Frequently Asked Questions About Laser Eye Surgery
Following is a list of some of the frequently asked questions our Seattle LASIK and Pacific Northwest laser eye surgery patients and prospective patients have for us. Please feel free to contact us for additional information or for answers to other questions.
Q: What is Wavefront treatment?
A: Wavefront is a laser treatment developed to make the LASIK procedure even more effective. Wavefront allows for a complete, personalized measurement of the entire visual system, including the eye's shape, lens shape, corneal shape, depth of the eye, and the most accurate identification possible of anatomic anomalies that could cause vision conditions such as impaired night vision or presence of halos. Thanks to wavefront, a highly accurate, FDA-approved laser can correct all or most vision problems with one treatment, whereas traditional LASIK is more limited in the number of errors it can simultaneously correct. If you live in Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; Spokane, Washington; Billings, Montana, Alaska or anywhere in the Pacific Northwest and are interested in learning more about wavefront LASIK laser eye surgery, contact us today.
Q: Is every eyecare facility able to perform Wavefront?
A: No. Not all centers are equipped to offer Wavefront technology. Since Restore Vision Centers uses the latest technology, we, along with the University of Washington, were the first in the Pacific Northwest to offer this advancement. Today, Restore Vision Centers is among the most experienced in the Pacific Northwest in utilizing wavefront technology for laser eye surgery.
Q: Why is the Wavefront procedure more expensive than others?
A: Performing Wavefront diagnostics requires a significant financial investment in equipment and technology. In order for an eyecare facility to upgrade to wavefront ability, it has to both carry the laser and have experience with it. Additionally, each time the technology is used, Restore Vision Centers must pay a royalty to the manufacturer, as well as devote additional doctor and technician time to the necessary testing.
Q: What is IntraLase and how does it work?
A: The IntraLase Method is a 100% blade-free approach to creating your corneal flap — the thin flap of tissue that the doctor folds back in order to perform your LASIK procedure. Tiny pulses of laser light pass harmlessly through the outer portion of your cornea and form a uniform layer of microscopic bubbles just beneath the surface of your eye. Just prior to LASIK surgery, the doctor can lift the corneal flap by gently and easily separating the tissue where these bubbles have formed. The only other way to create a corneal flap is by using an instrument called a microkeratome. A microkeratome is a hand-held steel blade that makes a cut as it travels across the cornea. With the IntraLase Method, a blade never touches your eye.
Q: What is iLASIK and how does it work?
A: The combination of CustomVue Wavefront and IntraLase blade-free LASIK, the iLASIK procedure is one of the most precise medical procedures performed today. The iLASIK Method uses two computer-guided lasers — instead of one as in earlier generations of LASIK. The first, ultra-fast laser creates a thin corneal flap, which is then folded back to allow the second laser to correct your vision based on the exact specification/measurements of your eye(s). The procedure takes just minutes. Patients experience a quick, virtually painless procedure with the potential of 20/20 or better vision and outstanding safety as a result of reduced flap complications. It is these technological advances used in the iLASIK procedure that convinced the military and NASA that iLASIK was good enough for their mission-critical personnel.
Q: What is Iris Registration?
A: Exclusive to the VISX laser, IR provides the most precise laser alignment accuracy to date, resulting in safer and more accurate surgical procedures, and even better outcomes.
Used only in combination with wavefront treatment, IR is a fully automated, no-touch technology that allows us to create a “fingerprint” of your iris with microscopic detail and precision. As part of your pre-surgical examination, we use Wavescan diagnostics to look at the tissues (cornea, lens, and retina) that impact the way light moves through your eye. During your surgery, IR creates a very detailed image of your iris, making it possible to align our laser perfectly to your eye during surgery. Since no two irises are the same, IR also ensures that the correct prescription is matched to the correct patient. No other technology offers this assurance.
IR is an option for wavefront patients only. Although most wavefront patients qualify for IR, some do not. If you do qualify, you will be provided IR at no additional cost.
Q: Is LASIK painful?
A: LASIK laser eye surgery is a virtually pain-free procedure because the cornea and eye are anesthetized by drops. Some patients experience a scratchy feeling or some pressure, but most report virtually no pain. The amount of discomfort patients experience after the anesthetic wears off varies with each individual, but with LASIK laser eye surgery, most irritation usually disappears within a few hours. However, you may be sensitive to light for a few days.
In the case of PRK, also performed with anesthetic drops, you may experience some discomfort as the cornea heals over the next three to seven days.
Q: When will I be able to return to work?
