Laser Vision Correction Surgery
How do I start the process?
To find out if you are a candidate for laser vision correction, the first step is a comprehensive eye exam. You will be asked to leave your soft lenses out for at least 3 days before the exam and toric soft lenses for 2 weeks. Hard / gas permeable lenses need to be left out for at least 1 month and possibly longer depending on how long you have worn them.
This will assure that the cornea reverts to its natural shape. The hard/gas permeable lens wearer might have to be checked 2-3 times before going to treatment to ensure that the cornea is stable. In the exam room, the ophthalmologist will test your vision and check the health your eyes, evaluating whether or not you qualify for the procedure.
The consultation examination continues with a pair of tests on the cornea itself. One test, called corneal topography, uses a computerized scanner to map the surface of the cornea. The ophthalmologist will evaluate these maps to detect any abnormalities in the curvature of the cornea which could preclude treatment.
Corneal pachymetry is a test that checks the thickness of the cornea to make sure that there is enough corneal tissue to perform the laser procedure safely. Both tests will help the ophthalmologist decide if you are an ideal candidate for refractive surgery. The ophthalmologist at this time will review the consent form as well as answer your questions.
In addition to refraining from contact lens wear, the ophthalmologist will give you additional pre-operative instructions. These instructions include no use of eye make-up two days before surgery and no perfumes or lotions the day of treatment. You can expect to be at the surgical site for about one hour. You will need someone to drive you home after the surgery.
What happens the day of treatment?
The actual treatment day begins with one final recheck by the doctor to ensure that your eyes are stable and to address any final questions or concerns. A member of our refractive team will give a thorough explanation of what is about to occur in the laser suite.
Next, you will be led into the laser suite and asked to lie down. You will receive several numbing eye drops before the procedure - one set of drops in the exam room, and another set in the laser room - in order to ensure that the treatment will be painless. The actual time under the laser is about 15 minutes. The doctor will start by gently inserting an eye-lid retainer so you do not blink. Some pressure may be felt when the retainer is applied to the eye, but this is relatively painless. The laser is programmed with your prescription by the doctor and will calculate precisely the amount of corneal tissue to be removed.
Laser vision correction describes many treatments in which the laser is used to reshape the cornea, correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness as well as astigmatism. The doctor will determine the best procedure for you based on the consultation visit.
Immediately After the Procedure
Once the refractive procedure is complete, the doctor will ask you to relax for a short period. Your vision will be very blurry, like looking under water. The doctor will check your eyes in the exam room and go over the postoperative instructions before you go home with your driver.
During the first postoperative exam, the doctor checks the healing process and makes sure that there are no problems. You will be reminded that you can return to work and your normal activities - including showering - that very day, but should wait 48 hours before returning to exercise and three weeks before swimming, or using hot tubs and saunas.
You will be prescribed eye drops for about 1 week to help prevent infection and inflammation. Eye shields will have to be worn for one week during sleep. Further postoperative exams will follow at one week, one month, three months, six months, and one year after refractive surgery for the ophthalmologist to evaluate the progress of your vision. It takes about 3 months for your vision to become stable.
Once your vision has been stabilized, the vision problem may not be fully corrected and glasses or contact lenses may to be needed for optimal vision. Fortunately, a refinement laser procedure - called an enhancement - may be an option in this case to help improve the vision. An enhancement will treat the under or overcorrection of your vision using the laser.