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Eye Health Center

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LASIK Eye Surgery and Other Refractive Surgeries

Surgery to Reshape the Cornea

Radial keratotomy (RK) was the first form of refractive surgery used in the U.S. It has been largely replaced by LASIK surgery. A variant of RK -- (limbal relaxing incision or arcuate keratotomy -- may be chosen to correct mild astigmatism. The eye surgeon uses a diamond scalpel to make cuts on the cornea. In RK, these cuts flatten and reshape the cornea. RK weakens the eye's structure over time, resulting in fluctuation in vision and long-term instability, the primary reasons it is seldom done now.

Who Can -- and Cannot -- Have LASIK Surgery or Other Refractive Procedures?

Everyone considering LASIK or another refractive surgery should make the decision only after meeting with a refractive surgeon. General requirements include:

  • Being age 18 or older
  • Having healthy eyes
  • Not needing a change in eyeglass or contact lens prescription over the past three years
  • Having vision that refractive surgery can correct

Most forms of refractive surgery may not be advisable for people who:

  • Have a pre-existing eye disease
  • Take certain prescription drugs known to affect vision or corneal healing
  • Are pregnant or nursing

Always ask your surgeon about the risks of surgery as well as the benefits. That way, you can make a more informed decision. The outcome will be more likely to meet your expectations.

The Cost of LASIK Surgery

Typical costs for laser refractive surgery are between $1,500 and $3,500 per eye. Using wavefront technology or the "laser microkeratome" costs more. Procedures performed in practices where an experienced eye surgeon examines the patient before surgery, performs the surgery, and follows them afterwards are generally more expensive. Price also varies slightly by region.

Be sure your surgeon makes clear what is and is not included in the price you are quoted. Ask, too, if you will have to pay more if you need follow-up visits or treatment for complications.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brian S. Boxer Wachler, MD on November 05, 2013
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