Frequently Asked Questions for LASIK Eye Surgery
How much does laser eye surgery cost? Does insurance cover LASIK surgery? Are there vision problems after LASIK surgery? Is LASIK eye surgery safe? What are the side effects of laser eye surgery?
If you have been researching the dizzying array of LASIK information available today, you may be more blurry-eyed than usual! Hopefully, you will find answers to your questions below. If you still have questions or concerns, please call Kim or Katie, our patient care team, at 866-DR LASIK.
“Had LASIK surgery yesterday. It is amazing. The staff was awesome. Should have done this years ago.”
“Parker is the best, staff is amazing, highly recommend! Glad I made the choice, 20/15 and loving it”
“I had LASIK performed by Dr. Parker and I could not be any happier with my decision to undergo such a procedure.”
LASIK Eye Surgery Q & A
What does Laser Eye Surgery Cost?
Laser eye surgery cost can be dependent upon the technology you choose. Eye Care Specialists offers the most advanced laser vision correction technology with the iLASIK procedure. Typically, an average cost of LASIK is between $2050 to $2500 per eye, dependent on the facility, technology used, and experience of the surgeon. Click here for more information comparing laser eye surgery cost and the cost of your current vision correction. You'd be surprised what your contacts are costing you over an extended period of time!
Does Insurance Cover LASIK?
Laser eye surgery cost is not covered under insurance is considered an elective or cosmetic procedure. Some insurance companies offer a discount but often determine which surgeon or facility performs your procedure.
Payment is due in full the day of the procedure and you will receive a receipt and superbill detailing the procedure code if you wish to file with your insurance company. Eye Care Specialists offers discounts for BlueCross BlueShield, VSP (Vision Service Plan), and Farm Bureau insurance. Another option is to take advantage of an FSA or HSA plan offered through your employer. These plans allocate pre-tax dollars toward your laser eye surgery cost. Click here for more details on these tax-saving plans. We also offer financing through CareCredit. Click here for more details on payment plans for laser eye surgery cost or use the payment calculator to the right for an estimated monthly payment for the plans we offer.
Does LASIK eye surgery hurt?
Many prospective patients are fearful of LASIK eye surgery because they are awake for the procedure. Prior to surgery, you will receive a mild sedative to ensure that you remain comfortable and numbing drops are applied to your eyes before, during, and after surgery. Although you may feel some pressure, these steps help to make the LASIK process relatively pain free. LASIK eye surgery typically only takes 10 minutes per eye and Dr. Parker is very calming talking you through the entire procedure.
After the procedure you may experience temporary, mild discomfort such as light sensitivity, dryness, or irritation within the first 24 hours. However, artificial tears typically relieve these symptoms. Most patients are pleasantly surprised at how quick and simple the procedure is and have little to no discomfort during and after surgery.
If fear is the reason you are remaining dependent on your vision correction, click here to learn more about the safety and risks of LASIK eye surgery.
What are potential LASIK surgery side effects?
Over two decades of advancements with laser eye surgery have helped minimize LASIK surgery side effects. Most side effects improve over time as the eye heals and stabilizes. Dry eye can be a laser eye surgery side effect. If dryness is a problem after LASIK, Dr. Parker can treat the condition with prescription drops such as Restatis or punctual plugs which helps your eyes retain natural tears. Sometimes patients notice glare and halos at night which also improves as vision stabilizes. Poor nighttime vision was a more common laser eye surgery side effect with previous technologies. Through the detailed measurements of the WaveScan system used at Eye Care Specialists, night glare and halos are minimized and usually resolve over 3 to 6 months.
What are the risks of LASIK surgery?
Although LASIK eye surgery is a very safe procedure with proven results, it is still surgery. As with any surgery, infection is always a concern therefore you will use an antibiotic drop after surgery to prevent infection. After three months you may have a retreatment to fine-tune your vision if you are under or over corrected. Dr. Parker's many years of experience and meticulous nature show in his low retreatment rate and satisfied patients. Click here to learn more about Dr. Parker's training and LASIK eye surgery outcomes.
Is the LASIK procedure safe?
LASIK eye surgery is extremely safe when performed by qualified LASIK surgeons on good candidates. As with any surgery, there are risks but complications are rare. Click here to view more about LASIK eye surgery risks and side effects.
LASIK surgery was approved by the FDA in 1998 after years of clinical trials. In fact, Dr. Parker was a sub-investigator in FDA clinical trials for LASIK! Since then, LASIK eye surgery has undergone nearly 20 years of clinical studies and technological advancements making it one of the safest and most effective methods for vision correction. Some studies have shown LASIK eye surgery carries less risk of infection than wearing contacts.
