Before Your Appointment
If you are a contact lens wearer, removal of contacts prior to your evaluation will be necessary. At least two weeks for every decade you have worm them is recommended for hard or rigid gas permeable (“RGP” lenses), and at least two weeks for normal soft lenses and four weeks for Toric soft lenses. This may vary depending on your doctor’s recommendation. Some preliminary tests include corneal mapping and measurement of the corneal thickness. These may be done at your doctor’s office or may be done prior to your procedure at Pacific ClearVision Institute.
Before Your Surgery
If you and your eye doctor decide that LASIK is for you, an information packet will be given to you. On the day of your LASIK, take your normal medications. A driver should bring you to the appointment because you will need to keep your eyelids closed for approximately six hours after the procedure. No makeup around the eyes should be worn the day of surgery. It is very important to have ALL makeup thoroughly cleaned from the eyelashes and eyelids prior to LASIK. Upon arrival to Pacific ClearVision Institute, some additional tests will be done. A final refractive check is done to confirm prior data. Our surgeon will also meet with you prior to the LASIK. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. Our physicians are happy to discuss your questions on a personal basis and will take the time to make sure they are answered to your satisfaction. Prior to LASIK, should you be nervous about the procedure, please ask the helpful staff for assistance; many patients feel better with some relaxing medicine prior to the procedure.
The Experience Of LASIK
After the doctor examines your eyes and answers any questions, you will be taken to the laser room. You will be seated in a comfortable chair that will lie back, placing your eyes in position for treatment. The first eye to be treated is prepared using special drapes and a separator is used to keep the lids from blinking. With some people, especially those with small eyelid openings, this can be slightly uncomfortable. At this point, a special instrument is placed on the eye to cause it to become firm. During this time, your vision will go gray but you will be looking at a red light. Then you will be slid over to the reshaping laser, which will reshape your cornea while you look at a flashing light. The laser has been calibrated carefully to deliver the exact treatment your eye needs. This is highly controlled to ensure an excellent outcome. Once the laser is finished, the flap is laid back down and adheres on its own without stitches. This takes a couple of minutes. After the surgeon is sure the flap is seated properly, the other eye is treated in the same way. Once the procedure is done, a careful examination by the surgeon is done under the microscope. The eyes are covered with a clear shield and you are advised to keep them closed for 6 hours.
Recovery after LASIK
The use of specific eye drops will be reviewed extensively with you at your LASIK appointment, and you will receive prescriptions for any appropriate medications. These are to prevent infection and to control the healing of your eyes during the first week. Typically, there is no pain following the procedure. Your eyes may feel scratchy but generally, you will not need anything more than Tylenol. Six hours after surgery you should see a significant improvement in vision. In 24 hours, 80-85% of the healing has occurred. Usually, you will be able to drive yourself to the post-op visit without glasses or contacts. For a week or two, it is common for the vision to improve day by day.
You may need reading glasses if you had bifocals or reading glasses over contacts prior to LASIK. After the first day post-op exam with our surgeon, other follow-up appointments will be with your primary eye care provider. These usually occur in one week, one month, and then three to six months. At approximately three months, most individuals’ vision will stabilize. In our experience about 1-2% of individuals need enhancements. This is greatly affected by the level of correction needed initially. The higher the change, the more chance one will have of needing an enhancement.
Long-term Eye Health after LASIK
As a rule, LASIK is a very stable procedure. However, the eyes do change over time and things unrelated to your LASIK procedure can occur, as LASIK does not affect the health of the rest of the eye. The most common is “presbyopia” or the inability of the eyes to close focus as we age. Since LASIK attempts to achieve clear vision in the distance, your eyes will need to adjust to see up close. Those between 40 to 45 years of age or older notice that near vision may be more difficult and their eyes will not be able to adjust automatically. It is important to understand this as it will affect the way you use your eyes after LASIK if you are of this age. Typically, glasses for reading only are used. In some people “monovision” can be done surgically, making one eye see better for reading and the other for distance. Ask your eye doctor if this may work for you.
Side Effects after LASIK
Some people will note an increased dryness of the eyes after LASIK, and some patients can see rings around lights when driving at night. These are generally temporary and will diminish over the course of several weeks or months. Frequent use of eye lubricating eye drops or pupil-constricting drops helps alleviate the symptoms. Other changes in the eye over time can be cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and other health-related problems. These occur regardless of having had LASIK. Other specific questions about possible changes in vision should be addressed to your eye doctor or to the staff at Pacific ClearVision Institute.