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Is LASIK Right for You?

Is LASIK Right for You?

Contact lenses and glasses are a part of the daily life of the majority of people. To some of those people, the use of glasses and contacts is not conducive to their daily life, and that is why they look for alternative methods to seeing clearly. Refractive surgery is an alternative to wearing glasses or contacts and can permanently change someone’s vision.

Refractive surgery became more mainstream in the 1990’s, with LASIK being the primary type of surgery. The type of laser used back then was not as sophisticated as it is now, so many patients would have regression of their refractive error, needing a ‘touch up’ a few years after the original surgery. However, now the laser technology has improved and most patients can see clearly for years to come without any problems.

There are many types of refractive surgery, such as: LASIK, PRK, SMILE, and Visian ICL just to name a few. The most common of these surgeries are LASIK and PRK. During LASIK surgery a flap is created on the cornea and the treatment is done under the flap. The advantages to this surgery is that the recovery time is minimal. Usually the patient may feel discomfort for 24 hours and can see clearly the day after surgery. The difference with PRK is that there is no flap and the treatment is done to the outer surface of the cornea. The recovery time can be longer and more discomfort compared to LASIK. The surgeon will discuss the best options with the patient depending on the shape of the patient’s cornea and what their best visual outcome will be.

Here are a few things to expect before and after surgery. Before your surgery your optometrist will perform a dilated exam to make sure your eyes are healthy and to make sure an accurate prescription is found for the surgeon. Make sure you have a current pair of glasses, as you will need to stay out of contact lenses 2-4 weeks depending on what type of contacts you’re using. Once you have surgery, you will need follow up care with your optometrist who will be comanaging with your surgeon. The follow up schedule will depend on the type of surgery but most will need to be seen at least 1 day, 1 week, and 1 month after surgery. These visits are crucial since you may not know of certain complications that are only visible under the biomicroscope and will need attention.

Refractive surgery is a great alternative for many people. However, there should be a few things to keep in mind when considering this permanent change. Dry eye syndrome can be a complication of LASIK. Even though it is not sight threatening, it can affect quality of life. If you already have dry eyes, make sure you let your optometrist know before being considered for LASIK. Something else that should be considered is the need for reading glasses. Everyone starts to lose their focusing ability during their forties. This is also true for those that have had LASIK. Even though refractive surgery takes away the need for glasses in the distance, you will still need reading glasses after a certain age.

Refractive surgery is a great option for many patients who do not enjoy or tolerate contact lenses or glasses. If you would like an alternative, ask your optometrist at your next eye exam if you’re a good candidate for refractive surgery.

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