You have questions about LASIK, and Dr. Matthew Sharpe has the answers.
There are two types of laser vision correction surgery: LASIK and PRK (PRK: Photo-refractive Keratectomy is also called LASEK, Advanced Surface Ablation, or epi-LASIK) LASIK is the predominant type of laser vision correction, whereby a flap is made on the cornea, which is the clear dome of tissue overlying the iris (colored part of the eye). In this surgery, most people see well enough to drive and return to work the very next day. The vision will improve over several weeks, and it’s healing for several months, but the vision and comfort are typically functional within 4-6 hours. PRK surgery is very quick and painless. The recovery, however, takes longer and has more discomfort for the first two days. The vision gradually improves over weeks, but is slower than LASIK to clear. The results are the same, it’s the same laser, and is done for a variety of reasons. The most common reason for PRK is if your cornea is too thin for LASIK, but we do it if you had a different corneal procedure years ago or sometimes for vocational reasons such as going into certain branches of the military.
Most do not, but as of this writing, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Zillow in Seattle pay for it. However, you can use HSA/FSA funds which are equivalent to a discount equal to your tax rate! Learn more about our Pricing or Contact Us to learn more.
The average cost per eye for LASIK and PRK is $2300, with a range from $1500 to $3000. Higher cost may be due to a payment to your optometrist for “co-management.” Lower advertised cost may be for a lower myopia rate that ends up being $2000/eye for your prescription. At SharpeVision our pricing is clear and consistent, and the same for LASIK and PRK. See our prices here.
Roughly 90% of our patients are candidates for laser vision correction. The most common reasons for not being a candidate are that a different procedure such as an ICL or lens-based (cataract or clear lens exchange) are better suited to your needs. This is why we offer a range of refractive surgery so that nearly anyone with glasses can see clearly without them after surgery.
Of course there are risks to everything, and laser vision correction has risks. To put it in perspective however, the risk of laser vision correction is significantly less than the risks of wearing contact lenses. The conclusion of a 2016 article from the academic journal Ophthalmology stated: “Compared with contact lens wear, current LASIK technology improved ease of night driving, did not significantly increase dry eye symptoms, and resulted in higher levels of satisfaction at 1, 2, and 3 years follow-up.” Price MO et al. Ophthalmology. 2016;123(8):1659-1666.
There are very few problems with performing LASIK and PRK. We advise everyone to check out the surgeon’s credentials, experience, online presence and reviews, but to then visit the center and get an overall feel for the practice. Did you have a good feeling about the team, the physical appearance and processes internally? I believe that a higher volume of patients is good for practice, consistency and to hone the results. If you feel like they’re rushing you through it, they may still do a good job, but you might not have the same responsiveness as a smaller practice. I feel like we have the perfect combination at SharpeVision. We do a lot of procedures, which keeps us polished, but can respond to everyone individually.
At SharpeVision, we always follow our data to ensure that we’re getting what we think we are getting. Our patients achieve 20/20 or better uncorrected vision 96% of the time. In younger patients and those with lower (-3 or less) prescriptions, it’s as high as 99% of the time, and in our older patients with higher degrees of prescription (over -6), 89% achieve 20/20 or better uncorrected vision. Some people have never had 20/20 with glasses, and those people will likely get only as clear as they had with a good pair of glasses. Those that can see the 20/15 or 20/10 (better than 20/20) lines with glasses will likely get that same vision without glasses after LASIK or PRK.
If your vision is worse after laser than it was with glasses before the surgery, it’s almost always due to dry eyes or residual prescription. Both of these are fixable with time (for dry eyes which is almost always the cause of foggy vision for a month or more after LASIK) or with additional laser to touch it up (which is necessary approximately 1% of the time).
The risks of laser vision correction are lower than wearing contact lenses in terms of infections. The causes of blur in the first weeks to several months post-operative are almost always one of two things: Dry eyes, which almost everyone has temporarily to some degree, will blur vision intermittently and to varying degrees, but is temporary. The other reason for blur is if there is any residual prescription remaining that needs a little more laser to improve. This occurs in less than 2% of all our patients in our practice. The risk of needing more laser increases in our older patients (over 45 years old) and with higher degrees of astigmatism and nearsightedness (over -6 diopters of nearsightedness and over -1.5 diopters of astigmatism).
LASIK is safe long term. There are many things that can cause problems with your vision, but having had LASIK over 20 years ago myself, I know that two things are in everyone’s future if they live long enough: presbyopia (the loss of flexibility in the eye in our mid 40s that requires bifocals or taking off your glasses to see up close if you’re nearsighted) and cataracts, which occur gradually throughout our 60s onward until it affects our vision enough to decide to have them taken out. LASIK does not affect either of these conditions.
During the surgery, your doctor will thoroughly numb the surface of your eyes with eye drops. This makes it so you don’t feel the need to blink. He or she will then insert an instrument that holds your eyelids out of the way. If you try to blink, your eyelids will not move. Your surgeon will talk to you during the procedure just so you know what is coming next.
The only way to know for sure is by having a complete eye exam. At SharpeVision, we perform the entire exam completely free of charge. We scan your eyes to measure your corneal shape and thickness. We measure your prescription with different devices, and always remeasure on the day of your procedure. There are many factors that help us determine not only if you’re a candidate, but to set expectations and educate you as much as possible to help you make your best decision.
You might be too old for LASIK, but never too old to get out of glasses and contacts. One of the most important factors in determining whether or not you’re a candidate is your age. As we age, the lens inside our eye gets gradually more cloudy (typically in our 60s and 70s). By removing the clouded lens in your eye, we can potentially make it so you not only don’t need glasses, you see better than you have seen in years. Removing the cataract makes this possible.
The US FDA approved the lasers for those 18 years old and older. So while we can’t do LASIK on anyone under 18, we advise them to take care of their eyes, not to sleep in contacts, and monitor any progression of their nearsightedness.
No one ever has. However, LASIK is a surgical procedure and does have risks that vary by your age, prescription, and numerous other factors. There is no substitute for a good eye exam to prepare you for a life without contacts or glasses.
It really isn’t! Everyone feels some pressure, even with loads of numbing eye drops and once in a while someone will say that they felt a lot of pressure. Most everyone is apprehensive about the procedure, and I can certainly understand that. We’ll offer you a mild sedative to help calm your nerves, and our surgeon will talk to you to make sure you’re not startled, and know what’s coming next. It’s about 6 minutes total. We do our best to make it as easy as as humanly possible-and it really is easy!