Answers to Common Questions
Here are answers to the most common questions about LASIK - if you have questions not listed here, be sure to raise them when you come for your Free LASIK Consultation.
1. What Are the Risks?
Everything in life from eating ice cream to driving a car involves some risk, and the same is true of LASIK. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has declared LASIK safe and effective for most people. Of the 12,500,000 Americans who have had LASIK since the 90s, experienced surgeons have reported a less than 3% complication rate. Those complications were mostly related to quality of vision issues such as dry eyes and reduced night vision – not loss of vision – and even these have been significantly reduced by advances in laser technology.
Factually, there is more risk from prolonged use of contacts than something going wrong during the LASIK procedure. However, confirming that you are a good candidate in the first place is the best assurance that you will have a successful outcome.
2. Are Contacts Safer Than LASIK?
Both contacts and LASIK can be a safe alternative to glasses. Some studies have reported increased risk of infection from contacts due to prolonged wear and poor maintenance, or forgetting to take them out when you sleep. The main reason contacts cause problems is because of the hassle factor: forget your cleaning solutions, overlook the need to sterilize them, have them slip while you’re driving, and the risk increases.
LASIK, on the other hand, is a precise, permanent, no-maintenance, solution to poor vision due to refractive error. As Dr. William Mathers at the Oregon Health & Science University has stated in his detailed statistical analysis of the safety of LASIK versus contacts reported in the Archives of Ophthalmology, Vol 124, No. 10, October 2006 study: “One shouldn’t just assume that contacts are safer than LASIK. This may have been true at one time, but for the average person this is certainly not the case anymore.”
3. Can I Really Get Rid Of My Glasses?
Getting rid of your glasses depends largely on your age. If you’re between the ages of 18 to 45 and choose the right doctor using advanced technology, you will not need prescription glasses at all.
After 45, a different vision condition comes into play as a natural result of aging. Most of us will likely need reading glasses, whether we have had LASIK or not, due to the reduced flexibility of our eye’s lenses, or presbyopia. Even presbyopia can be effectively handled through a special LASIK technique known as Blended Vision that has given thousands the ability to see both close up and far away.
4. Will LASIK Work For Me?
Most people over age 18 suffering from nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism can be helped. Some of Dr. Lipstock’s patients can’t believe that they’ll actually achieve 20/20 without lenses – until they open their eyes after the procedure. This is a genuine case of ‘seeing is believing’.
Some physical or medical factors such as corneal thickness or particular forms of diabetes may rule someone out as a LASIK candidate. The only way to know for sure if LASIK is the answer to your poor vision is by having a full and comprehensive LASIK examination.
5. Will It Hurt?
LASIK in the hands of an experienced surgeon using advanced technology, such as all-laser, wave-front guided or blade-free LASIK is virtually painless. During the procedure, you can expect to feel just the sensation of pressure for about 30 seconds. Inserting or removing contact lenses, or just rubbing eyes tired from wearing glasses, can produce more discomfort than an all-laser LASIK procedure. Typically, by about 30 minutes after the procedure you can expect to feel a mild foreign body sensation that lasts only about 2 to 3 hours. Keeping your eyes closed or taking a brief nap when arriving home will minimize this mild discomfort. After a good night’s sleep you can expect to awaken to the joy of seeing the world clearly and without lenses and the discomfort and irritations associated with lenses – usually for the first time in many years.
6. When Can I Return To Work? How Much Work Will I Miss?
Most people are able to return to work the day after their LASIK procedure. Immediately after the procedure you’ll be asked to go home and take a nap so the healing process can get off to a good start. You’ll also be given eye drops that ensure no infection will occur. In the first 24 hours, you may experience some fluctuation of vision. After a good night’s sleep, most people can drive to our office themselves the next morning for a quick check by Dr. Lipstock. Then they’re off to work or play seeing the world for the first time in decades without the need for glasses or contacts!
7. Is All Bladeless LASIK The Same?
All-laser or blade-free LASIK is the best known and most popular refractive correction procedure.
PRK is another form of bladeless refractive surgery which addresses the protective outer layers of the cornea, rather than using a laser to create a corneal flap. Results after PRK are almost identical to LASIK, but with PRK the healing process is more extended and the eye takes longer to achieve the level of vision that LASIK can deliver in just a day or two. PRK is necessary for some eye conditions where the cornea is too thin to create a protective flap. Dr. Lipstock will advise you which procedure will be best for your eyes at the time of your LASIK Consultation.
