If your vision is impaired and you must wear corrective lenses or contacts, you may have considered laser eye surgery as an alternative. As of mid-2016, LASIK, the most common form of laser eye surgery, had a patient satisfaction rate of 96%, and 99% percent of patients were left with 20/40 vision or better. However, laser eye surgery is not meant for everyone, and there are bound to be a number of misconceptions regarding the process. Before deciding on the surgery, there are a few things you need to consider.
Prior to getting the surgery, you must adhere to the doctor’s instructions in order to avoid complications. You will not be permitted to wear contacts for a few weeks leading up to the surgery. Contacts change the shape of the cornea, and it’s important that the eye has returned to its natural shape by the time you arrive. You are able to wear glasses in that interim, so this is usually not an issue, but understanding this requirement is important before you make your decision.
You should also avoid wearing makeup and facial lotions for around a week before the surgery in order to reduce the risk of infection following the procedure.
Many insurances don’t cover LASIK because it is deemed elective and cosmetic. Some offices have payment plans that are adaptable, but you should consider your financial situation and willingness to pay out of pocket for the procedure.
Additionally, you will be required to purchase things like eye drops to use both before and after your procedure. These are often not included in the price of the surgery.
The actual surgery does not take much time; most procedures take less than ten minutes. The surgery itself entails a process of cutting a flap on the eye and reshaping the cornea. It is a simple process, resulting in the short estimation of its duration.
Even though the surgery affects one of the most sensitive parts of the body, patients are not given anesthesia to put them to sleep. Instead, anesthetic eye drops are applied to numb the eye so that the patient feels no pain. This means that patients are awake while the surgery takes place. Doctors are permitted to give mild sedatives to patients who are anxious, but the procedure is quick and painless.
Following the surgery, it is advised the patient take plenty of time to rest and keep their eyes closed as much as possible. As laser eye surgery is an outpatient surgery, patients are sent home that same day of the procedure. Patients will usually have to return to the office within a day or so to assess the healing process.
Possible Side Effects & Complications
No surgery is completely without risk of side effects. Some patients who undergo laser eye surgery experience some side effects, often in the form of dry eyes, bursts of light or haziness, or eye infections. Rarer complications include undercorrections and overcorrections, where surgeons remove too much or too little tissue from the eye resulting in nonoptimal vision correction.
Is It Right For You?
As mentioned previously, laser eye surgery is not the solution to all cases of impaired vision. You may want to reconsider getting laser eye surgery if:
- You have a disease that will lead to the progressive deterioration of your eyes.
- You have a condition like dry eyes, large pupils, glaucoma, or cataracts.
- Your vision is not bad enough to warrant the use of glasses at all times. If you wear glasses part time or only for certain activities, the surgery may not be worth the risk.
- You actively participate in contact sports like football, boxing, or martial arts. Anything with a high risk of facial or head contact might deter you from deciding on undergoing the surgery.
It is important to understand that there is no guarantee of perfect vision with laser eye surgery; many patients who have undergone the surgery still need glasses for certain activities like reading or low-light conditions. Understanding the process and the potential outcomes of the surgery should play into your decision.