More than 95% of performed surgeries result in vision of 20/20 or better, making laser eye surgery one of the most effective elective surgeries you can receive. Not only that, but with a lower than 1% complication rate, it’s also one of the safest.
For the millions of Americans that have had it, laser eye surgery has proven to be a safe and effective way to correct refractive errors and restore ideal visual acuity. It is one of the most popular surgeries in America.
Like any elective procedure, you can’t just jump into the operating room. We meet with our patients to first assess their eyes for candidacy, ensuring that their eyes are healthy and suitable for the procedure.
In addition to a comprehensive examination to determine health, we also take detailed measurements of your cornea to not only affirm the refractive error, but to inform the ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) regarding the specific correction required from the procedure.
Laser eye surgery can be performed via a variety of procedures. Generally, it is a fast procedure with minimal complications and a quick recovery
LASIK – Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis – This is the most common version of laser eye surgery performed in Virginia today. It involves using a specialized tool to create a flap in the eye’s epithelial cells (the thin layer of cells on top of the eye and cornea) to expose the cornea, where a powerful laser then reshapes the cornea to correct the refractive error that causes impaired vision.
LASEK – Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis – LASEK is very similar to LASIK, though instead of creating a flap in the epithelial cells, an entire section of the cells are removed during the surgery. The epithelial section is replaced once the surgery is complete.
PRK – Photoreactive Keratectomy – Again similar to both LASIK and LASEK, PRK differs in that the cellular flap is removed and discarded (the eye will regrow the cells in a few days). This version of the surgery is ideal for people where LASIK or LASEK are not ideal options (due to corneal thickness or other factors).
During surgery – The procedure takes approximately 90 minutes per eye from start to finish, though only 10 – 20 minutes of that time is spent in the operating room. Your eye will be numbed and cleaned, and then the procedure itself will take place.
During the procedure you will feel pressure on your eye while the surgeon works, and you will also see and smell new and unfamiliar things. This is normal and, despite how alarming it may feel or sound, is no cause for concern.
When ready, you will be asked to stare at a fixed point for 10 – 90 seconds (as dictated by the surgeon) while the laser gets to work. Once complete, your eye will be patched and you will be monitored briefly before being discharged.
Note: the procedure varies somewhat based on the version of surgery you are having. We will set appropriate expectations prior to surgery based on the procedure best suited for you, and the surgical team will reaffirm these steps the day of.
After surgery – We will meet with you within 48 hours of surgery to assess your eyes and ensure that the operated eye is recovering as expected. If you are experiencing discomfort we may provide eye drops or oral medications to alleviate symptoms.
Potential complications – Less than 1% of procedures result in long-term complications, though complications remain a risk. We will inform you in more detail during your consultation so that you have the information needed to make an informed decision.
Side effects from surgery, if any, are usually temporary. However, longer-term side effects are possible and happen in rare circumstances. Potential side effects include: