While LASIK surgery is an exciting experience for most patients, there is a lot of misinformation which sometimes causes people to unnecessarily avoid vision correction procedures. We would like to clear up some of the common misconceptions about LASIK surgery.
Myth 1 – Will I get a poor result if I move my eye during surgery?
All of our lasers are equipped with trackers that will follow and keep up with even the most subtle movements of your eye. The doctor will ask you to focus on a blinking light during surgery, and the tracker will take care of the rest. If your eye moves outside of the tracking field, the laser will stop treatment and the doctor will reposition your eye before resuming with the surgery. This rarely ever happens and has no effect on a good visual outcome.
Myth 2- Lasers cannot correct astigmatism.
Prior to 1998, astigmatism wasn’t correctable with LASIK surgery. However, the technology developed quickly and in March 1998, the lasers were approved to correct astigmatism. Dr. Hoopes actually performed the first myopia with astigmatism correction on the Summit laser in the United States shortly after FDA approval on March 16, 1998.
Myth 3 – There is no reason for LASIK to be more than $299 an eye.
Although there are many advertisements claiming to be able to perform LASIK inexpensively, these are usually just bait-and-switch marketing schemes. Nobody ever pays those low advertised prices which don’t even come close to covering the cost of doing the surgery. Once in the door, counselors try to up sell you to a better laser and let you know that your prescription does not qualify for the lower advertised price. They will try to sell you additional add ons, such as expensive tear duct plugs (that most people really don’t need) and warranties and guarantees. Prices at the discount centers can end up very close to the more respected and established LASIK centers. Most discount centers do not have the latest and safest technology such as the Allegretto Wavelight laser and the laser flap maker, IntraLase. Most discount surgeons were not busy on their own and are paid very low fees for their services. Many discount laser centers have gone bankrupt and the stock prices of 2 of Salt Lake City’s discount centers have dropped 90% during 2008. Finally, you might just end up getting what you paid for!
Myth 4 – Cataracts can be cured with LASIK.
This myth comes from confusion on how LASIK surgery works and what a cataract is. A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye, while LASIK surgery is a way to correct refractive error by reshaping the cornea on the outer surface of the eye. A cataract is corrected by removing the natural cloudy lens of the eye and inserting an artificial lens implant. With successful cataract surgery on an otherwise healthy eye, most patients can see very well in the distance without glasses. There are also premium lens implants available which enable many patients to read up close as well as far away.
Myth 5 – LASIK/PRK will eliminate the need for glasses.
Although 99% of LASIK/PRK patients can see well enough to pass a driver’s license test without glasses, a few may still need the help of glasses to see their very best. Close to 97% of LASIK/PRK patients end up seeing 20/25 or better and do not require glasses. As patients get into their mid-forty’s and older, most will need the help of reading or magnifying glasses for close up. One way to get around this is to have monovision LASIK/PRK performed. With this method, the dominant eye is fixed for distance vision and the non-dominant eye is adjusted for reading. Most monovision or “blended vision” patients easily make this transition and are able to see well in the distance and close up with minimal or no use of glasses
Myth 6 – LASIK surgery is painful.
LASIK surgery is considered a relatively painless procedure. Topical anesthetic eye drops are used to numb the eye before surgery. You can feel some pressure but should not feel pain. Shortly after surgery, patients may feel some scratchiness and the eye may water for a few hours. Most patients are amazed at how painless and quick the procedure was.
Myth 7 – I will need to have LASIK again after a few years.
Results are permanent. In 2 to 3% of patients, fine-tuning or enhancement treatments may need to be performed to attain the final desired correction.
Myth 8 – LASIK surgery can cause me to go blind.
While there are risks and possible complications that come with any surgery, we’ve never seen a report or heard of a patient experiencing blindness from LASIK surgery. There can be unhappy patients whose results didn’t live up to their expectations who write on web sites that they can’t see or can’t drive at night, but no one really knows the exact extent of their blurriness other than they can apparently see well enough to type up their comments and still drive to work.
Myth 9 – All lasers correct vision the same.
Each laser system has a slightly different, but similar way of removing the tissue from the front of the eye. The Visx laser is a broadbeam laser with modifications while most of the other lasers are “flying-spot” lasers. Most lasers flatten the cornea which can cause glare and haloes at night. Two of our lasers, the Zeiss MEL-80 and the Allegretto Wave light Eye-Q have been designed from the ground up with the express intent of addressing these issues and are able to leave the cornea in a more natural, round shape than other lasers. With 5 excimer lasers on-site (Alcon LADARVision, Bausch & Lomb Technolas, VISX Star 4, Zeiss MEL80, Wavelight), our surgeons will be able to select a technology that will be suited for your vision.
Myth 10 – I won’t be able to wear contact lenses after the procedure.
Most patients who have had LASIK eye surgery are still able to wear contact lenses if necessary. However, most patients will never have to wear contact lenses again.
Myth 11 – There’s no such thing as ‘bladeless’ LASIK.
LASIK is a 2-step process in which the first step is creating a corneal flap. The traditional method has been to use a microkeratome with a razor blade to do this. With the development of the IntraLase® laser, corneal flaps can be created in a manner that doesn’t use a blade. The IntraLase® laser also eliminates most of the flap complications and problems that occurred with razor blades. Our doctors consider this a much safer way to perform the surgery and have used it on 100 percent of our LASIK patients. It is truly an all-laser, bladeless procedure. As of 2008, our surgeons were the second highest volume IntraLase surgeons in the country!