On this page, we answer the most commonly asked questions about LASIK, from understanding the procedure and eligibility criteria to what to expect during recovery. We will be adding to this page continuously with more frequently asked questions.
LASIK General FAQs
What is LASIK?
LASIK works by changing the shape of the cornea with a laser, allowing the eye to focus light more effectively without glasses or contact lenses.
What does LASIK stand for?
LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis.
How long has LASIK been around?
LASIK was first developed in the early 1980s, and it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1999.
What kind of surgeon performs LASIK?
An ophthalmologist, who is a medical doctor specializing in eye surgery and treating diseases of the eye, can perform LASIK. A refractive surgeon is an ophthalmologist who has additional fellowship training or specifically specializes in laser vision correction like LASIK.
How do I choose a LASIK surgeon?
When choosing a LASIK surgeon, look for a refractive surgeon who is state-licensed, board-certified, and experienced in LASIK surgery. Don’t compare surgeons by price alone.
Review the doctor’s credentials on their website or look them up at the Academy of Ophthalmology website at https://www.aao.org. If you have a regular eye doctor, they may have recommendations for you.
Online reviews can be a helpful starting point, but they shouldn’t be your only criteria.
What is Custom Wavefront LASIK?
Conventional or standard LASIK corrects nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, known as refractive errors. The eye also has other errors in the way it focuses light, called higher order aberrations (HOAs). HOAs can be measured with wavefront technology and corrected during LASIK surgery.
Each eye’s wavefront is unique, like a fingerprint. Wavefront LASIK corrects these errors, achieving greater clarity of vision beyond what is achieved with conventional LASIK. Success rates with Custom Wavefront LASIK are very high, often better than regular LASIK. Check with your surgeon to see if you qualify.
What is the success rate of LASIK?
The success rate of LASIK is very high. According to multiple studies, over 95% of patients are satisfied with their vision after LASIK. However, individual results can vary and depend on factors such as the degree of refractive error and the patient’s overall eye health. Success rate also depends on proper screening and pre-LASIK evaluation.
What are the risks of LASIK?
LASIK technology is continuously evolving and improving, with significant advancements in safety, treatment accuracy, and vision outcomes since its introduction. With millions of procedures performed, a vast amount of data has been analyzed, allowing eye surgeons to optimize every aspect of LASIK, including eligibility criteria, safety, treatment amount, surgical techniques, and post-operative care.
However, like any procedure, there are risks involved. You should ask your eye surgeon for a detailed explanation of the risks. General risks include, infection, inflammation, over or under treatment, dry eye, glare and halos, lasik flap problems, and cornea weakness called ectasia.
What are alternatives to LASIK?
PRK or LASIK, which is better?
Both PRK and LASIK have their advantages and are effective at correcting vision. The best choice depends on individual factors such as the thickness of your cornea, your lifestyle, and your personal preferences. Your surgeon can help you make the best decision based on your specific circumstances.
Why choose PRK over LASIK?
PRK may be a better choice for individuals with thin corneas, dry eyes, or those who engage in contact sports. Unlike LASIK, PRK does not create a corneal flap, which eliminates the risk of flap-related complications. However, PRK has a longer recovery time compared to LASIK. Your surgeon can provide more detailed advice based on your specific situation.
Can you get LASIK twice?
In some cases, LASIK can be performed more than once. This is usually in cases where the first surgery did not achieve the desired results, or if the patient’s vision changes significantly over time. This is known as a LASIK enhancement.
LASIK Cost FAQs
How much does LASIK cost?
The cost of LASIK varies based on several factors, but the national range is between $1800-$2500 per eye. Differences in price can be due to whether the LASIK surgery is blade vs blade-less (all-laser), and conventional vs Custom Wavefront.
All-laser Custom Wavefront LASIK surgery usually costs around $2100-$2500 per eye. Beware of advertisements claiming LASIK can be performed for less than $300 per eye. Most patients will not qualify for this pricing due to high prescriptions and astigmatism.
Is financing available for LASIK?
LASIK is typically not covered by medical insurance. The most common financing option is Care Credit, available at most doctor practices that offer LASIK. You’ll need to apply for approval, which usually requires a credit check. Payments typically range from $200-500 per month with financing.
Does Medicare cover LASIK Surgery?