A: LASIK laser eye surgery will only minimally interfere with your daily life. Most people can return to work on the day following surgery, but a good rule of thumb is to wait until you feel up to it. Most patients resume normal activities the day after laser eye surgery, including driving.
Q: What are the side effects?
A: The most common side effects of the laser eye surgery are a halo effect and some glare at night around lights. These diminish within a few days or weeks and are usually no worse than the glare associated with wearing contacts or glasses. These traditional complaints have been greatly minimized with the advanced features of the VISK Star 4 laser. Dryness of the eyes is also common in the initial period following surgery, but can usually be alleviated quickly and easily with artificial tears.
Q: How long does the treatment take?
A: Laser treatment itself takes only about 15 to 40 seconds, based on the degree of correction necessary. The entire procedure is usually over in eight to ten minutes. Recovery is minimal, and usually, the laser eye surgery patient is able to be driven home after about 30 minutes. Typically, you will quickly notice dramatically improved sight.
Q: Is the treatment permanent?
A: In the twenty years these laser eye surgery procedures have been available, they have proven to be effective and stable in the long term. Because this treatment reshapes the cornea, this is a permanent correction.
Q: What is considered a successful laser eye surgery?
A: Generally, success in refractive surgery means achieving uncorrected visual acuity of 20/40 or better. With the newer technology, however, this standard has been greatly refined. With your new eyesight, you will almost certainly be able to drive your car and engage in most, if not all, of your normal activities without any additional correction. We strive for 20/20 vision and usually achieve this correction or better. However, it is not possible to guarantee everyone will enjoy this level of clarity after laser eye surgery. Your outcome will depend upon many factors, and we will be glad to discuss our individual expectations for you at your initial examination.
Q: Are there any activity restrictions following surgery?
A: LASIK and PRK have very little impact on your lifestyle. Activity restrictions are generally short-term. Immediately following laser eye surgery, there are a number of things you should refrain from doing. Do not rub your eyes. Wear good quality sunglasses. No eyeliner or mascara may be used for two weeks following the procedure. Swimming, pools, hot tubs, racquet sports and tanning booths should be avoided for a period of time. Wear protective eyewear for yard work.
Q: What if I move my head during laser eye surgery?
A: In tens of thousands of surgeries at Restore Vision Centers, there has been no instance of a problem due to a patient moving his head during the procedure. This is even less of a concern since the VISX Star 4 laser has 3-D eye tracking capabilities, which track the eye's movement. During laser eye surgery, you will be asked to focus on a beam of light. The vast majority of patients have no difficulty maintaining this focus because it is not a bright, glaring type of light, and there is no discomfort. If the patient has difficulty with this, the eye tracker follows any eye movements, and the laser eye surgeon can also manually align the beam to the corneal "target", which will enable accurate correction.
Q: What if I wear contact lenses?
A: Contact lenses can "warp" the corneal surface, which can change the corneal curvature and lead to an incorrect measurement of your refraction. In order to properly calculate the treatment to correct your refractive error, you will have to stop wearing contact lenses at some stage prior to your examination and laser eye surgery. The time period depends on the type of lens that you use and the length of time you have used them. Please remove your contact lenses prior to your initial pre-operative evaluation examination as follows:
Soft or toric contact lenses may not be worn for one week prior to the pre-operative examination and two consecutive weeks prior to surgery.
Gas Permeable or PMMA (hard contacts) lenses may not be worn for four weeks plus one additional week for each decade of wear prior to the pre-operative exam and surgery. Do not wear them at any time prior to your examination or surgery.
Q: How can I be confident that I won't have any complications following the procedure?
A: No one can guarantee perfect results from the procedure. You will be carefully evaluated by our physicians prior to your procedure and given specific instructions to prepare for the laser eye surgery and aftercare. Our center determines more potential patients to be non-candidates than any center we are aware of, helping to ensure as much safety for your procedure as possible. Results are also your personal responsibility. If you follow your pre-operative and post-operative care instructions, you should, with the surgeon's help, achieve great results.
Q: What range of prescriptions can be corrected?
A: Our VISX Star 4 laser affords the widest range of treatment available in the United States. This encompasses nearly everyone. If you are outside our treatment parameters, this will be determined during your initial evaluation and your deposit may be refunded. Please visit our Technology page for more information about the VISX Star 4 laser.
Q: If I wear bifocals, can I still be corrected?
