LASIK Frequently Asked Questions
What is LASIK and how is it performed?
LASIK is the acronym for “laser in situ keratomileusis” and is the most popular form of modern refractive surgery. The rationale of LASIK is to create a thin protective layer of tissue underneath which the rest of the cornea is remodeled to compensate for a person’s glasses prescription. This thin layer (about the thickness of a contact lens) is then laid back down like a natural bandage which allows for less discomfort and faster visual recovery. LASIK was first approved by the FDA in 1999.
Am I a candidate for LASIK?
There are many, many factors that go into knowing if LASIK is the appropriate procedure for you to eliminate your glasses prescription. Factors such as your degree of near- or farsightedness, level of astigmatism, thickness of cornea, regularity of your corneal curvature, presence of unrelated ocular or systemic conditions, and expectations.
It is beyond the scope of this website to explain each and every factor that goes into knowing if LASIK is “right” for you. Only a comprehensive exam and testing by eye doctors experienced in refractive surgery can give you the necessary knowledge to make an informed decision.
How much does LASIK cost and can I use my Vision Plan for LASIK?
Our goal at Maryland Vision Institute is to make quality LASIK affordable for everyone. That is why we offer a substantial savings off our regular LASIK fees. Our LASIK procedure is also a ‘Covered’ procedure under your Flex Spending Account and Health Savings Account at work, which can make LASIK even more affordable.
Our LASIK counselors are happy to speak to you about your savings opportunities and our pricing. They can also assist you in arranging special financing through one of our finance partners. To reach one of our counselors, please call 301.791.0888.
Some other centers offer misleading prices based either on your prescription or using older bladed technology that is not as safe as our all-laser methods. That’s why we invest heavily in having the most advanced, all-laser LASIK technology since our highest priorities are patient safety and successful outcomes. You only have one set of eyes — we highly advise that you receive the very best technology available.
Is the Lasik procedure painful?
Being nervous during LASIK is a completely normal reaction to having someone work around your eyes. We typically give a light oral sedative to help ease this nervousness.
Modern LASIK surgery is quicker and more comfortable than at any other time in history. The surface of your eyes is fully anesthetized with topical eyedrops so you will not feel anything sharp. The part of the procedure that some patients feel is the suction ring during the creation of the flap. Fortunately, this discomfort is minimized by advances in new technology, especially with the LenSx femtosecond laser. We have found almost no patient discomfort with this specific flap-maker compared to older machines. If you are shopping around for your LASIK procedure, be sure to ask whether the center has the LenSx femtosecond laser or is using the ‘Bladed’ cutting method of LASIK.
What are some of the risks of LASIK?
Though extremely successful, LASIK is still a surgical procedure and thus there are always inherent risks involved. Some of the potential risks specific to LASIK include: ineffectiveness (i.e. still need to wear glasses/contacts), infection, dry eye symptoms, flap-related complications, and halos at night. The risks of any surgical procedure are minimized by appropriate patient selection. This is why it is crucial for you to undergo a comprehensive eye exam before undergoing any type of refractive surgery.
Are there other alternatives to getting rid of my glasses or contacts besides LASIK?
Not everyone is a candidate for LASIK. Occasionally, an individuals’ glasses prescription is too extreme to be neutralized safely with LASIK. Other common reasons for not being able to undergo LASIK include the cornea being too thin or irregular or the presence of moderate/severe dry eye. In addition, some occupations (e.g. U.S. Special Forces) have specific restrictions against having LASIK versus other types of refractive surgery.
One common alternative to LASIK is PRK (“photorefractive keratectomy”) which was actually the predecessor of LASIK. Unlike LASIK, PRK does not involve creating a flap. Instead, the corneal epithelium is mechanically removed and the treatment is applied underneath. The corneal epithelium regrows back itself over the course of a few days. The benefit of PRK compared to LASIK is that there is no flap that can be dislodged later and less of the “body” of the cornea is involved. The disadvantage of PRK is that the recovery, both in terms of comfort and vision, is slower than LASIK.
Another alternative to LASIK is a phakic intraocular lens like the Visian ICL (“implantable collamer lens”) which we also offer at Maryland Vision Institute. For more information about the Visian ICL, please go to that portion of our website or to the manufacturer’s website.