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Frequently Questions Questions about LASIK

Note Before Proceeding - The following is not medical advice. Rather, it is the presentation of commonly asked questions with general answers. Your situation may only be analyzed by a qualified eye surgeon. See Disclaimer Clause at the end of this segment.

"What are my chances for eliminating my need for contact lenses/glasses with LASIK?"

Overall, 70% of patients will have perfect 20/20 vision without the aid of glasses, and 90% of patients will see 20/40 without glasses or contact lenses after having the treatment. The outcomes are far more positive for patients with low amounts of nearsightedness.

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"Can both eyes be treated simultaneously,
or is it better to operate on each eye individually?"

Both eyes can be treated at the same time. In as much as the procedures are generally safe, effective, and predictable a number of patients and surgeons will have both eyes done at one sitting. That being said, some surgeons/patients prefer to do only one eye at a time. This is safer as should their be some problem (which occasionally happens), with over or under correction, infection, epithelial ingrowth or many other rare but, possible complications then presumably only one eye would be damaged or lose best corrected visual acuity. However, if each eye is done separately then there are two appointments for treatment and two healing periods etc.

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"I am extremely nearsighted with -8.00 correction required in both eyes. I'd like to have this procedure done and get rid of my contacts and glasses, but thought it couldn't be done in my situation. Can it?"

You would have to be examined to determine if your -8.00 correction falls within certain parameters (see The LASIK Envelope) and what range of vision you could expect from the procedure. Overall, 70% of patients will have perfect 20/20 vision without the aid of glasses, and 90% of patients will see 20/40 without glasses or contact lenses after having the treatment. The outcomes are far more positive for patients with low amounts of nearsightedness.

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"At the age of 54 I need reading glasses.
Will the LASIK procedure eliminate my need for them?"

No! It is important that you understand the presbyopic or reading portion of your visual problem cannot currently be treated. LASIK is intended to treat distance visual problems, and therefore, you will still need glasses for reading and close work. Most professionals will not treat people under the age of 20. If you are in your 50s and have a distance vision problem treatment may be available, but don't expect to get rid of your reading glasses.

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"Can anyone have LASIK?"
No. It is not for everyone. There are certain conditions under which LASIK is not recommended These conditions can be detected when you have your preoperative examination and Corneal Map done. There are rare individuals who have some eye disease or other condition which could worsen with LASIK. The most common contraindication to LASIK is a misunderstanding of what the procedure can and cannot do for you. It can usually correct near (myopia) or far (hyperopia) sightedness as well as astigmatism. It cannot however make 20 year old eyes out of 50 year old eyes - i.e. correct presbyopia (the need for reading glasses).

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Cross Section
of the Human Eye

"How does LASIK work and are there needles involved?"
Vision is corrected by reshaping the inner corneal bed of the eye. This is done by removing a very thin layer of tissue from the front surface of the eye called the cornea - placing the lens power of your glasses on the cornea. Persons being treated remain remarkably comfortable though the entire procedure, requiring only a few anesthetic drops in the eye to ensure a virtually pain-free procedure that takes only minutes. No needles are used and with current technology there is very little discomfort after the procedure. A more detailed explanation (complete with pictures).

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"How much time will I have to be off work?"

That depends on whether you have your eyes done one at a time or both together. You would have to be professionally examined to determine what is best for you. In any case, most people return to work and other normal activities within 3 - 7 days. This period may be longer if you develop any complications or if you have a medium to high initial correction (-5.00 diopters or above).

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"If I don't receive 20/20 vision, will I be able to wear contacts after surgery"

If you could wear contact lenses before, without complications, you should be able to wear them again after surgery.

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"Can I get another laser treatment if I don't receive 20/20 vision?"

In general, yes. A repeat laser treatment can be performed if you are undercorrected, with nearsightedness remaining. However, each patient must be assessed by their own physician to determine eligibility for this.

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"Which procedure is better for me - LASIK or PRK"

Although the 3 months results are virtually the same, the majority of doctors consider LASIK the preferred procedure. This is because there is more rapid visual rehabilitation, less discomfort, and less variability in the patient's healing response. Some patients with higher amounts of nearsightedness and thinner corneas will not be candidates for LASIK, (see LASIK Envelope) but may still be candidates for PRK. These options should be discussed with you during your initial preoperative examination. However, the final decision is based on the results of your eye exam.

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"How do I choose a doctor and a facility"

When considering laser eye surgery one of the important factors is the doctor performing the procedure. Carefully check the credentials of the doctor to see if he/she are board certified with the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Also ask questions:
      • Are they experienced in performing LASIK?
      • How many procedures have they performed?
      • What type of complications has the clinic experienced?
      • What are their results of procedures performed for corrections similar to yours?

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For more information contact:
Dr. Murray McFadden
(BSc, MD, FRCS(C), Diplomate of the
American Board of Ophthalmology)
© Copyright 1996-2005 Murray McFadden MD, Inc.

Telephone: (604) 530-3332
Fax: (604) 535-6258
SnailMail: 20434 64th Avenue, Unit #201,
Langley, BC Canada V2Y 1N4

This page last updated on September 30, 2004.
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Materials produced here are not intended to provide medical information. Rather, the materials are presented for informational purposes only. None of the materials presented may be relied upon by any person for any medical, diagnostic or treatment reasons whatsoever. None of the materials presented here may be relied upon by any person for purpose other than informational purposes without the express written consent of Dr. Murray McFadden or the person indicated as the owner of the relevant materials. Dr. Murray McFadden disclaims any liability for any injury or other damages resulting from the review or use of the information obtained here. Dr. Murray McFadden asks that any person reviewing the materials presented here obtain specific medical advice and answers to specific medical questions, by a qualified eye doctor.