Frequently Asked Questions
What is LASIK?
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 discomfort. About Lasik Eye Surgery
How long has LASIK been performed?
The excimer laser has been used for over 14 years and received FDA approval in 1998. Eye surgeons have been creating a protective flap of tissue for over 30 years. These 2 techniques were first combined in 1991 to create a new form of refractive surgery known as LASIK. Dr. Keith Walter has been performing LASIK since 1995.
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 like “curvy doorways” or toric soft contact lenses, which move and blur with each blink.
Who does this surgery?
Dr. Walter performs the surgery. Although Wake Forest University Eye Center is a teaching facility with residents and medical students, we do not teach residents or students LASIK.
Candidacy and Consultation
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
In order to determine if you are eligible for laser surgery, you must have a consultation. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-716-2305 if you have questions or wish to schedule an appointment for consultation or free screening.
What is done at a LASIK consultation?
A complete dilated eye examination and specialized computer measurement of the shape of your cornea is performed. Dr. Walter 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 1 week and gas permeable (hard) lenses out for 2 weeks prior to your consultation.
The cost is $165.00.
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 lense fitters on a separate day. There will be a charge for contact lens fitting. The charge for your glasses prescription is $30.00.
Patient Experience with LASIK
How long does the procedure take?
About 5 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 following the procedure.
What if I blink or move during surgery?
A tiny wire spring keeps you from blinking and a pupil tracker follows your pupil to insure 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. Dr. Walter will talk you through the surgery, so there will be no surprises. We have nurses that can hold your hand, or you can even bring in a loved one to hold your hand.
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 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 small.
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!
H4: How long is follow-up needed?
Follow-up checks are required at 1 day, 2 weeks, 3 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. (See How the Eye Works)
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 2 week postoperative examination. Patients with large amounts of astigmatism or nearsightedness may take up to 6 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 3 month examination and up to 1 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 2 weeks. Dry eye is extremely common and usually dissipates after 2 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 which 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 which 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 5 to 10 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.
LASIK vs. PRK
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.
WFU 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 2 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 University Eye Center . There are some circumstances which make PRK preferably to LASIK. If this is your case, your physician will discuss this with you during consultation.
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 1 year and any enhancement treatments, if necessary, during the first 12 months. It does not include the cost of temporary glasses. (See Cost & Financing)