LASIK, or laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, is a type of surgery where an eye doctor called an ophthalmologist reshapes the cornea, the thin, clear, outer layer of your eye. This results in sharper vision without eyeglasses or contacts for about 98% of patients, according to the latest scientific literature review. Here’s what to expect during your first meeting with a LASIK surgeon.
What to Expect at a LASIK Consultation
First, the surgeon should ask you what kind of eyesight improvements you’re hoping to gain.
“A well-done consultation is going to start with an assessment of what they are trying to accomplish by coming in to have their vision fixed,” Lance Kugler, MD, of Kugler Vision in Omaha, NE, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “For example, is there a certain activity that they want to be able to do better?”
Your surgeon will then analyze the shape and thickness of your corneas, also known as the topography, and determine which eye you use more. Jay Bansal, MD, of LaserVue Eye Center in Santa Rosa, CA, says you can also expect the surgeon to:
- Ask you about your medical history.
- Measure your pupil size.
- Check for dry eye disease.
7 Questions You Should Ask
Am I eligible?LASIK isn’t for everybody, including people with “extreme levels of nearsightedness or farsightedness” and others, according to Kugler. Ask your ophthalmologist about other types of vision correction surgeries if LASIK isn’t right for you.
“For people who have diseases, like keratoconus, glaucoma, or some other sort of eye condition where doing a laser isn’t going to be effective, then we wouldn’t recommend it,” Kugler says.
What are the risks?There are some risks that come with LASIK, including eye irritation and night vision issues. However, most symptoms are short-lived and can be managed with additional treatment.
“Although the risks are low for a good LASIK candidate, you should be sure that the risks and benefits are discussed in detail with your surgeon,” says Sharon Richens, MD, FACS, of Richens Eye Center in Mesquite, NV.
What about results?The American Academy of Ophthalmology says that some LASIK patients, like those with extreme vision problems, should be open to “retreatment,” or a second surgery. LASIK also cannot prevent eye aging, but there’s a common misconception that LASIK can “fade,” according to Kugler.
“A hundred percent of human beings need reading glasses after their 40s. That’s often not explained very well when they're having their LASIK done, or if it was explained, people were young and didn’t understand,” Kugler says.
Is it painful?Your surgeon will numb your eyes with anesthetic drops, so during the surgery there should be minimal to no pain. After surgery one can experience light sensitivity, tearing, foreign body sensation or burning sensation. This clears by four hours after surgery. Most patients are given oral preoperative sedation to help them relax. “Your surgeon may prescribe a small dose of Valium to ease surgery-related anxiety,” Bansal says.
What is recovery like? Recovering from LASIK takes one day for most people, experts say. “The only exception to this is contact sports and swimming. You will be on drops for 2 weeks, and you will sleep with goggles over your eyes for several days,” says Yuna Rapoport, MD, MPH, of Manhattan Eye in New York.
Some people need eye drops for the first month afterward, Richens says. According to Kugler, you can’t drive right after you get LASIK, so you’ll want to schedule a ride home with a friend or family member or a car service.
What about cost? LASIK fees vary across the country due to variable cost of living and what technology the surgeon recommends. The national average is around $4,200 for both eyes.
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