Does it hurt?
PRK and LASIK are generally considered to be “painless procedures.” Your eye is numbed with eye drops, and you are awake during the entire procedure. During the initial healing period of 2-3 days after the procedure is performed, some patients may experience what they describe as a slight discomfort; similar to feeling as if there is something in your eye.
Does it require stitches or shots?
No. At the time of the procedure, drops are used to numb the eye, and then you will be asked to stare at a light during the laser procedure. With PRK, a protective contact lens or medicated ointment is then placed on your eye until it completes its healing process. With LASIK, the flap is resealed using air, so a bandage contact lens is not required.
How do I keep my eye open? What if I can’t see the blinking light?
Many people are worried about not being able to focus on the light during the procedure. An eyelid holder is used to hold the eye open during the laser treatment if you were to look away from the light. The computer will remember exactly where Dr. Donovan stopped the treatment, and it will not have an impact on your outcome. Again, since the laser is a cool laser, there is no damage to the tissue. Even if you somehow blinked, nothing would happen to your eyelid.
Can I wear contacts again?
Usually yes. One of the advantages of LASIK and PRK is that they do not alter the integrity of the eye and, therefore, do not generally result in scarring which would eliminate your ability to wear contacts again.
How well will I see after the surgery?
After the surgery, it is realistic to expect to achieve correction comparable to what you are able to achieve with glasses and contacts. After laser vision correction, ninety-eight percent of all people can see well enough to pass a driver’s license test without any correction. We cannot, however, promise you that you will never have to wear glasses again. While almost everyone has significant improvement in their best-uncorrected vision (what you can see without any glasses or contacts), some people may still need to wear a much milder prescription for reading or driving after the surgery.
What are the risks?
As with any surgical procedure, you may have some risks and/or potential complications. Early and temporary complications for refractive surgery are considered to be:
- Discomfort – Very few people experience discomfort which is normally described as a slight stinging feeling or the feeling as if you have something in your eye. You may take Tylenol or another over-the-counter pain reliever. Some people find that ice packs help with the discomfort.
- Light sensitivity – Upon leaving the center, we will provide you with a pair of sunglasses to wear to assist you with the light sensitivity that will affect you for the first few days after the procedure.
- Corneal haze – This usually resolves itself shortly after surgery. Extreme cases are removed by laser enhancement.
- Under / Over correction – Unless severe, these situations do not usually affect the overall vision results. High amounts of under correction are generally retreated with an enhancement procedure. Low amounts are corrected by wearing glasses for activities such as driving. Over corrected eyes are extremely rare and most tend to regress back toward the original shape as the eye heals. However, some patients may require glasses for reading.
- Infection rate – This risk is greatest in the first 48 hours following the procedure and is usually treated with antibiotic drops. The risk rate for infection is around 0.2%. This risk is controlled by applying a bandage contact lens and post-operative medication. It is important that you carefully follow all of your post-operative instructions and see Dr. Donovan for all of your post-operative visits.
- Halos / Glare – If you experience problems driving at night or have halos and glare prior to the procedure, having the procedure may or may not affect those problems which are associated with your pupil getting bigger. Most of the time halos and glare go away with time.
The risk of a serious vision threatening complication is less than 1%.
Can I do both eyes at once?
The decision to have one eye done or both eyes done consecutively should be made by Dr. Donovan and the patient. Initially, it was felt that time should be allowed between eyes. However, the standard of care in the United States, particularly with LASIK, has improved so that now either both eyes done on the same day or one eye at a time may be done safely – Whatever Dr. Donovan and the patient decide.
How do I compensate for the other eye’s correction in between surgeries?
This is only a problem if you have your eyes done on separate days. If you wear contacts, you can continue wearing the contact in the uncorrected eye until Dr. Donovan instructs you to discontinue its use to prepare for surgery on the second eye. If you wear glasses, you can have one lens without any correction put into your glasses until you can have the second eye corrected.
Do I have to do anything special before or after the procedure?
A comprehensive eye evaluation is required prior to the procedure. Dr, Donovan and his staff will explain all of the instructions to you before and after the procedure. If you wear contacts, you will have to remove them prior to the surgery.
Soft Contact Lenses – must be removed at least 10 days prior to surgery.
Soft Toric Lenses – must be removed two weeks prior to surgery.
Gas permeable or Hard Lenses – must be removed 4-6 weeks prior to surgery.
After the procedure, you will need to have someone drive you home, and you will need to see Dr. Donovan within the first few days following the procedure. You will be required to visit Dr. Donovan post-operatively at one-month, three months, six months, and one year intervals.
How much time off of work will it require?
Most people can return to work within two days. Although your vision may continue to improve over time, average initial healing times for the procedure are as follows:
PRK – initial healing two to three days with continued vision improvement over two to four weeks.
LASIK – 24-48 hours for visual recovery.
How does it affect my eyes long term? Does it lead to future unrelated procedures?
Since both PRK and LASIK are relatively new procedures, there may be some long-term risks that have not yet been discovered. To date, however, excimer procedures have not been found to affect or cause any unrelated eye problems.
Why do some companies charge significantly less for the procedure?
There are many different companies that provide laser vision correction in the United States and Canada. As levels of service and quality vary greatly, it is important for you to be informed of all of your options and to seek out the safest and most reputable healthcare providers. Our doctors and surgical teams are among the most experienced in the country, utilizing only FDA-approved, state-of-the-art equipment.
Is laser vision correction covered by insurance?
Refractive surgery is generally considered to be an elective procedure and therefore is not usually covered under most insurance programs. There are a few progressive companies that may provide coverage. Dr. Donovan will be happy to provide you with a letter for your insurance company, and the laser center will provide you with a receipt so you may submit the expense for reimbursement. Many patients may choose to use our patient finance program which helps make laser vision correction even more affordable.