Q: Am I a candidate for LASIK?
A: This is the first and most common question from those considering LASIK. Some people are not candidates for LASIK for a few reasons, such as the severity or their refractive error or existing eye conditions. We cannot tell you if you are truly a candidate without first coming in for a consultation. The doctor will ask you about your eye health, family history, and consider your refractive error and condition of your cornea.
Q: How long does the procedure actually take?
A: This depends on each person. LASIK surgery at Westlake Eye in Austin generally takes around 15 to 20 minutes, but expect to be at the surgery center for a few hours.
Q: Will the laser hurt?
A: During the procedure, you will have been given an anesthetic and will not be able to feel the laser. After the procedure, you may feel some discomfort in the form of watery, itchy or gritty eyes. This will subside.
Q: How long do results last?
A: LASIK is considered a permanent procedure, however, does not stop the aging of the eye. Age-related eye conditions such as cataracts and presbyopia are still a possibility and can be treated on their own in the typical fashion.
Q: What are the risks?
A: While LASIK at Westlake Eye in Austin is regarded as one of the safest surgical procedures today, it does come with some risks. Experienced LASIK surgeons experience a less than 1% complication rate. These complications are always confined to the quality of vision, and not the loss of vision. Some risks include:
- Decreased night vision
- Under or over-treatment
- Severe dry eye syndrome
- Outcomes not as good in patients with severe refractive error
- Some far-sighted patients may see diminished results with age
Q: What is the difference between PRK and LASIK?
A: PRK today is also known as Advanced Surface Ablation (ASA). Both ASA and LASIK use the same excimer laser to reshape the cornea in the exact same way to help get rid of glasses for distance vision. Most patients will have the same visual outcomes for either procedure. The difference between the two is what takes place before the reshaping, and the healing that is required afterward.
LASIK surgery first creates a thin flap on the surface of the cornea, which is then lifted out of the way before the inner layers are reshaped by the excimer laser. The flap is then repositioned. The flap can be created using a specialized blade, or with a separate type of laser. I have only ever done All-Laser LASIK for my patients, and never use a blade. This reduces the remote but real risk of complications that can occur when using the blade. With LASIK, on the day of surgery, vision is blurry but rapidly improved in the following hours to days. There is also some discomfort on the first day which generally resolves by the next morning.
ASA surgery requires no flap and so avoids any issues with the creation or healing of a flap. Instead, surface cells are moistened and then wiped away, allowing the excimer laser to then reshape the stromal bed beneath the surface layers. The surface cells are then allowed to heal naturally over the next days and weeks. Discomfort during the healing process is prolonged to 3-4 days following the surgery, which is typically a burning or tearing or scratchy feeling. Subsequently, vision heals in more gradually until surface cells organize back into their original position.
Both surgeries can be great choices for most patients.
Q: What should I do before and after the procedure?
A: A comprehensive eye examination will be done at Westlake Eye in Austin or Kyle, TX before the LASIK procedure to ensure that you are a good candidate. One of our Austin, TX ophthalmologists will explain to you what will need to do to prepare. If you are wearing contacts, you will need to remove them prior to your preoperative evaluation. Remove hard or gas permeable lenses 3-6 weeks in advance, and soft lenses 7 days in advance. Following the procedure at Westlake Eye in Austin, you will need someone to drive you home. You have a follow-up appointment the next day, and then designated intervals for the first year.