What are alternatives to LASIK surgery?
Other alternatives to LASIK, aside from glasses or contact lenses, are other refractive procedures such as PRK, phakic intraocular lens implants, or Visian ICLs (implantable collamer lens). When patients are over the age of 60, cataract surgery becomes a better alternative to LASIK. Some surgeons perform clear lens extraction which would be equivalent to elective cataract surgery.
How should I choose a LASIK surgeon?
After making the decision to have LASIK eye surgery, your next very important decision is to choose your surgeon. Ask questions and research the skills and outcomes of the surgeons you visit. Some facilities may offer a discounted price and tout the total number of eyes treated, but, "buyer beware." The surgeons at these facilities may not be corneal sub specialists and often are only involved on the procedure day. Optometrists may conduct the pre-operative exam, treatment plan, and perform the post-operative visits and you only meet the surgeon the day of the procedure. Make sure the answers to your questions are about the surgeon, not the facility. Some facilities may indicate statistics like "100,000 eyes have been treated." Be sure to ask, how many eyes YOUR surgeon has treated? Ninety-four percent of patients may have 20/20 outcomes but what are the outcomes of YOUR surgeon?
At Eye Care Specialists we are patient-focused, not volume-focused. Being a corneal sub specialist, Dr. Parker is fellowship trained in corneal surgery and conditions and diseases of the cornea. By treating other corneal conditions such as Fuchs disease, glaucoma, keratoconus, and cataracts, he knows the warning signs and symptoms of these eye conditions. Dr. Parker will only perform LASIK surgery on a patient that he feels is a strong candidate for the procedure. If he is concerned with your WaveScans (3D mappings of your nearsighted or farsighted condition) or your topography (a "mountainous" mapping of the shape of your cornea), he may cancel or postpone surgery. Dr. Parker's goal is to give you the maximum benefits and clearest vision possible with LASIK eye surgery. If he feels he cannot achieve this goal with the unique aspects of your vision or health of your eyes, he will not proceed.
Who is a candidate for LASIK eye surgery
An ideal LASIK candidate is typically between the ages of 18 and 55 with a stable prescription and healthy eyes. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not have LASIK because pregnancy can change your refractive measurements (prescription). Moms should be three months post pregnancy and nursing to ensure vision has stabilized before having LASIK eye surgery. If you have a history of dry eyes, this may need to be treated prior to and after your procedure. If you are taking certain prescription drugs such as Accutane or an oral steroid, you will need to discontinue these medications a period of time prior to LASIK eye surgery. If you have received chemotherapy or radiation treatments, you will need to wait a period of time after your treatment is complete and your vision has stabilized before having laser vision correction.
Patients with a history of diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, amblyopia, or Herpes Keratitis can be evaluated on an individual basis. If the condition or disease is well controlled and stable these patients may be a candidate for LASIK.
Patients with Keratoconus, significant corneal scarring, or an active corneal / ocular inflammation or infection are not candidates for LASIK eye surgery.
Eye Care Specialists offers a Free Screening to determine if you are a candidate for LASIK eye surgery. The appointment takes about an hour. Our corneal technicians take some measurements and Dr. Parker examines the overall health of your eyes to evaluate whether you could proceed with laser vision correction. Click here for details on scheduling this complimentary exam.
Can LASIK fix my up close vision?
LASIK can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism which affect your distance vision. The procedure cannot correct presbyopia. This condition affects reading vision typically after age 40 and requires the use of reading glasses or "cheaters" to aid near vision. LASIK eye surgery will correct distance vision, but reading glasses are still needed for up-close vision. Click here to learn more about this condition.
Are there age limitations for LASIK eye surgery?
In general, the ideal candidate for LASIK surgery is between the ages of 18 and 55, with stable vision and healthy corneas. Although this is the optimal age range, we have performed the procedure on patients up until age 60. If a patient is under 21, we will obtain prior eye exams to ensure vision has stabilized.
Patients over 40 should recognize that LASIK eye surgery does not correct up-close vision. Reading glasses will still be needed after laser vision correction.
Is LASIK surgery permanent?
LASIK surgery is a permanent procedure for your current vision at the time of your laser vision correction. The procedure does not prevent vision from changing and cannot correct or prevent presbyopia, the need for reading glasses after age 40. Click here for more information about presbyopia.
Should your vision naturally change after your LASIK procedure, an enhancement or LASIK "touch-up" can be performed to correct your refraction.
Will I be able to see immediately after surgery?
