Ilex Eye: Eye Doctors in Waterloo

Laser Vision Correction (LVC)

Am I a candidate, and if so, for which procedure?

The majority of patients with low to moderate nearsighted and/or astigmatic prescriptions are candidates for laser surgery. Limiting factors can include a very high prescription, thinner than average cornea, larger than average pupil diameter, significant dry eye, and a history of poor wound healing or scarring. While these factors may preclude LASIK, patients may still be candidates for other surgical procedures – be sure to ask your optometrist for details about your particular situation.

How do I get started, and where do things end?

Things begin with a comprehensive examination, with some additional procedures to assess prescription and corneal thickness. If your optometrist feels you are a candidate for laser surgery, the next step is a consultation with the surgeon, who will repeat some tests, and perform specialized corneal mapping and aberration assessments. If there are no contraindications, your surgery and post-operative appointments with your optometrist will be scheduled. Our current fees include your post-op care for both eyes for one year, and are $705 for LASIK and $795 for PRK. Following that, it is recommended that you continue annual assessments for at least a few years; your optometrist will outline an examination schedule based upon your individual situation. Remember, we work for you, not the laser surgeon, and our role is to advocate in your best interests.

What is Laser Vision Correction?

For many years, the primary methods of correcting vision were prescription eyeglasses and/or contact lenses.  Surgical alternatives like radial keratotomy were available, but relatively unpredictable and uncommon. In the mid-1990s, ophthalmologists began using cool laser technology to gently reshape the corneal surface, primarily to correct low to moderate amounts of nearsightedness. Gradually, as technology and surgical skills have improved, more prescriptions can now be corrected, including higher amounts of nearsightedness, moderate astigmatism, and limited farsightedness.

What's the difference between PRK and LASIK?

The first popular laser procedure was Photorefractive Keratectomy, or PRK.  This involved removing a thin layer of corneal tissue (the epithelium), using a laser to reshape the curvature, and applying a contact lens to act as a bandage allowing the epithelium to re-grow over several days. Anti-infective and anti-inflammatory drops are required for several months, and until the epithelium heals, initial comfort can be an issue.

Shortly thereafter, LASIK gained popularity given its relatively rapid healing time, quick visual recovery, and improved post-operative comfort.  In LASIK, the surgeon uses the laser to create a hinged corneal flap: this allows the laser to be applied below the surface of the cornea, reducing inflammation, discomfort, and recovery time.

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