Vision by Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute

Understanding LASIK

Common Questions

We are frequently asked the following questions about LASIK and our treatment. If you have additional questions or would like clarification, please contact us.

 

  • LASIK at PCLI

  • +How long have you been performing LASIK?

    Our surgical team has performed LASIK almost exclusively as their laser vision correction procedure of choice since February 1996. We also provide PRK when surface laser vision correction is needed or wanted.

  • +How many operations have you performed?

    We have completed over 90,000 LASIK procedures. Our surgeons are among the most experienced in the world, routinely performing 300 to 400 cases every month.

  • +Can you guarantee 20/20 vision?

    Unfortunately, no surgical procedure can be guaranteed. Instead of hoping to forever eliminate your need for corrective lenses, a more realistic goal is to reduce your dependence on glasses and contact lenses. To learn more about your approximate chances of achieving 20/20 vision, please refer to our LASIK Success Rates document. Copies are also available from our Refractive Surgery Counselors.

  • +How many patients require enhancements or retreatment?

    Because of our surgeons’ innovative techniques, we are able to treat people requiring high amounts of correction. Those with higher degrees of correction can expect higher probabilities of requiring retreatment. People with average or moderate degrees of correction can expect a 5-10% chance of needing an enhancement. Those who undergo very high amounts of correction can expect increased chances that touch-up treatment will be required.

  • +What is the cost if enhancement treatment is required?

    If our surgeons perform your initial treatment, recommended retreatment or enhancement surgery is free of charge for life—as long as you are under the care of your optometric physician and are examined annually.

  • +How much does the surgeon’s skill have to do with good results?

    Some people mistakenly assume that with the high tech instruments used for LASIK the surgeon’s role in achieving superb outcomes is minimal. This is not the case. The surgeon’s skill and judgement are the most critical factors in achieving excellent visual outcomes with LASIK. The surgeon’s experience and expertise become even more crucial in the occurrence of an intra-operative complication. Although the equipment is highly sophisticated, the surgeon is directly involved in positioning the instruments and aligning your eye under the laser. We have learned that the accuracy and impeccable precision of numerous small details, controlled directly by the surgeon, are the key to achieving excellent outcomes.

  • +Are some lasers better than others?

    Laser companies have a lot to gain by leading consumers to believe that their machines produce better results than their competitors’. However, this is usually not the case. There are several very good lasers on the market, but excellent surgical outcomes are much more dependent on the expertise of the surgeon. An excellent surgeon will achieve excellent outcomes with whatever laser platform he or she chooses to use. You can feel confident knowing that our surgeons carefully research the most current machines and continue to seek out the most refined laser technology. 

  • +How often are your lasers calibrated?

    We constantly monitor calibration and make tiny adjustments, if needed, between cases. Rather than being dependent on the manufacturer’s service calls, our advanced laser technicians keep our instruments maintained and precisely calibrated at all times. You may be comforted to know that our maintenance and calibration specifications exceed those provided by the laser manufacturer.

  • +How long do you require contact lenses to be removed before treatment?

    As contact lenses modify the shape of the cornea, they must be left out long enough for your eyes to return to their natural shape. Ask your optometric physician how long you should discontinue wearing them before your evaluation and surgery.

  • +Can I have laser vision correction if I am pregnant?

    No, you should not have any type vision correction surgery when you are pregnant, nursing a baby, or expect to become pregnant within six months of treatment. Hormonal changes that make the body retain more fluid can cause your prescription to change during pregnancy. Our advice is to wait at least 3 months after you are no longer pregnant and no longer nursing before having laser vision correction.

  • +Will insurance cover the cost of treatment?

    Although LASIK is an elective procedure, a number of plans are starting to provide full or partial 
coverage. You will definitely want to check with your employer or insurance provider.

  • +Can I make monthly payments?

    Yes, we offer flexible monthly payment plans with excellent terms. For more details, call our Refractive Surgery Counselors toll free at 800-884-7254.

  • +Will your doctors do all my follow-up care?

    Our doctors will work in close communication with your family eye doctor to coordinate your follow-up care. We are focused on providing specialized medical eye care and surgery and the patients we treat are referred back to the care of their family eye doctor as soon as their condition is stable. Should any complication arise, we will work closely with your doctor and be available for any care you may require. 

  • +If I am thinking about LASIK, why is an optometrist the best place to start?

    One of the reasons your optometric physician can best determine if you are a candidate for LASIK is because he or she has followed your eye care needs and knows your vision history.  Their pre-operative input and post-operative care is integral to obtaining a satisfactory result.  Optometric physicians  regularly provide before and after LASIK care.  Over time, they have been able to see first-hand the outcomes of numerous surgeons. This unique opportunity gives your optometric physician excellent knowledge to help guide you to surgeons who consistently obtain excellent results with minimal complications.

  • +Does my optometrist have a financial incentive to refer to your surgeons?

    No. Doctors who provide before and after-surgery care establish their fees based on the care they provide. No portion of our fee for LASIK is shared with referring doctors. We have also purposely steered clear of shared ownership of our lasers and facilities with other eye doctors to prevent the possibility of financial incentive for referrals. The relationship we have with doctors who trust us with their patients has been built by providing years of consistent, excellent care. 

  • +Who can I talk to about my LASIK questions?

    The best sources of information are your optometric physician and our Refractive Surgery Counselors. You can call our counselors toll-free at 800-884-7254.

  • +Why do I need follow-up care with my optometrist after surgery?

    To achieve the best possible visual outcome, it is very important that your eyes are carefully examined and your vision closely monitored during your recovery. Examinations are prescribed at significant intervals to ensure proper healing and stability of vision. Follow-up care involves monitoring:

       • the condition and healing of the flap

       • your eye medications

       • your internal eye pressure

       • possible infection and healing complications

       • your uncorrected and best corrected vision

       • the need for enhancements

       • any near vision problems

       • the continued health of your eyes.