Although results vary patient to patient, you should notice a clearer vision immediately after LASIK. Due to the drop medications used during and after surgery and potential swelling of the cornea, you will still experience some blurring, similar to looking behind water. After your post-surgery nap, vision is noticeably better. The next day, most patients are seeing clearly for their one-day post op exam. As healing progresses and as you continue your drop medication regimen, your vision will continue to improve and begin to stabilize.
While your eyes are healing, it is normal for your vision to fluctuate for several weeks. In some instances, it may take up to 4 to 8 weeks to obtain your best vision. Adjustments called retreatments can be performed as soon as three months after surgery, if indicated. Click here for more information about LASIK eye surgery recovery.
Are there limitations after LASIK?
Although LASIK surgery has a very minimal recovery period, there are a few post-surgical limitations. For the first week, you need to avoid getting water in the eyes. You may shower, but keep your eyes closed when washing hair and rinse so that the water runs towards the back of your head. Also, try to aim the flow of water lower than your eyes. Gently pat-wash with a clean cloth around the eyes. No eye make-up or mascara should be worn for 1 week. After 1 week, you may wear make-up that is easily removed with soap and water. Dr. Parker does not want you to go motorcycling, horseback riding, swimming, or use a tanning bed for 2 weeks post surgery. It is important to avoid getting dust or dirt in the eyes. This will irritate the eye as well as increase your risk of infection. If dust does get in your eye, use preservative-free artificial tears to flush the debris out of the eye. Wear safety glasses or sports goggles when participating in contact sports or doing work during which foreign matter may get into your eyes. Click here for more information eye surgery recovery.
Do I have LASIK surgery on both eyes at the same time?
Surgery is typically performed on both eyes the same day. The actual procedure only takes about ten minutes per eye. We have, on occasion, performed surgery on the right eye and left eye on different days at the patient's request.
Will I have dry eyes after LASIK?
Dry eye can be a side effect of LASIK eye surgery. In most patients, it subsides shortly after surgery. If dryness continues to be bothersome, Dr. Parker or your eye doctor may use gel tears, prescription drops, or punctal plugs to help aleviate the dryness. If you struggle with dry eye prior to your LASIK surgery, Dr. Parker may choose to treat the condition before proceeding with surgery. Click here to learn more about dry eye.
Can I have cataract surgery after LASIK?
At some point in your life, typically after age 60, you may most likely need cataract surgery. You can have cataract surgery if you have previously had laser vision correction. Since your measurements prior to LASIK are helpful to your cataract surgeon, we provide a "manifest label" for your medical records after your LASIK eye surgery. A manifest is your refraction or prescription. Dr. Parker also performs cataract surgery, click here for more information.
Can I have LASIK surgery after cataract surgery?
You can have LASIK after cataract surgery. If the IOL (intraocular lens implant) implanted during cataract surgery is not providing the vision you had hoped, sometimes a laser "touch up" through LASIK surgery can correct residual astigmatism or treat nearsightedness or farsightedness after cataract surgery. Being a corneal sub specialist Dr. Parker treats many eye conditions and performs cataract surgery.
Do I have to stop wearing contacts before my exam?
Contacts actually change the natural shape of your cornea. In order to achieve the most accurate measurements possible, you will need to discontinue your contacts before your pre-operative exam and until surgery. This allows your cornea to relax and resume its most natural shape for the laser measurements.
If you wear soft contact lenses, you will need to stop wearing your contacts 2 weeks prior to the dilated pre-operative exam and until the procedure. If you wear toric lenses, they should be discontinued 3 weeks prior to your pre-op exam and until surgery. If you wear hard contacts or gas permeable lenses, you will need to stop wearing your contacts a minimum of 4 weeks prior to your exam and procedure. We do not, however, need you to stop wearing your contacts before an initial screening exam to determine if you are a candidate for the procedure. Click here to request a complimentary consultation with Dr. Parker.
How long do I have to be without my contacts?
Since your contacts affect the natural shape of your cornea, you need to stop wearing them prior to surgery to ensure the precision of the measurements and scans used to determine your LASIK treatment plan. If you wear soft contact lenses, you will need to stop wearing your contacts 2 weeks prior to the dilated per-operative exam and until the procedure. If you wear toric lenses, they should be discontinued 3 weeks prior to your pre-op exam and until surgery. Hard contacts or gas-permeable contacts need to be discontinued a minimum of four weeks prior to the pre-op exam, depending on how quickly the corneas change shape. Dr. Parker may have you come into the office during this time to check your progress.
We are sensitive to the fact that contact lens patients do not want to be in glasses any longer than necessary. We can conduct the pre-operative exam up to the day before your surgery so you are wearing your glasses the minimal amount of time before surgery
Can I wear contacts after LASIK?