Typically, Medicare does not cover LASIK surgery as it’s considered a cosmetic or elective procedure.
LASIK Eligibility Criteria FAQs
Am I a candidate for LASIK?
Unfortunately, this question cannot be accurately answered online. Your LASIK surgeon will consider dozens of factors to ensure you qualify and that the procedure is a safe option for you. However, certain factors can disqualify you or delay your eligibility, such as eye disease, pregnancy or nursing, rapidly changing prescription, severe dry eye, cataracts, and young age.
How old do I need to be for LASIK?
Most surgeons require you to be at least 18-21 years old. This rule is not set in stone. Discuss the options with your surgeon if you are younger.
Can I have LASIK if I also have cataracts?
During your LASIK evaluation, your surgeon will look for cataracts. If you are diagnosed with cataracts, then LASIK is probably not a good option for you. LASIK cannot reverse the vision loss from cataracts. You will then need to discuss your options with the surgeon about managing the cataracts.
Can I have LASIK if I am pregnant?
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can change the shape of the eye and the prescription. It is recommended that you wait a few months after delivery.
Can I have LASIK if I am nursing?
Hormonal changes while nursing can change the shape of the eye and the prescription. It is recommended that you wait a few months after you have stopped nursing.
Can LASIK correct astigmatism?
Yes, LASIK can correct astigmatism, along with nearsightedness and farsightedness. It works by reshaping the cornea to correct the way light enters the eye.
LASIK Procedure FAQs
Before LASIK, you should stop wearing contact lenses for a period of time advised by your surgeon, usually a week or two. This is because contacts can change the shape of your cornea. You should also avoid using eye makeup, creams, or lotions the day before and the day of surgery to reduce the risk of infection.
How long is the LASIK procedure?
Usually, the procedure takes about 15-20 minutes for both eyes. You will likely be asked to arrive 30-60 minutes before your appointment.
Does LASIK surgery hurt?
Prior to the start of the procedure, you will be given some oral medication to ensure you are fully relaxed. The eye is numbed with eye drops so that you will feel no pain. However, you may feel pressure for a few moments during the procedure. This doesn’t last long and is usually only 1-2 minutes of the entire procedure.
LASIK Recovery FAQs
What to expect after LASIK?
After LASIK, you may experience some temporary side effects such as dry eyes, glare, halos around lights, or starbursts. These usually improve over time. You’ll have a follow-up appointment with your surgeon the day after surgery to check your vision and eye health. Most people can return to work and normal activities within a few days.
Do I need to use eye drops after LASIK?
Yes, you will be placed on an antibiotic eye drop and an anti-inflammatory eye drop to control the healing. These are usually used for about 1 week after the procedure. Make sure you tell your eye doctor about any existing medication allergies.
What eye drops do I need to use after LASIK?
After LASIK, you’ll typically be prescribed antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection and steroid eye drops to control inflammation. You may also need to use lubricating eye drops to help with dryness. Always follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding the use of eye drops.
Can I drive after LASIK?
Prior to the procedure, you may be given medication to relax you. This can impair your ability to drive safely. It is recommended that you have a family member or friend drive you home immediately after the procedure. You should also do the same for your post-operative appointment the next day, and until your surgeon determines that your vision is good enough to drive legally.
How long will my vision be blurry after LASIK?
Some blurriness or hazy vision is normal immediately after LASIK, but it usually improves within a few days. Typically, the vision is the most blurry the night of the surgery. Significant improvement is noticed the next morning. Full visual recovery varies among individuals but typically occurs within a few weeks.
How long after LASIK can I see 20/20?
Most patients notice a significant improvement in their vision immediately after LASIK, but it can take a few days to a few weeks to achieve optimal vision, including 20/20 vision. This varies among individuals and depends on the healing process.
LASIK Restrictions FAQs
How long after LASIK can I wear makeup?
Most surgeons recommend waiting at least one to two weeks after LASIK before applying eye makeup. This is to avoid potential infection and irritation during the initial healing period. This is also to avoid accidentally disrupting the position of the LASIK flap.
How long after LASIK can I rub my eyes?
You should avoid rubbing your eyes for at least two weeks after LASIK to prevent dislodging the corneal flap.
How long after LASIK can I go swimming?
You should avoid swimming for at least two weeks after LASIK to prevent potential infection. Always consult with your surgeon for personalized advice.