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What to Know About LASIK

At North Shore Eye Care, we believe that the best patient is an educated patient. Here are seven things you should know about LASIK - but probably don't.

Seven Things You Should Know

Female Doctor standing in front of an eye chart

There is no such thing as a risk-free surgical procedure. As a patient of North Shore Eye Care, you can expect that your surgeon will advise you honestly and openly about the risks and benefits of LASIK before you decide to undergo the surgery.

However, there are also many misconceptions about LASIK that cause many people to shy away from a procedure that truly could transform their lives. Here are seven facts about LASIK that you may not have known, but might help to change your perception of the surgery.

Video: Patient Seminars

North Shore Eye Care provides patient seminars to allow patients to voice their concerns and fears in a group setting. The chance to ask questions that may be difficult to address in one-on-one consultations or simply to hear that other patients feel similarly provides a new and unique patient education experience.

1. Contact Lenses Can Pose More Risks Than LASIK

This may be hard to believe, but for certain people, contact lens wear is far more likely to harm their eyes than LASIK. In fact, a study conducted by the Casey Eye Institute concluded that the lifetime risk of serious vision loss was three-and-a-half times greater for contact lens users than patients who undergo LASIK.

In reality, both contact lenses and LASIK are extremely safe for suitable candidates. Contact lens wearers who have their lenses custom fitted by a specialist and use their lenses as directed will almost certainly experience no ill effects on their vision. Likewise, patients who undergo LASIK after careful screening by an experienced surgeon and who follow pre- and post-op instructions to the letter are highly likely to emerge from surgery with extremely healthy eyes.

2. Inadequate Screening Is to Blame for Most LASIK Complications

The national rate of satisfaction among LASIK patients is nearly 96 percent. So what about the other 4 percent of patients who are dissatisfied with their outcomes?  Far and away, the greatest cause of LASIK complications around the country is inadequate screening of potential candidates, often by inexperienced doctors.

While mild, usually temporary, side effects are possible even among qualified candidates, serious complications occur in less than 1 percent of LASIK surgeries performed by experienced eye surgeons. This is because these surgeons take the time and effort to meticulously screen patients, taking thorough medical histories, performing comprehensive examinations of their eyes, and operating from a well-defined checklist of factors to determine candidacy.

At North Shore Eye Care, we value the safety of our patients above all else. You can be certain that if we declare you fit to undergo LASIK, we are absolutely confident in our judgment.

3. Flap Complications Are Far Rarer Than They Used to Be

In the early days of LASIK, many potential patients were hesitant to undergo surgery because of widely publicized reports of "flap complications." In order to perform LASIK, surgeons must first create a hinged flap in the uppermost layer of the cornea. In conventional LASIK, the flap creation stage has always been - and continues to be - performed using a microkeratome, a handheld device with an oscillating blade on one end. Most flap complications were attributed to the use of this instrument.

In truth, LASIK has always had an excellent safety profile, even when it first became available. Nevertheless, flap complications did occur, and it was often due to the use of the microkeratome. Even then, the microkeratome was less to blame than its use on a candidate that should not have been permitted to undergo LASIK. While the instrument was highly precise, the flaps could sometimes be created with microscopically jagged edges and at slightly uneven depths. For patients with thin or irregularly shaped corneas, these minute flaws could result in noteworthy complications.

Advances in LASIK technology since those early days have led to a dramatic reduction in the instances of flap complications, even when the procedure is performed using a microkeratome. However, the IntraLase® system used to create the corneal flap at North Shore Eye Care all but eliminates the risk of flap complications. This is because the IntraLase® platform replaces the microkeratome with an extraordinarily precise and accurate laser, guided by sophisticated computer technology. Incisions of consistent depth are made precisely at  optimal sites, contributing to an overall safer surgical experience.

Just had my LASIK done last week. Wore contacts for the last ten years and my vision was terrible, couldn't see 20 feet in front of me. And now I have 20/20 vision and couldn't be happier.

Johnny N.

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4. The Patient Has an Important Role in the Success of LASIK

At North Shore Eye Care, our eye surgeons work to forge strong relationships with our patients, built on mutual respect and trust. There are many reasons we strive for this, one of the most important being that the success of any LASIK procedure relies on a collaborative effort between doctor and patient.

While many aspects of LASIK surgery, particularly during the procedure, fall under the control of our doctors, some fall squarely under the control of our patients. Our surgeons provide all patients with detailed pre- and post-operative instructions, making themselves readily available to answer any questions, address any concerns, and clarify any points of confusion. How closely patients follow these instructions can have a significant influence on the outcome of the procedure.

These instructions are tailored to the individual needs of the patient, but patients should generally expect to:

  • Take at least a couple of days off work or school after surgery
  • Attend all follow-up appointments with their surgeon
  • Use any prescribed medication exactly as directed
  • Wear provided eye protected exactly as directed
  • Avoid rubbing their eyes
  • Avoid sunlight as much as possible while healing
  • Not get water directly in the eyes
  • Avoid makeup and lotions

5. LASIK Is Permanent

Or, rather, the anatomical changes made to the eye with the excimer laser are permanent. In the long term, this will ensure that the improvements made to your vision will last for the most part.

Nevertheless, there are many conditions that could affect your vision after LASIK, including cataracts and presbyopia. Any stories you have heard of the results of LASIK "wearing off" might have actually been the results of patients developing these age-related conditions, both of which are inevitable for most people.

That said, your eyes will continue to change as you age, and further refractive errors may begin to affect your eyesight. Fortunately, you can undergo touch-up LASIK procedures to address these minor changes, restoring your vision to its optimal state. If you wish, you may also augment your improved vision with glasses or contact lenses as necessary.

6. Fearful Patients Are Still Good Candidates for LASIK 

Although our bladeless LASIK procedure can safely and painlessly be performed while patients are awake and locally anesthetized, some individuals may be nervous about the actual surgery itself. That is why we have developed the RELAX LASIK procedure, an anesthesia-assisted form of LASIK. After administering intravenous (IV) sedation via a small needle inserted in the arm or back of the hand, patients can enter a deeply relaxed state. Throughout the procedure, our on-site anesthesiologist provides close monitoring, ensuring your safety and complete comfort. 

7. Receive the Best in Care at Our State-of-the-Art Laser Center

One of the simplest ways to lower your risk of complications and improve your outcome is to choose a reputable care provider. Our state-of-the-art laser center features innovative, advanced technology in a spa-like setting. In order to provide our patients with the very best care, we foster a serene, comfortable atmosphere that features optimal conditions for performing laser surgery. From the time time you step in our door to the end of your appointment, our compassionate team will ensure your experience is pleasant and relaxing. 

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