A: Yes, but the need for bifocals is partly due to difficulty reading as you age and as your lenses lose elasticity. This condition is called presbyopia and happens to virtually everyone between forty and fifty years of age. LASIK laser eye surgery can eliminate the need for bifocals, but you will still most likely require reading glasses.
Q: What is monovision?
A: Monovision is when one eye is corrected fully for distance vision and one is treated only partially to make the eye focus at reading distance. To choose this treatment, prior to the surgery patients must have tried contacts or glasses that accomplish this type of correction to ensure that they desire it.
Q: Will I need to use drops or perform any other special care after the procedure and for how long?
A: Medicated eye drops will be necessary for approximately one week after surgery. Lubricating drops may be needed for a few weeks to a couple of months after laser eye surgery. PRK patients will need to use eye drops at a decreasing rate for approximately three to six months. The length of time you will need to use eye drops will also depend on your individual healing response.
Q: Have there been any long-term studies about the results of LASIK and any possible complications?
A: LASIK has been performed for over twenty years and corneal flap formation for over thirty years. There are no studies that have followed these procedures beyond this time frame. However, numerous studies have shown LASIK laser eye surgery to be the safest and most stable elective surgical procedure in medicine.
Q: Which laser machine do you use?
A: We have chosen to use the VISX Star 4. This laser has the longest history, the most FDA approvals, the best outcomes in FDA studies, and the greatest number of studies attached to it. The VISX Star 4 incorporates all of the latest technology, including an expanded treatment zone, eye tracking, blend zones, and variable spot technology. Some of the most important and unique characteristics of the VISX laser are that it offers the quickest treatment time, with the least tissue removal, and the smoothest finish on the cornea of any laser available today. That is why over 70% of U.S. surgeons choose the VISX laser and ours is the latest generation of this technology. By far, most famous athletes, politicians, and celebrities have had their procedures performed with excimer lasers identical to those offered at Restore Vision Centers.
Q: Is there any chance my insurance company will reimburse me?
A: Some insurance companies do offer laser vision benefits, and we work hard to keep up on what insurances help with the cost. We will be happy to check for you. Simply call one of our Refractive Counselors toll-free at 1-877-508-2020. If you desire to check your own insurance, note that coverage is often under medical benefits rather than vision.
Q: Is this a wise choice and a safe procedure for me?
A: Outcomes of LASIK and PRK have been so successful that most qualifying members of our staff have had laser eye surgery. As the leading provider of this service, our centers have ten of thousands of cases of experience, and we look forward to demonstrating why more people choose Restore Vision Centers than any other refractive surgery center in the Pacific Northwest for their laser vision correction. If there is anything we can do to assist you in the preparation of your appointment, please let us know.
Q: As a potential patient, what questions should I ask other centers?
- Who is the laser eye surgeon and how many LASIK/PRK procedures has he or she done to date? We recommend you choose a laser eye surgeon who specializes in refractive surgery and has performed thousands of procedures.
- What laser will be used for your surgery? Some centers still use older lasers and technology that will not give you the best opportunity to achieve the outcome you are seeking.
- What are the clinic’s outcome statistics?
- What kind of post-operative care will you receive? How many visits and over what time frame? Are they included in the price? What if additional visits are necessary?
- Can you do your pre- and post-operative care with an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist in your area? Are there extra charges associated with this convenience?
- What is the surgeon's enhancement rate? The national average is 10-12% (RVC is at approximately 4-6%).
- Does the clinic specialize only in the LASIK/PRK procedure, or do they also provide other ophthalmic services? A center that specializes in refractive surgery will tend to have newer technology and a specially trained staff.
- What is the pricing structure? Does the center advertise an unusually low price? If so, more than likely they have a "tiered" pricing structure. When you come in expecting one price, your end cost will be influenced by your prescription, as well as the laser used.
Finally, the most important advice we can give you is to make sure you feel comfortable and confident with your provider. Ask as many questions as it takes! If you feel you are not getting a straight answer, challenge the answer and ask another center.
If we can help you further, please call us toll-free at 1-877-508-2020. We are confident that the more questions you ask, the more likely it will be that you will choose Restore Vision Centers. We are committed to your visual health and we make that clear in our interactions with each of our laser eye surgery patients. We look forward to demonstrating that commitment to you.
If you live in Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; Spokane, Washington; Billings, Montana, Alaska or anywhere in the Pacific Northwest and are interested in learning more about LASIK and other types of laser eye surgery, please contact Restore Vision Centers with additional questions or to schedule a consultation!
Restore Vision Centers - providing wavefront LASIK and other types of laser eye surgery to patients from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Montana.