Lasik eye surgery is a great way to correct vision and to reduce your dependency on glasses and contacts. However, there are a number of things you need to know before you go in for this procedure so that you make the right decision. Here are 7 things you should know before you get Lasik eye surgery.
Your Eye Doctor May Not Be Able to Do the Procedure
You may love your eye doctor, but only an ophthalmologist is allowed to perform a procedure like this. (The average optometrist can't perform surgery.) And not all ophthalmologists are trained to do Lasik surgeries. This is even true if the eye doctor is a surgeon. For example, some eye doctors handle emergency cases like the dart to the eye or perform pediatric lazy eye surgeries in surgical centers but aren't able to perform Lasik surgeries.
There are also conditions that preclude someone having Lasik eye surgery. If you have an active autoimmune disorder like rheumatoid arthritis, most doctors will recommend against the procedure.
It Costs Less Than It Did a Few Years Ago
A major issue for the public is the fact that medical costs have been rising at several times the rate of inflation for more than twenty years. However, this same trend hasn't affected areas where the public has had to shop around for optional procedures like cosmetic surgery and Lasik surgery. This means that the cost of Lasik eye surgery is lower now than it was a few years ago. Note that if you have the surgery done on each eye separately, the cost of Lasik eye surgery will be different then having both eyes done at the same time.
There Are Two Types of Lasik Surgery
Lasik surgery can be flap or flapless. The flap surgery involves cutting a flap in the patient's cornea. The laser is used to restructure the cornea. The flap is then put back to complete the surgery. This method is preferred because of its faster recovery time. With flapless Lasik, the cornea isn't cut. Instead, the epithelial layer is cut. The laser then cuts the cornea.
This procedure results in eye irritation for a few more days than flap Lasik surgery. It remains popular, though, because nearly all complications in Lasik surgery are associated with the flap. If there is no flap, then there's almost no chance of complications like tearing, wrinkling or infection. Note that your health can also affect the decision. For example, if you have a weak cornea, you should go for flapless Lasik surgery.
It Doesn't Fix Everything
As we age, the odds that we need reading glasses goes up. If you have Lasik surgery now, you may still need reading glasses in a few years. This is particularly true if you had Lasik before you were 40, since nearly everyone starts needing reading glasses between 40 and 50.
There are cases when you will need reading glasses after the procedure, since it tends to fix difficulties in seeing far off. In fact, you'll probably want to hold onto your existing reading glasses until a few days after the procedure. This is especially true if you had bifocals to correct for both near and far vision, since Lasik is particularly designed for correcting distance vision.
Lasik surgery doesn't treat conditions like glaucoma or lazy eye. This means you could have Lasik surgery for deteriorating distance vision only to be told your floaters or blurred vision later needs to be corrected by a different procedure. And Lasik doesn't always resolve astigmatism. Lasik surgery does not repair cataracts, and you'll typically be avoided not to have Lasik if you have cataracts now.
You Could Have Lasik Twice
You can have Lasik done twice by choice, such as when you want one eye treated before you have the other done. Another issue to consider is the fact that you could have Lasik done a second time, such as correcting for your new need for reading glasses due to age. This is why many eye doctors suggest not having Lasik surgery until after you're 25, while it is universally recommended to wait until you're over 18. The more important factor, though, is that your vision has been stable for at least two years. If you've had changes in your eye glasses prescription within the past two years, you are not a good candidate for Lasik because of the odds you'd need a second surgery or glasses in only a few years.
There are occasions where the doctor under-corrected for vision problems; you may choose to wear a weaker eye glasses prescription than before or have a second Lasik procedure to correct the first.
It is also possible to have two different procedures done, one on each eye. Monovision refers to Lasik done on each eye, altering one to let you see far away clearly while the other is corrected to eliminate your need for reading glasses. When you have this procedure done, it can take your brain several weeks to adjust.
The Surgery Does Come with Risks
A common problem after Lasik surgery is dry eye syndrome. This will probably go away on its own, but there is a chance you'll have to use lubricating prescription eye drops long term in order to avoid complications that threatens your vision. If you have severe dry eye now, you may be told not to have the procedure done.
A less common problem is temporary loss of vision, but a minority of patients reports a halo effect when driving that lasts far longer than the light sensitivity many patients have for the first few days. This is why many Lasik doctors suggest not driving for at least a few days after the procedure. In the worst-case scenario, the patient is left with glare and halos that make it difficult to see at night. Double vision also occurs sometimes.
Pain, fortunately, is not a complication you have to worry about. The surgery itself doesn't hurt, though you may feel some pressure. You'll probably be awake while it is done. Don't worry about keeping your eyes still, since most Lasik providers have a laser to track your eye and work correctly even if you glance in another direction. In this regard, you don't have to worry about complications because you blinked or didn't keep your eyes locked on one particular spot.
You'll Have to Ditch Contacts Even If You Want/Need Them
If you're wearing contacts to correct your vision, you'll have to stop wearing them a few days before your eyes are tested to determine if Lasik is an option for you, since contacts slightly alter the shape of your eye. You'll have to avoid wearing contacts for up to two weeks before the procedure itself. You'll also have to forgo contacts for a few weeks after the procedure whether you're wearing them to alter your eye color or to correct for nearsightedness.
You'll also need to wear night-time eye protection for four to six weeks after the procedure. These protective eye shields prevent you from sleepily rubbing, scratching or bumping your eye. This is important regardless of which type of Lasik eye surgery you had, but it is critical if you had flap Lasik surgery.
Now that you're more informed about Lasik procedures, you can start looking for a doctor that will be able to assess your condition and see if you're a viable candidate.