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LASIK stands for LASER assisted IN-SITU KERATOMILEUSIS and is a combination of two refractive procedures: Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty (ALK) and Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK). This laser refractive surgery is capable of correcting a wide range of nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopoia), and astigmatism.

Here are answers to the questions patients commonly ask us. If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to contact our LASIK Coordinator. Or if you like, bring your list of questions to your Free LASIK exam with Dr. Winthrop.

In general, serious complications with LASIK are very rare. The most serious is infection. The infection rate with LASIK is 3:10,000. By contrast, contact lens wearers can experience an infection rate twenty times higher. Any complication can usually be treated without permanent damage. LASIK patients may also experience some starburst effects or glaring during the brief healing time.

Our patients are required to arrive at the surgery center at least thirty minutes prior to their appointed surgical time. An oral sedative is given, if needed, to alleviate any anxiety which may be experienced. Topical eye drops are used to numb the eyes.

The procedure lasts only a few minutes and is usually not painful. The sensation is one of pressure more than pain; this pressure sensation is felt at the beginning of the procedure and lasts less than 20 seconds. Many patients do not require pain medication following their procedure, unlike some other vision correction options.

Postoperatively, steroidal and antibiotic eye drops are used to aid in the healing and prevention of infection following surgery, and patients are to remain in the clinic for an additional thirty minutes, as the surgeon will want to conduct a postoperative exam.

You will leave the laser center wearing a protective eye shield. It is best to keep your eyes closed for the first four hours after the procedure. The clear plastic eye shield is worn at night for the first week. Rest, in conjunction with eyedrops, will aid in your complete recovery.

You may have heard this marketing term. All LASIK procedures must create a flap. There is no juried data or study to date that can say whether a microkeratome that employs a femptosecond laser or a blade is better for creating this flap. Both microkeratomes do a good job. The original goal with the development of the femptosecond laser was to provide more accurate flap thicknesses and fewer complications. But once they were in use, it was found that they had just as many, if not more, complications and, like blades, their flap thicknesses vary. Our complication rate with the Hansatome microkeratome is less than 1:5,000, a figure with which current femptosecond microkeratomes cannot compete.

Consider this analogy: you need work done under the hood on your engine. There are many ways to raise the hood, to gain access to the engine. What is most important is the work done on the engine. And that's where the difference really is. So the important question is this: do you have the most well-trained and experienced surgeon using the most advanced cornea-shaping system?

In most cases, these complications are caused by older lasers that treat too small an area or place the treatment off-center. The WaveLight® EX500 treats a very large optical zone, and the active eye tracker follows your eye (a normal eye moves involuntarily 20–30 times per second) to prevent these complications.

Almost anyone wearing glasses or contact lenses for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, who is over the age of 18 is a candidate for LASIK. LASIK is able to correct almost any refractive error; however, certain conditions may disqualify you from surgery.

Dr. Winthrop will complete a comprehensive eye exam prior to your surgery to determine if you are indeed a good candidate for this procedure.

The following characteristics make patients less than ideal candidates for LASIK. However, we urge you to see Dr. Winthrop to make that determination because there have been exceptions. See Dr. Winthrop to find the best vision correction alternative if:

  • You are under 18. In this case, your growth phase may not be fully completed, meaning that your eyes could still change.
  • You are pregnant or nursing. Pregnancy causes changes to your hormonal system. This can also cause your vision to change. It is therefore better to wait until your child is born and you have finished nursing.
  • You have uncontrolled glaucoma.
  • You have keratoconus, a corneal irregularity.
  • You have active inflammations of the eye, e.g., uveitis or iritis.
  • Your eyes have been infected by herpes simplex.
  • You have suffered previous severe injuries to the eye.
  • You have corneal scars as a result of injury or infections.
  • You suffer from other diseases of the eye such as AMD, diabetic retinopathy, cataract, or others.
  • You have very large pupils (beyond 8.5mm).
  • You have thin corneas.
  • You have severe dry eye.
  • You have unstable refractive errors.

Many patients are able to resume normal activities the day after LASIK. Typically, LASIK is performed every Friday and you are able to return to work on Monday. Some patients have traveled to ski resorts and spent the better part of the next day on the slopes! To be conservative, it is recommended that you stay at home and remain well-rested for at least the day after surgery.

Although LASIK has a very high success rate, with over 90% of patients gaining 20/20 vision or better, no vision correcting procedure can claim to totally eliminate everyone's need for glasses or contacts. And, as your eye ages and presbyopia occurs, you may still require reading glasses at some point.

"Getting the LASIK procedure was one of the best decisions I have made for my snowboarding and everyday life. I can see clearly and I am confident knowing that my vision will not blur. Now that I can see better, I can concentrate on more important things…like winning!"
Amy Sage
United States Collegiate
National Snowboard Champion