LASIK Questions - FAQs
What is LASIK?
stands for laser in-situ keratomileusis. It is capable of correcting a
wide range of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. The
procedure uses a computer-controlled excimer laser to reshape the cornea
to correct your vision. The laser reshaping is done under a protective
flap of tissue to promote a very rapid recovery of vision and minimize
How long has LASIK been performed?
The excimer laser has been used for over
15 years and received FDA approval in 1998. Eye surgeons have been
creating a protective flap of tissue for over 30 years. These two
techniques were first combined in 1991 to create a new form of
refractive surgery known as LASIK. The Doctors at Wake Forest Baptist Health Eye Center are leaders in LASIK
surgery, and have a combined experience of 30 years performing LASIK. To schedule a
consultation, or ask more LASIK questions, contact our office at 336-716-4091
How does LASIK correct astigmatism?
Astigmatism is most accurately corrected
using a laser with software that is capable of ablating an oval pattern
on the cornea. The Allegretto Wavelight laser is simply the best when it
comes to correcting all levels of astigmatism. It truly will do better
than your glasses, which cause optical distortions such as “curvy doorways”
or toric soft contact lenses, which move and blur with each blink.
Who does this surgery?
One of our highly skilled doctors will perform the surgery. Although
the Wake Forest Baptist Health Eye Center is a teaching facility with residents
and medical students, we do not teach residents or students LASIK.
How do I know if I am a candidate for LASIK?
Patient inclusion criteria for LASIK investigation:
- Up to 12.00 D myopia
- Up to 5.00 D hyperopia
- 6.0 D or less of astigmatism
- Minimum age: 18
- Maximum age: 65
- No systemic disease affecting outcome
- Realistic expectations
To find out if LASIK surgery is the best option for you, or if you have more LASIK questions, schedule a consultation with Dr. Walter, Dr. Giegengack or Dr. Patel through our website, or simply call our office at 336-716-4091.
If you have more LASIK questions regarding consultations or our fee screenings, please call 336-716-4091 during regular office hours.
What is done at a LASIK consultation?
A complete dilated eye examination and
specialized computer measurement of the shape of your cornea is
performed. Your doctor examines your eyes and reviews this information in
light of your visual needs for work and leisure, then provides you with
options and recommendations for refractive surgery.
In order for your cornea to return to its
natural shape by the time of this examination, you must leave your soft
contact lenses out for one week and gas permeable (hard) lenses out for two
weeks prior to your consultation.
The cost is $150.
Do I need to bring my old records?
No. Just remember to bring your old glasses or CTL bottles or foils.
Can I get a new prescription for contact lenses?
During your consultation, the
ophthalmologist will provide you with a current prescription for
spectacles if you request but NOT FOR CONTACT LENSES. If you decide on
contact lenses, then you must see our contact lens fitters on a
separate day. There will be a charge for contact lens fitting. The
charge for your glasses prescription is $30.
How long does the procedure take?
About five minutes per eye.
Does it hurt?
No. Anesthetic drops allow the operation
to be performed without pain. Afterwards the eye is a bit scratchy, but
patients typically do not require any pain medications (not even
Tylenol) and are often able return to work the day after the
What if I blink or move during surgery?
A tiny wire spring keeps you from
blinking and a pupil tracker follows your pupil to ensure the proper
delivery of the laser pulses.
I’m a very nervous person. Are you sure I can get through LASIK?
Yes. We specialize in dealing with
anxious patients, and so far we have been able to get every patient
through surgery without a problem. You will get a drug called Ativan
that is taken by mouth and will totally relax you. Your doctor will talk
you through the surgery, so there will be no surprises. We have nurses who can hold your hand, or you can even bring in a loved one to hold
What are the restrictions following surgery?
You must wear a protective shield the
first night following surgery. You should not swim or get water in your
eye for one week after surgery, although bathing and showering are fine.
All other activities, including exercise, may be resumed on the first
day following surgery. No sweating!
When can I go back to work?
The day after the procedure, as your vision permits.
Can the procedure be performed on both eyes at once?
Yes. Most patients choose this option, as
it is far more convenient. As part of our initial investigation at
Emory, we studied the results in patients who had one or both eyes done
together. The outcomes were the same, and most patients found it more
convenient to have both eyes operated on at the same time.