  • The Treatment

  • +Does LASIK hurt?

    No, your eyes will be numb from the anesthetic eye drops so you will feel minimal if any discomfort. You will feel a slight pressure sensation—like someone resting a finger on top of your closed eyelid—for a few seconds while the flap is created.

  • +How will I keep my eyes from moving when the laser is working?

    This is a valid concern as we have found that even the smallest eye movements during the laser procedure can result in less than satisfactory visual outcomes. Instead of relying on you to keep your eyes still or trusting computerized eye trackers that are known to have shortcomings, we have developed a video-assisted eye stabilization system. This unique technology enables our surgeon to hold your eyes precisely on target (within 1/100ths of an inch) so you don’t have to worry. 

  • +How long does the treatment take?

    Although the actual laser time is usually less than a minute for each eye, patients are in the laser suite 10-15 minutes for both eyes. However, there is some preparation time before surgery when we double check critical eye measurements and perform additional tests. Plan to be in our office 2-3 hours on the day of your treatment.

  • +How will I keep my eyes open during surgery?

    The surgeon gently inserts an eye spring between your eyelids to keep your eye open during the procedure. 

  • +Can my family and friends watch?

    Yes, we actually encourage family involvement in your surgery. Your friends or family are invited to be with you and may view the entire surgery from our glass-walled observation area. A video camera attached to the surgeon’s microscope provides a close-up view of surgery on a TV monitor. One of our staff will accompany your guests and explain the procedure.

  • After LASIK

  • +How well will I be able to see right after surgery?

    Most people notice immediate improvement. Sitting up from the procedure they can often see the time on the clock and see details in the room. However, due to thick lubricating drops placed in your eyes, your vision will likely be blurry for several hours. 

  • +Will my eyes be patched after surgery?

    No, but you will be given clear plastic shields to wear to protect your eyes while sleeping the first night.

  • +Can I drive home after LASIK?

    No, you should not drive after LASIK for at least 24 hours. In addition to having blurry vision, a mild sedative taken before the procedure can make you drowsy.

  • +Will I need to use eye drops after the procedure?

    Yes, you will be given printed instructions on using medicated eye drops for one week and moisturizing comfort drops as often as needed.

  • +How long is the visual recovery period?

    It varies with the individual since each person heals at a different rate. Most people experience some fluctuating vision for 2 to 4 weeks following surgery. Achieving your best vision can take up to 3 months. 

  • +What side effects can I expect after surgery?

    In the first few days and weeks, you will likely notice some of these normal side effects:

       • Watery eyes—especially the first 6 hours.

       • Temporary discomfort (like an eyelash in your eye)—usually for the first 12 to
         24 hours. You will be given eye drops to use for pain, if needed.

       • Fluctuating vision—normal for about 3-4 weeks while the eye is healing.

       • Light sensitivity—usually decreases over the first few weeks, but you may
         need to wear sunglasses more than usual.

       • Halo effect—around bright lights at night, but usually diminishes with time.

  • +How secure is the flap after surgery?

    When the flap is folded back over the treated area after the laser treatment, it naturally adheres and 
is held to the surface of the eye by 4 natural forces within the body: 

       1. Within seconds—the exposed tissue sticks together as the flap returns to
           its position on the cornea.

       2. Within minutes—endothelial cells pump fluid from the cornea to create a
           natural vacuum that further suctions the flap down. 

       3. Within hours—epithelial cells grow over the edge of the flap to further
           hold it down. 

       4. Within 6 weeks—the healing process bonds the flap in its original position.

  • +How long will I be off work?

    We recommend allowing 1-3 days away from work. But, depending on how well you see and the type of work you do, many people are able to return to work the next day. If your job involves risk to your eyes from flying objects or dirty air, you may want to take off a few more days. 

  • +Can I play sports after LASIK?

     

    Yes, but it is always wise to wear safety glasses when playing contact sports. You should definitely plan to wear them for the first month after LASIK.
     
  • LASIK Results

  • +If I’m corrected for distance vision, will I still be able to see up close?

    As the eye ages the ability to focus for close work diminishes. Around 40 most people require some reading correction, and even earlier for some. However, your optometric physician can best determine if you could benefit from reading glasses or computer glasses after surgery.

  • +If I wear reading glasses now, will I still need them after LASIK?

    Yes, you will likely still need them for near vision after treatment.

  • +If I don’t get fully corrected, can I be retreated?

    Usually, but further treatment may be limited by the remaining thickness of your cornea. When your vision has stabilized, your optometric physician can help you determine if enhancement treatment is something to consider. However, due to the inherent risks of surgery, we do not generally perform enhancements unless your vision is 20/30 or worse. 

  • +Is LASIK permanent?

    Yes, vision is permanently changed by LASIK. However, there can be some regression, especially with higher amounts of correction. When regression occurs, retreatment is sometimes an option. 

  • +Will having LASIK interfere with cataract surgery when I’m older?

    No, but the surgeon will need to know that you had LASIK so he or she can accurately select the correct power for the artificial lens implant.

  • +Will I have to wear corrective lenses after surgery?

    We try to fully correct your vision, but since each eye responds a little bit differently to surgery, a more realistic goal is to lessen your dependence on corrective lenses. If you still need glasses, they will likely be lighter and thinner, and you will probably be able to function more easily without them.

  • +Can I still wear contact lenses after LASIK?

    Wearing contact lenses after LASIK can be difficult. To learn more, ask your optometric physician.

  • +Do you track patient satisfaction?

    Yes, we regularly ask patients to provide feedback on their visual outcomes as well as our customer service. Constant input enables us to fine-tune and maintain our high level of care.