Refractive Surgery

LASIK (Laser in-situ Keratomileusis), and PRK (photorefractive Keratectomy), are surgical procedures intended to reduce a person's dependency on glasses or contact lenses.  

With LASIK, a thin layer of the cornea is lifted to create a 'flap' that stays connected on one side.  Next the excimer laser sculpts the cornea with a cool, ultraviolet light.  Finally, the 'flap' is returned to its original position for a quick, natural recovery.

With PRK, an excimer laser beam is used to flatten the front of the cornea.  The laser beam removes small amounts of tissue from the front of the cornea.  These differ from RK, which uses a knife to make radial incisions around the center of the cornea.

Common Questions about Refractive Surgery

What is nearsightedness?  Near sightedness (myopia) is when the curvature of the cornea is too steep, the focus of the ray of light that enters the eyes fall short of the retina.  The result is a blurry view of distant objects.

What is astigmatism?  Astigmatism can exist alone or in combination with nearsightedness or farsightedness.  With this condition, your eye becomes oval-shaped like a football instead of round, causing distortion when the eye tries to focus.

What is farsightedness?  Farsightedness (hyperopia) occurs when an eye is too short for the cornea's curvature.  Light rays entering the eye focus behind the retina, and as a result a blurred image is produced.

What is presbyopia?  Presbyopia is a condition where there is a diminished power of the eye accommodating near to far distances.  This arises from a loss of elasticity of the lens and is typical after age 40.  Laser surgery can overcome this condition only if you opt for "mono-vision".  Please discuss this with your doctor.

Am I candidate for refractive surgery?  In order to tell if you are a good candidate, you should undergo a screening assessment by your eye care professional.  Tests will be done to determine if your eyes are healthy and the degree of myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism of your eyes.  You should bring your contact lenses or glasses with you to the examination.  Ophthalmology Associates requires all patients to be 21 years of age or older.  Patients should have no active eye disease, and be in good health.

How much does it cost?  We have available the Vision Fee Plan, which makes it immediately affordable with low monthly payments.  Please contact our office for additional information regarding this plan and cost of LASIK.

Is it covered by insurance?  Currently LASIK is considered an elective procedure and is generally not covered by insurance.  However, we encourage you to contact your insurance provider to inquire about coverage or your human resource manager if you have a flexible spending account.  Many patients choose to use this account for elective procedures or take advantage of our convenient payment plan.

Does it hurt?  The actual procedure does not hurt.  Your eye will be numbed with drops.  Some patients experience a slight pressure sensation during the procedure.  After the procedure patients experience some discomfort such as scratchiness, mild irritation and dry eyes.  A postoperative kit with drops will help control these symptoms.

What are the side effects?  With any surgical procedure there are possible side effects.  The more common side effects of LASIK are sensitivity to light, night glares, dry eyes, and mild irritation.  Most side effects are temporary and will subside within the natural healing time.  Remember that the best side effect is better vision.

How long will I be off work?  You can have the procedure and be back to your normal day-to-day activities very quickly.  Most people return to work within 48 hours with LASIK and return in two to three days with PRK.

I am a contact lens wearer.  Do I need to take any additional steps prior to my consultation?  Yes!  If you are a hard contact wearer, you must be out of your contacts for four weeks prior to any exam.  If you are a soft contact wearer, you must be out of your contacts for two weeks prior to any exam.  This is extremely important and you will be reminded of this at the time you place your appointment for a consultation.

I am happy with my contact lenses.  Should I pursue having LASIK?  Only you can answer that.  How dependent are you on your corrective lenses?  Many of our patients have LASIK to lessen that dependency.  For example, we have patients that are very active in sports and have specific job requirements who have enjoyed the benefits of LASIK.

What type of anesthetic is used for LASIK?  Your eye is numbed with drops, not needles.  We generally give patients valium prior to procedure to calm them; however, you need to be awake and alert during the procedure.

Will I need to wear glasses once my eyes have healed?  Most patients that have LASIK do not wear glasses for daily activities.  Patients will need reading glasses around the approximate age of 40 due to the normal aging of the eye called presbyopia.  Some patients may need a minimal prescription for night driving.

I wear bifocals now, and my doctor says that I'll still need to wear reading glasses even if I have LASIK done.  Why is this?  The excimer laser will not correct your need for reading glasses, which is called presbyopia.  Presbyopia occurs sometime after the age of 40 when our eyes' lenses lose flexibility for accommodation from near to far.

Please contact our office for any additional questions at

1-800-255-7448 or 605-226-2108