Theoretically, having both eyes undergo
surgery at the same time has the disadvantage of exposing both to the
risks of surgery. Fortunately, the risk of significant complications is
Patients may choose to have surgery performed on both eyes the
same day, or they may have the procedures separated by a week or more.
Do I need a driver on the day of surgery?
Yes. You will be lightly sedated and fuzzy until after your nap.
What should I do right after surgery?
Go home and take a long nap. Usually the
sedative you get before surgery will help you accomplish this. This nap
helps your vision recover quickly by keeping it moist and protected. You
will be given tiny eye shields or goggles to keep you from rubbing your
eyes while you sleep. There is no pain or even scratchiness after your
nap, so you can go out to dinner or watch TV. Enjoy your new eyes!
How long is follow-up needed?
checks are required at one day, two weeks, three months and 12 months. These
examinations are included in the charge for the procedure.
What are my chances of not wearing glasses after the procedure?
This will depend on a number of factors,
including your refractive error, your visual needs and even your
personality. Almost 100% of patients can see well enough afterward to
never require glasses for distance vision.
It is important to understand that LASIK does not eliminate the need for reading glasses as one grows older.
When will my vision stabilize?
The miracle of Wavelight-guided LASIK is
the quick return of vision, again usually that same day after your first
nap. LASIK typically stabilizes very quickly. Our results thus far
indicate that there is little or no change after the two week
postoperative examination. Patients with large amounts of astigmatism or
nearsightedness may take up to six weeks to stabilize.
What is the percent of patients that need enhancements?
Based on our experience so far, you have
about a 5% chance of benefitting from an enhancement treatment, which is
performed at no charge after the three month examination and up to one year
following. The likelihood of needing an enhancement is dependent on the
degree of refractive error. More highly myopic eyes are more likely to
need an enhancement.
What side effects are typical?
Your vision will fluctuate during the few
days following the surgery. You may notice some glare around lights at
night during the first two weeks. Dry eye is extremely common and usually
dissipates after two weeks. Light sensitivity is typical during the first
week and goes away by a month or less. The eyes may feel tired at night
and tender to touch for about a month after surgery.
What are the risks of surgery?
Like any surgical procedure, LASIK
carries some risk of complications. Risks include an infection that
could damage your cornea and result in loss of vision, although this is
extremely unlikely. As part of your evaluation for the procedure, we
will give you an informed consent document that details potential risks
and complications of surgery.
If necessary, can I wear contact lenses after LASIK?
LASIK does not modify the cornea in a way
that would prevent contact lens wear. Not being able to wear contact
lens years after LASIK is an “urban legend” that probably got started
because this was true for radial keratotomy, or RK.
Are the effects of LASIK permanent?
Yes. As far as scientists know, they are.
The cornea looks untouched to the trained eye after a year. Most
patients will not need any additional surgery in the decades to come
after LASIK. However, 1 to 2 percent of people may have a natural drift
in their need for glasses and may require a “redo” after five to ten years.
Will LASIK interfere with cataract surgery as I get older?
No. Again, after a year or more it is
difficult to tell anything has been done, so any future surgeries on the
eye will be routine.
What is the difference between LASIK and PRK?
Both procedures use the excimer laser to
reshape the cornea and correct nearsightedness. The difference is that
in PRK the laser is used on the surface of the cornea, and in LASIK the
laser is performed under a protective flap of tissue.
WFBH surgeons believe that the use of the
laser under a protective flap produces faster visual recovery, less pain
and less scarring.
In PRK, the laser is used on the surface
of the eye, and it takes several weeks for the surface to heal and
become smooth, allowing good vision. Steroid drops are necessary
(usually for about two months) to help regulate healing. It is not as easy
to repeat PRK, because of scarring and lack of predictability.
For these reasons, LASIK has become the
refractive surgical procedure of choice at Wake Forest Baptist Health Eye
Center. There are some circumstances that make PRK preferable to
LASIK. If this is the case, your physician will discuss this with you
What are the costs of the surgery?
LASIK costs are calculated depending on your prescription.
The costs include the surgery,
post-op medications, follow-up care for one year and any enhancement
treatments, if necessary, during the first 12 months. It does not
include the cost of temporary glasses.
Contact Wake Forest Baptist
If you have more LASIK questions, request an appointment online or call 888-716-WAKE.