Alamo Optometry Blog

March 6, 2010


Filed under: Educational — Tags: — admin @ 11:47 pm

(As appeared in Alamo Today, March 2010, page 24)

During the past few months, I have had more patients inquire about and proceed with LASIK. Most people at this point are pretty well-informed about the subject and have either gone through the procedure themselves or know someone who has. Since there have been more questions about it recently, I will cover some of the frequently asked questions without going into the technical aspects of the procedure itself.

What is LASIK? LASIK is an acronym and stands for Laser ASsisted In-Situ Keratomelusis. A thin flap is made in the shape of a horseshoe within the cornea and then peeled back to expose the inner structures of the cornea. The excimer laser is then applied to the tissue to remove and reshape the cornea depending on your correction. The flap is then put back in place and heals on its own.

What is the difference between LASIK and PRK? PRK or photorefractive keratectomy, was the precursor to LASIK. The main difference between the two procedures is that in PRK a corneal flap is not made. Patients usually decide to do PRK instead if they are not an optimal candidate for LASIK due to thin corneas and/or large pupils. Even though the end results are the same, the healing time with PRK is longer and only one eye is done at a time.

What is wavefront technology? This is an optimized or “personalized” version of LASIK. The procedure is the same except for the program the computer uses to apply the laser treatment. Everyone has corneas that are just a little irregular and has hills and valleys in addition to being near-sighted or far-sighted. This procedure seeks to eliminate all of the known impediments to vision, so the only limit is what your brain can process for you. This leads to crisper and improved vision especially at night.

Am I a candidate for LASIK? There is a wide-range of prescriptions that can be corrected by LASIK. Large amounts of far-sightedness, near-sightedness, and astigmatism can be eliminated with the procedure. Keep in mind that there are FDA limitations on the amount of correction that can be done by LASIK and that some prescriptions might not be optimal for full LASIK correction, but can be done nonetheless. A comprehensive eye examination is required to fully assess your prescription and eye health and must be done within 6 months of the surgery.

How long is the recovery? Assuming the procedure goes well, you can be back to work within a few days. Most people schedule the surgery at the end of the week so they have the weekend to rest and are ready to go on Monday morning.
What are the side effects? The main side effect from the procedure is dry eyes. Most people will experience some dryness/stinging/burning after the surgery. For some people it could last for a few months. For most, it is mild and resolves within a few weeks. There is always risk for infection, but that is minimal as you will use an antibiotic drop the day before the surgery and for a few days after. If you have large pupils, there will be a chance of glare and haloes in dim lighting, especially night driving.

Are there any age limitations? Most surgeons will wait until you are 21 to do the procedure. There is no maximum age for the procedure; however, it is not recommended into your 60’s because of cataract formation which will blur your vision. Keep in mind that your prescription needs to be stable to do the procedure. So regardless of age, if your prescription is always changing, LASIK will not halt the progression. When you are older and need reading help, monovision is a viable option for most patients, but it must be trialed with contacts first to ensure adaptation and good vision before proceeding with the surgery.

Obviously this is meant as some general information regarding the procedure. There are many other things that need to be discussed, along with other refractive surgery or contact lens options. We are more than happy to do your exam here in the office and give you an opinion on your visual and refractive surgery needs.

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear. He can be reached at 925-820-6622 or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165 in Alamo. Visit our website at:

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