You can wear contacts approximately three months after LASIK surgery. Although you may not have a refractive error after LASIK requiring contacts to see clearly, please be aware of the dangers of wearing cosmetic contact lenses without a proper fitting and prescription. Everyone's eyes have a unique shape and your optometrist will need to take measurements to achieve a proper fit. Click here for more information on wearing decorative contact lenses.
Do I need to stop any medications before my procedure?
Some medications such as Accutane can inhibit healing and should be discontinued 3 months prior to surgery. Other medications such as antihistamines can cause dry eye. It is best to evaluate all medications prior to your surgery. If you would like to schedule a free consultation, you can meet with Dr. Parker and discuss any concerns.
Can LASIK correct astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a refractive error due to an oblonged curvature of the cornea, the clear front part of the eye. LASIK eye surgery can correct astigmatism by using an excimer laser to reshape the cornea to correct your vision.
Since there are different types and degrees of astigmatism, it is best to schedule a Free Screening exam to determine if LASIK eye surgery could correct your refractive error. Our corneal technicians take measurements and Dr. Parker examines the overall health of your eyes to evaluate whether you could proceed with laser vision correction. Click here for details on scheduling this complimentary exam.
What happens if my eyes change after LASIK?
Although LASIK is a permanent procedure, sometimes your vision may naturally change or regress as you get older. Most often, if a patient had a stable prescription prior to LASIK, vision will likely not change to the point of needing vision correction. Generally, enhancement rates are higher for patients who have a very high myopic (nearsighted) prescription or a hyperopic (farsighted) prescription.
If you develop a nearsighted or farsighted prescription or develop an astigmatism after LASIK, you may be eligible for what is known as an enhancement or a LASIK "touch-up". The flap created in your original LASIK procedure, which naturally adhered to the eye during healing, can be manually lifted for an additional laser treatment.
LASIK does not correct or prevent a condition known as presbyopia. Presbyopia occurs as the eye naturally ages and affects close-up vision. Click here for more information about this condition.
Will I need glasses after LASIK?
LASIK does not correct a condition known as presbyopia which typically begins around age 40. Presbyopia is the decreased ability to focus at near and the progressive loss of the accommodative (focusing) ability of the lens is due to the natural processes of aging. Presbyopia is commonly corrected by the use of reading glasses or bifocals. Due to this condition, LASIK may not eliminate your need for glasses completely. You may still need reading glasses after the procedure.
For patients with the goal of eliminating their dependence on contacts and glasses or to no longer require bi-focal glasses, LASIK is still a great option and only reading glasses for near vision should be needed after LASIK surgery. Other patients feel if LASIK eye surgery cannot completely eliminate the need for glasses, they do not wish to proceed with the surgery. Some patients consider monovision as an option where one eye is undercorrected for reading while the other eye is corrected for distance.
What is monovision?
Monovision is when one eye (typically the dominant eye) is treated for distance and the other eye is left untreated or undercorrected for reading vision. Monovision is performed to reduce the effects of presbyopia. With monovision, the brain learns to adapt to which eye sees at each distance. If you would like to consider monovision, Dr. Parker may have you test this type of vision correction with contacts before your LASIK eye surgery since there is usually an adjustment period in adapting to this form of vision correction.
What if the LASIK procedure doesn't work?
Once your vision has stabilized, if you are under or over corrected, a retreatment may be considered. For a retreatment, Dr. Parker can manually lift the flap created during your LASIK procedure in preparation for an additional laser treatment. Retreatments do not incur a charge within two years of your original LASIK procedure and can be performed as soon as three months after your surgery. Retreatments can be more common for higher or complex prescriptions.
What is the difference between LASIK and iLASIK?
Standard "LASIK" is a general term for laser vision correction in which a flap is created on the cornea, the front clear part of your eye, and a laser is used to reshape the cornea to correct your vision. Originally, the corneal flap for LASIK surgery was created with a microkeratome or a blade. Advancements in technology now enable the corneal flap to be created with a laser, lessening potential complications, enhancing visual outcomes, and aiding post-operative healing. This is why you may see or hear the terms "bladeless" or "all-laser" in relation to LASIK eye surgery.
There are several different manufacturers of lasers and equipment for LASIK eye surgery. Eye Care Specialists offers the iLASIK procedure by Abbott Medical Optics (AMO). The "i" in iLASIK emphasizes that this LASIK procedure is completely individualized, making the treatment unique to you. With iLASIK, Advanced CustomVue Wavescans are used to take a detailed scan of your eye. This scan is essentially a 3D fingerprint of your eye in that it takes into account all the imperfections that are unique to your vision. The CustomVue Wavescan measurement of your vision is 25 times more detailed than the measurements used for your contacts and glasses.