Q: What does Lasik stand for?
A: Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis.
Q: What does PRK stand for?
A: Photorefractive keratectomy.
Q: What is Microkeratome Lasik?
A: Beginning in the early 1990’s, this was the first instrument used to create a LASIK flap and is still used today. Also referred to as “blade LASIK”, the microkeratome uses an oscillating blade to create the corneal flap. Flap thickness can be as much as 200 microns. Moreover, the thickness can vary within individual flaps up to 100 microns. In comparison, Intralase femtosecond flap thickness can be selected by the surgeon with a variability of less than a few microns throughout the entire flap. Once the flap is created the surgeon will correct the vision using an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. The flap is then repositioned back over the cornea and begins to heal. Some surgeons may place a bandage contact lens on the eye for the first 24 hours to ensure the flaps healing.
Q: What is Intralase Lasik?
A: Intralase or “all-laser, blade free LASIK” creates the LASIK flap by using a femtosecond laser. The Intralase allows the surgeon to customize the LASIK flap according to the patient’s eye shape, pupil size and corneal thickness. This creates a thinner, more precise flap (typically 90-120 microns) compared to the traditional microkeratome method. Once the flap is created the surgeon will correct the vision using an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. The flap is then repositioned back over the cornea and begins to heal. Because of the flaps precision and uniformed thickness there is typically no need to place a bandage contact lens on the eye. Without the use of a blade the femtosecond laser is the safest LASIK procedure when comparing the two methods.
Q: What is PRK?
A: PRK or “no touch” laser vision correction is a tissue saving method which is typically used when patients have thinner corneas, higher prescriptions or may not be candidates for LASIK. This method was used before LASIK surgery and is still a safe and common procedure used today. The surgeon will begin by gently removing the surface layer of the cornea (epithelium) and then correct the vision using an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. A bandage contact lens is then placed on the eye to help protect it while the epithelium regenerates. Individual healing may vary but the epithelium typically regenerates in 4 days. The PRK procedure has a longer healing time than LASIK procedures but the same visual outcome.
Q: What is a conventional treatment?
A: A conventional treatment does not utilize the wavefront mapping (like the iDesign) to guide the laser. This allows correction of only the lower order aberrations such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism and does not customize the procedure to each individual eye’s anatomy.
Q: Who is a good candidate?
A: Many factors come in to play when determining who is a good candidate. Patients 18 years and older with a stable prescription, refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatisms and enough corneal tissue are typically good candidates. Women who are pregnant or nursing are not able to go forward with surgery until they have finished nursing.
Q: What makes someone a non-candidate?
A: Potential contraindications for laser refractive surgery include corneal irregularities, dry eyes, cataracts, glaucoma, unstable glasses prescriptions or prescriptions that are outside of the scope of the lasers treatment. In addition, laser surgery may not be advised for people taking certain medications.
Women who are pregnant or nursing may be advised not to proceed with surgery until they have finished nursing. If you are pregnant, nursing or considering pregnancy within 6 months please advise the VICTORIA EYE staff.
Q: Is there an age limit?
A: Although there is not a definitive age range the following considerations are take
- for the minimum age the patient must have a stable refraction and typically this isn’t seen until very late in the teen years or even in the early 20s.
- for the maximum age the patient in their sixties, or beyond, may benefit more from a lens related procedure similar to cataract surgery.
Q: Are there risks?
A: No surgical procedure is risk free. Fortunately, laser refractive surgery is one of the safest procedures available. Following a comprehensive ocular exam, the doctors at VICTORIA EYE will determine which procedure is safest for you.
Q: Will I need glasses after?
A: For most patients the need for glasses and contact lenses is eliminated after refractive surgery. However patients in their 40’s and beyond may still require the use of reading glasses following surgery.
Q: How long is the procedure?
A: The laser treatment times will vary for each patient depending on their prescription and the procedure performed. Most patients are in the operating room for a total of 20-30 minutes (for both eyes) with laser treatments lasting anywhere from a few seconds up to 90 seconds per eye.
Q: What if I move during the treatment?
A: Thanks to advanced pupil tracking, the laser is able to track your pupil’s movements and ensure correct treatment. If you were to look away during treatment the laser will automatically stop and may only be resumed once the surgeon confirms the pupil is back in place. For optimal results it is best to stay as still as possible and focus on the focal points the surgeon points out. If need be, the surgeon or surgical staff may use additional techniques to help hold your head in place to ensure the least amount of movement.
Q: Is the procedure painful?
A: Before starting the procedure topical anesthetic drops are used to numb the eye(s) and may also be used throughout surgery to ensure comfort. Most patients find the procedure to be quick and easy.
Q: What is the recovery like and how long?
A: Recovery may vary depending on the procedure and patient.
Most LASIK patients are able to resume work and regular activities such as driving after 24-48 hours. Following the procedure and once the numbing drops have worn off from surgery it is common to experience a burning, gritty or stinging sensation along with watery and light sensitive eyes. This tends to reside after 6-8 hours or after patients have rested. Over the next couple weeks and even months patients will continue to notice visual improvements and the prescription will typically stabilize around 3 months.
For PRK patients comfort and visual recovery will take a bit longer. Patients are advised to take 1 week off of work and driving; this may vary depending on individual healing. Following the procedure and once the numbing drops have worn off patients may experience a burning, gritty or stinging sensation along with watery eyes and light sensitivity which may last 3-4 days. You may be prescribed medication to help manage this discomfort. After 1 week most patients are able to resume driving and most regular activities. Patients will continue to notice visual improvements over the next couple months with the vision stabilizing around 6 months.
Q: How long will the results last?
A: Beyond the initial healing period (typically several months), the results are very stable. However, during the healing period there is a chance some of the original prescription may return (referred to as regression), in which case a second treatment, known as an enhancement, may be recommended.
Q: Do I need to take time off work?
A: LASIK patients are advised to take 1-2 days off following the procedure although individual healing may require additional time. PRK patients are advised to take 1 week off of work and driving and individual healing may also require additional time to be taken.
Q: Is laser surgery covered by BC’s MSPor other 3rd party insurance?
A: Refractive surgery is not covered under MSP however some extended benefit policies may cover a portion of the costs. Each provider offers different coverage so it is best to contact your insurance company directly to find out.