Your Most Common LASIK Questions Answered
All those answers to those frequently asked LASIK questions and more, in due time!
An Interview With a Washington DC LASIK Surgical Coordinator
My name is Mary and I’m the Marketing Coordinator for Eye Doctors of Washington. I wear glasses and contacts — since I started working at EDOW, I’ve had a lot of interest in and questions about LASIK! I sat down with Brittany, one of our LASIK Surgical Coordinators to find out some answers to common LASIK questions!
Q: Why do I have to stop wearing my contacts before LASIK?
A: Good question! If you have looked into LASIK, you may have heard that you have to be out of your contacts for anywhere from one day to weeks before your preoperative exam. But why is that and why do different doctors have different rules? The reason LASIK surgeons ask that you be out of your contacts before LASIK preoperative testing is so that we can obtain accurate measurements and testing of your eye. When we conduct preoperative testing we’re looking at the shape of your cornea, and contacts can affect the shape of your cornea, so taking them out for an extended period of time ensures that we get the most accurate measurements possible, to ensure the success of your LASIK surgery. It’s for this reason that we ask that our patients stop wearing their contacts for 1 week for soft lenses, 2 weeks for toric lenses, and 2-3 weeks per decade of wear for rigid gas permeable lenses.
Q: Why can’t I get LASIK the same day I have my consultation?
A: When patients come in for their LASIK consultation, they have typically been wearing contact lenses — which is why our consultations and pre-operative testing are usually separate appointments. Another benefit is that you have more time with your surgical coordinator and surgeon so you can ask any questions and have time to think over your decision. LASIK is a wonderful, life-changing experience, but it’s also a big decision and we always want to make sure that our patients have taken the time to understand it so that they have the proper expectations and mindset.
Q: What makes me a good candidate for LASIK?
A: There are a lot of factors that determine LASIK candidacy:
- Age: The typical range for LASIK candidacy is 22-52. Usually, your prescription becomes stable by your mid-20s. Then, as you age into your 40s and 50s, you may begin to develop presbyopia and cataracts, which may cause your prescription to change, and keep you from being a candidate for LASIK. (However, there are many other options available that can improve your vision if it has worsened due to presbyopia or cataracts!)
- Refractive Error: LASIK is most suited for people with prescriptions between +6.00 and -12.00. Patients who are very farsighted (with a prescription above +6.00) are not generally candidates.
- Eye Health and Overall Health: Conditions that may affect your candidacy include keratoconus, glaucoma, and cataracts. If you are pregnant, we recommend that you wait until at least 3 months postpartum and not currently breastfeeding to undergo LASIK.
- Dry Eye: If you have acute dry eye, we may need to address this first and get it under control before proceeding with LASIK or PRK. If you have chronic dry eye, you may not be a candidate.
Corneal Anatomy: You must have enough corneal thickness to get LASIK because LASIK is making adjustments to the curvature of your cornea, so there needs to be enough to work with.
Q: What does LASIK preoperative testing entail?
A: Preoperative testing consists of 3 things:
- History: We will ask you questions surrounding your medical history, your eye health, and your motivations for getting LASIK. Knowing your motivations for getting LASIK allows us to make sure that your procedure will meet your expectations and allow us to answer any questions you might have.
- Physical Examination: We will measure your visual acuity, a refraction, and complete dilated eye examination, much like a routine eye exam.
- LASIK Testing: We will use corneal topography and pachymetry to map the curvature and thickness of your corneas. We will also test you for dry eye. If you have dry eyes, it is important to get any existing symptoms under control before proceeding with LASIK, as it can increase your risk of postoperative dryness. Dry eye symptoms are often caused by contact use, which is another reason why it is beneficial for you to be out of your contacts before your pre-operative testing.
Q: Do my eyes need to be dilated during a LASIK pre-op examination?
A: Yes! Dilating your eyes gives us a more complete image of your eye, giving us a better view of your retinal health and a more accurate measurement of your true refractive error, by reducing potential eye accommodation.
Q: Do I need to take off work the day after LASIK?
A: Not necessarily! On surgery day, you will be in our office for about 2 hours, and the procedure itself only takes about 10 minutes. You will need someone to drive you home, and we do suggest taking a nap once you get home. But the next day, you can work, shower, exercise, and of course… see!
Q: Can I fly after LASIK?
A: Yes! While the change in cabin pressure may cause your ears to pop, it will not harm your LASIK, even if you’ve had surgery that very day. The only cause for concern when flying is the dry air. After LASIK, your eyes may be dry and irritated, and dry eyes are more susceptible to infection. So if you’re in a plane or going skiing in cold, dry mountain air, be sure to bring your lubricating eye drops with you. Keep those eyes moisturized and enjoy the view!
Q:What happens if I don’t use my drops after LASIK surgery?
A: You know how if you go to the dentist and say, “I floss everyday” they can tell you’re lying if your gums start bleeding? In the same way, if you come in for a post op appointment and haven’t been properly adhering to the drops schedule, what we may see is a lot of dryness. Post operative compliance and coming in for post operative appointments is important to ensuring your satisfaction with LASIK and preventing dryness.
Q: How long does LASIK last?
A: LASIK essentially lasts forever. However, as we age, our refractive errors can change due to presbyopia and the development of cataracts. LASIK cannot prevent these changes.
Read more here: Is Lasik Permanent?
Q: What separates EDOW from other practices that perform LASIK?
A: We’re not a factory. Each LASIK procedure is customized to fit your individual needs. We pride ourselves on a low enhancement rate, meaning that the vast majority of our patients don’t need an adjustment to their LASIK, but if they did, it would be covered by our lifetime guarantee. Lastly, we are here to take care of your eyes for life, not just for LASIK. Unlike many other LASIK practices, we are home to world class specialized ophthalmologists, and we offer comprehensive eye care.
Learn more about our practice’s dedication to patient care and our doctors’ experience and accolades here: Our Practice.
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Have more vision correction questions, or want to see if you’re a candidate for LASIK? Contact us today!
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