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LASIK FAQs: Part 2

Q: “How Does Laser Vision Correction Work?”

A: Laser vision correction is a surgical procedure that reshapes the cornea to improve vision. The cornea (surface of the eye) plays a key role in how clearly you can see images because of its ability to bend (refract) light as it enters the eye. Too much or too little curvature of the cornea usually results in nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. By removing microscopic pieces of corneal tissue, your ophthalmologist improves corneal focusing to sharpen your visual acuity.

Q: “What is the Difference Between PRK and LASIK?”

A: PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) and LASIK are both safe, FDA-approved procedures that correct vision using a computer-controlled, laser energy. While LASIK uses a non-thermal beam of light to reshape the cornea, PRK relies on an excimer laser (a type of ultraviolet laser) that removes the cornea's outer (epithelial) layer so that the cornea is completely exposed. Once this layer is gone, your ophthalmologist will carefully reshape the cornea's stromal layer and correct refractive errors causing vision problems. Results of LASIK and PRK surgery are comparable but patients are slower to recover from PRK due to regeneration of epithelial cells.

Q: “Can Both Eyes Be Treated Simultaneously with LASIK or PRK?”

A: Yes, you can have the procedure performed on both eyes in one session. However, because of PRK's longer recovery time, your ophthalmologist may do one eye and wait a week before treating the other eye with PRK.

Q: “How Long Does a LASIK Session Take?”

A: Within 15 to 20 minutes, your ophthalmologist will have completed the procedure in one eye and be ready to move on to the other eye. Having LASIK surgery performed on both eyes generally takes about an hour. When the procedure is finished, your doctor will put ointment or eye drops in your eyes, give you a few minutes to relax and then release you. Most patients see more clearly immediately after the treatment and enjoy progressive improvement over the following several weeks. Colors are much more vivid and distant objects are seen in high-definition clarity.

Q: “When Can I Start Driving Again?”

A: You can start driving as soon as you can see well enough to drive. Driving the day you have LASIK surgery is not recommended, since you will need to rest your eyes and avoid straining them. Most people return to work within 24 to 48 hours of undergoing LASIK.

Q: “How Many Follow-Up Appointments Will I Need After LASIK Surgery?”

A: You will need to return the following day, then again one week later and one month later. How many visits you make depends on the outcome of the surgery. Most patients make one more visit at six months and then do not need to return for any more check-ups.

Q: “What is the Cost of Laser Vision Correction?”

A: The price of LASIK or PRK varies among surgeons but typically ranges from $1000 to $3000 per eye. Many LASIK centers offer financing options for patients who want laser vision correction.

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