once your eyes have stabilized, usually in three months or less, your vision correction is permanent. Unless you had a monovision correction, you will eventually need eyeglasses for reading as you age, just like everyone else with good vision.

Although LASIK doesn’t wear off, your vision can change during your lifetime. LASIK doesn’t prevent your eyes from changing if they would have changed anyway. If your vision does change when you are older, an enhancement procedure can usually be done to restore excellent vision without glasses.

Will I be able to drive immediately after LASIK?

You can’t drive the day of surgery because you will have blurry vision and may have taken a sedative. By the next morning, however, almost everyone can drive safely. You should use your own good judgment before you start driving again.

When can I go back to work?

Most people return to work the day after LASIK. I’ve even had patients work a night shift after their afternoon LASIK procedure. If you work in a very dusty environment, such as a construction site, wait a couple of days before going back to work.

Although most patients can function normally at work the day after surgery, your vision may still be somewhat blurry and your eyes may be occasionally irritated, so we recommend that you not schedule any critical appointments or meetings for that day.

If I have dry eyes, will it affect my LASIK surgery?

That depends. Many people have LASIK because they have mild dry eyes and cannot wear contact lenses comfortably. These patients are delighted to have good vision without the irritation of contacts. On the other hand, if you have moderate or severe dry eyes, LASIK may not be a good idea. Part of your comprehensive preoperative exam will be to evaluate your eyes for dryness and alert you if there are any abnormalities found. Sometimes dry eyes can be treated preoperatively and you can still have successful LASIK.

If I’ve had previous eye surgery, am I still a candidate for LASIK?

Often, people who have had previous eye surgery are candidates for LASIK. However, these can be more difficult surgeries and have less predictable results. For example, LASIK has been used following an older form of refractive surgery, radial keratotomy (RK). With RK, the cornea is flattened by making small, spokelike incisions around its periphery to correct myopia and astigmatism. LASIK following RK can succeed so long as the patient’s vision is relatively stable and there is not significant corneal scarring in the incisions.

If I have thin corneas, am I still a candidate for LASIK?

Often, yes, depending on your degree of correction. If your cornea is thin, removing the amount of tissue necessary to treat a high degree of myopia may weaken your cornea. The surgeon will calculate the amount of tissue to be removed. If too much tissue will need to be removed, to ensure your cornea is not weakened the surgeon should recommend PRK or an implantable contact lens instead.

Can I wear contact lenses after surgery, if needed?

After surgery, if you still need correction in one or both eyes, you may elect to wear contact lenses. If you tolerated the contacts before LASIK, it is likely you will tolerate them afterward. In practice, though, rather than returning you to contact lens wear, your surgeon should recommend an enhancement to sharpen your vision.

Could the surgery cause problems years from now?

Unknown complications years down the road are very unlikely. LASIK is a form of lamellar refractive surgery, a type of surgery that has been performed since 1949. People who have undergone earlier types of lamellar refractive surgery—much less accurate and more invasive than LASIK—have not developed unexpected problems during the past fifty years.

Will having LASIK prevent eye diseases?

No. LASIK does not prevent cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, macular degeneration, or any other eye disease. That is why it is important to still have regular eye checkups after LASIK, even if your vision is perfect. If you are diagnosed with a disease in the future, LASIK will not affect its treatment.

Should I have surgery on both eyes at the same time?

Some patients choose to have one eye treated at a time because they worry, “What if something goes wrong?” These patients can have the other eye done as soon as the next day. Most patients do both eyes on the same day. I am extremely confident about the safety of LASIK. No one in my practice has lost vision in either one or both eyes from the procedure. Having both eyes done together avoids making two trips to the surgery center and speeds the recovery. Correcting the eyes on separate days leaves you with an interim period of imbalanced vision during which only one eye is corrected. In the end, the choice is yours, and you should feel no pressure to do it one way or the other.

Should I wait for the next generation of LASIK treatment?

LASIK is a fairly stable technology now, with advances happening incrementally. In general, we are all aging faster than LASIK is getting better. With the all-laser wavefront-guided technology now available, waiting longer doesn’t make much sense.

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