1) How does the doctor determine if I am a candidate?
An appointment for an evaluation is scheduled. When the patient comes in for that appointment, a series of measurements and tests are completed, such as corneal measurements, refractions (glasses prescription) and a dilated eye exam. The doctor will review the results of all the testing, and from that, it will be determined if the patient is a candidate.
2) What factors prevent me from being considered a candidate?
There are a few factors which prevent a patient from having refractive surgery. Most of these include pre-existing conditions; however, not all conditions are a contraindication. Patients who are under the age of 21 or over 55, pregnant, farsighted and "plus" prescription are not considered candidates. Also, if the patient's corneas are too thin, we cannot perform the surgery. We strongly encourage all patients who are interested in refractive sugary to come into the office. A thorough exam is the best way to find out if you are a candidate.
3) If I have had surgery on my eyes for other problems, does that mean that I will not be a candidate?
Other types of surgery are not necessarily a contraindication for refractive surgery. It all depends on what type of surgery was done. You can help the doctor in that aspect by letting us know about any surgeries you have had in the past, and, if possible, bring in your previous records.
4) Are there different kinds of refractive surgery?
There are many different kinds of refractive surgery. PRK, and a closely related surgery, LASIK, are the most common. Both use a laser to reshape the cornea, PRK is on the surface and LASIK is under a flap of tissue. PRK is preferred at our practice due to its safety profile. A procedure called phakic intraocular lens implant is available for some highly near-sighted patients who do not qualify for PRK.
5) Will I still need glasses at all?
In many cases the need for distance glasses is completely resolved. Patients who have "over 40 eyes" generally still need reading glasses, but monovision (one eye corrected to see well in the distance and one eye corrected to see well at near) is possible.
6) How long does the result of the surgery last?
Every patient is a little different. In most cases patients experience a stable long-term result for many years (10 – 20 years). There are factors, which we cannot predict, that cause the eyes to change. If there is a change, an enhancement is an option.
7) Will I still need cataract surgery?
Cataracts are a normal aging change of the eye which involves the lens. When a refractive surgery such as PRK or LASIK is done, it is a treatment of the cornea. These are 2 different structures, so you may still need to have cataract surgery done in the future.
8) Is the surgery painful?
Every patient feels things a bit differently. Following PRK, most patients experience mild to moderate discomfort on a level of 2 out 10 for 3 - 4 days. A patient's pain level generally depends on their tolerance and is individualized.
9) What is the recovery time?
Recovery time varies from patient to patient depending on their rate of healing and tolerance. IN MOST CASES, patients are able to return to work in one week following PRK. If you are wondering about performing specific activities, you should ask your doctor during your evaluation.
10) Does insurance cover refractive surgery? What is the cost of the surgery?
Currently most insurance companies DO NOT cover refractive surgery. It is considered a cosmetic procedure. There are some specific vision plans that do offer discounts. The current cost of the procedure in our office is $2,000 per eye, which includes the evaluation visit, the procedure and post-op visits for up to 1 year.
These are just the some of the questions we encounter most often. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact our office or bring them in when you come in for your next appointment. Thank you.
Maria Bowden, C.O.T. Laser Vision Correction Coordinator