Larson Eye Center
Common Questions

A: What exactly is laser vision correction?

The excimer laser is used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. The laser gently sculpts and molds the outer surface of your eye, called the cornea, in order to improve your vision. The light gently pulses to remove a microscopic amount of tissue flattening the curvature of the cornea, and allowing images to be more sharply focused on the retina. The excimer laser has passed extensive scrutiny from the FDA and many medical universities. The laser can be used in both Epi-LASIK/PRK and LASIK.

A: Is there any pain?

The surgery itself is generally painless due to the anesthetic drops. Epi-LASIK/PRK may offer some moderate pain, similar to soap in your eyes for the first 24 to 36 hours. Eye drops and oral medications can relieve this discomfort. The LASIK procedure generally offers less pain with a stinging sensation for approximately one hour after surgery that is usually relieved by artificial teardrops.

A: What are the goals of laser vision correction surgery?

The goals of surgery are to reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses. By improving the uncorrected vision in patients, Epi-LASIK/PRK and LASIK allow patients to go about their daily routines less dependent on corrective lenses. Going to surgery with realistic expectations is one of the most important factors in determining if laser vision correction will be successful for you.

A: Can surgery be performed on both eyes at the same time?

It may be, or it can be performed on one eye at a time. This is an issue to discuss with your surgeon. Most patients choose to do both at the same time because of convenience.

A: Do I need to take time off work?

We recommend that you schedule two to four days off from work. Patients who undergo Epi-LASIK/PRK may need to take several days off before returning to work. Epi-LASIK/PRK patients generally can drive approximately five days after surgery and are able to work at a computer approximately five to seven days after surgery. The time varies from person to person and is not an indicator of how well they are doing.

LASIK generally provides quicker recovery with most patients driving by the second or third day. This enables patients to return to work in a shorter amount of time.

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A: How old do I have to be for laser vision correction surgery?

Dr. Larson would prefer patients to be at least 18 years old with a stable prescription. There is no upper age limit but will vary with your ocular health as you age.

A: What is the difference between LASIK and Epi-LASIK/PRK?

LASIK is a newer procedure that many refractive surgeons now prefer over Epi-LASIK/PRK. The surgeon performing LASIK uses a motor-powered microkeratome to create a "flap". The flap is then lifted and reflected back, allowing the laser beam to remodel the corneal tissue underneath. Afterward, the flap is gently positioned back onto the cornea without requiring any stitches. Vision is restored quickly and the patient's discomfort is minimal. Most patients report greater comfort post operatively with LASIK than with Epi-LASIK/PRK, and can generally drive two to three days after the surgery.

Epi-LASIK/PRK is a procedure where the outer membrane of the cornea is gently polished away by an instrument, then the excimer laser uses light pulses to flatten the top surface of the cornea, 0.2 microns at a time (less than the thickness of a human hair). This flattens the curvature of the cornea, allowing images to be more sharply focused on the retina. Following the surgery, a special contact lens is applied and worn for three days. It takes approximately three days for the eye surface membrane to heal and a few weeks to months for vision to fully improve to its best level. During recovery time, vision is approximately 20/40.

A: Which procedure is best for me?

This question is best answered in consultation with the surgeon. A detailed examination of your eyes will be performed and then a discussion of possible surgeries. The procedure will be tailored to your specific needs and prescription.

A: What are the side effects of Laser Vision Correction?

The most common side effects are light sensitivity and halos. Most patients complain of oncoming headlights as very bothersome during the first week after surgery. Also working at a computer screen during the first few days may cause excessive tiredness of the eyes. Under-correction or over-correction may occur and glasses may be needed after surgery to restore better vision. In some instances, irregular corneal curvatures and/or haze may be created and glasses may not restore perfect vision.

A more detailed discussion of these issues will take place during your evaluation and during the viewing of the videotape consent.

A: Does my pupil size matter?

Some studies indicate that patients with large pupil size may have greater glare and halos. But glare varies from patient to patient.

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A: What are the most common complaints following LASIK surgery?

These complaints are due to dry eyes. Your eyes are not drier after surgery, but there is a decrease in tear efficiency. The cornea surface is flatter and the eyelid must conform to the new shape during the first 3-6 months. The cornea is desensitized due to contact lens wear and the laser also desensitizes the cornea. This causes your blink reflex to decrease. Patients need to use artificial tears after surgery to alleviate this complaint.

A: Can I wear contact lenses after I have surgery?

Yes. Patients having LASIK and Epi-LASIK/PRK may wear contact lenses one to two months after the surgery, if they so desire. Some patients want to change the color of their eyes or correct a small remaining residual correction with contact lenses. Very few patients elect to do this.

A: What if I am currently wearing contact lenses?

When you schedule your evaluation, it is important to follow certain requirements. If you are wearing hard or gas permeable contacts , they must be out of your eyes for at least two to three weeks prior to your evaluation. Soft contact lenses must be out five to seven days prior to your evaluation. Staying out of your contact lenses enables accurate measurements of your prescription.

A: Will I need reading glasses in the future?

As our eyes age, we slowly lose our ability to see up close. This is a natural progression of our eyes until we need reading glasses to read or sew. Surgery will not accelerate or decelerate the natural aging of our eyes. Everyone will wear reading glasses in their lifetime.

A: Does insurance pay for the surgery?

Most plans do not cover this elective procedure, but it is worth the effort to confirm this with your insurance plan. The majority of patients pay in full with check, credit card or cashier's check. Some patients finance their surgery. If your employer sponsors a flexible benefits plan, you may use pre-tax dollars to pay for medical expenses not covered by regular health insurance.

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Hinsdale Office: 126 West First Street, Hinsdale, IL 60521 Tel (630) 325-5200 Fax (630) 325-5569
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