8. What If I Blink Or Move During the Procedure?
This is absolutely not an issue. Sometimes patients worry that they will affect the surgery by nervous or uncontrollable twitches or jumps of their eyes, called saccadic eye movements. The lasers used by Dr. Lipstock are married to an ultra high-speed eye tracking system with a response time of milliseconds – much faster than your eye can move. This eye tracker completely neutralizes these eye movements to assure a quality treatment and increased patient safety.
9. What About Nighttime Side Effects?
Most of us have night vision issues whether we have had LASIK or not. But you may have seen news stories about difficulty driving at night after refractive surgery due to halos, starbursts, and glare around lights particularly if the patient had large pupils. These effects, if they occur at all, usually diminish as the eye heals in the first three months. In extreme cases, additional touch-up (enhancement) procedures will be recommended.
However, the advent of advanced lasers has expanded treatment zones and in many cases these new technologies are reported as improving night vision in many cases and many patients who may have not been candidates for LASIK in the past, can now be treated successfully.
10. Does The Type of Technology Matter?
Very much so. Since the first procedures in the 1990s, LASIK technology has advanced in leaps and bounds. For example, the original technique for creating the corneal flap involved a spinning hand-held blade called a microkeratome. This has been surpassed by an advance that employs a precision laser to make the flap, resulting in greater accuracy and more stability. This technique is known as blade-free or all-laser LASIK.
The earliest excimer lasers that corrected the corneal irregularities also had limitations that meant some patients could not be considered candidates. Today’s lasers have considerably expanded treatment zones and precision of outcomes.
You should ask your doctor if he has updated his equipment in the last two years. Staying up to date with the best technology means a significant financial commitment by the surgeon and some centers may not have upgraded their lasers. But, when it comes to your eyes, you don’t want anything less than the best possible quality.
11. Should I Wait For The Price To Come Down?
This question is usually prompted by concerns about affordability. Unfortunately, the cost of LASIK has been rising since the 90s and is likely to keep on rising. When you buy a new car, is it cheaper than five years ago? How about clothes, cosmetics, and restaurants? Even with today’s highly advanced technology, LASIK is very definitely a hands-on, personalized service provided by highly trained and qualified medical professionals using millions of dollars worth of equipment. So, although some centers quote attractively (but unbelievably) low prices, the truth is that as with anything in life, quality and assurance come at a price.
The good news is that the one-time cost of LASIK works out cheaper in the long run than ongoing expenses of glasses and contacts. Dr. Lipstock is the only surgeon in Richmond to provide a 20/20 Money Back Guarantee and he is also the only surgeon in Richmond to provide a Lowest Price Guarantee for Custom Blade-Free LASIK.
12. How Do You Choose the Best Doctor?
This is definitely the most important question of all. Although LASIK is marketed as a commodity, it is a medical procedure and in the final analysis the skill and care of the surgeon are the most significant issues. Look for a local surgeon who will personally oversee every step of the procedure and take the time to answer all of your questions. Remember, the only ‘dumb’ question is the one you don’t ask.
Ensure you feel at ease with the surgeon and his staff and that you’re being treated with the respect and care you deserve as an individual.
Finally, find out if your surgeon provides a 20/20 Money Back Guarantee – in writing. Don’t accept excuses or discouragement on this point. LASIK is an extremely precise procedure and a surgeon who is thoroughly skilled and an expert, with a superb track record, knows precisely what results he can achieve for you. There may be no guarantees in medicine but you can and should expect a written commitment that you will get your full procedure fee back if your results are less than agreed.
Questions You Should Ask BEFORE Having LASIK Anywhere.
- Are the surgeon’s experience and technology second to none?
- Who evaluates you initially to determine your candidacy for the procedure?
- Is the surgeon available locally days, nights, and weekends should you need immediate care?
- Are the center’s vision goals 20/20 vision (or better) with complete independence from glasses and/or contacts, or simply the best they can manage for you?
- Is the cost reasonable?
- If you are over the age of 40, will you be able to see both near and far without glasses or contacts?
- Kenneth Lipstock, M.D. is an MCV graduate and board certified ophthalmologist. He also trained abroad with Luis Ruiz, the inventor of the microkeratome, the instrument that made LASIK possible. Dr. Lipstock and Dr. Ruiz, went on in the 90′s to found the International Center of Refractive Surgery to help train American surgeons in advanced LASIK techniques. Dr. Lipstock was the first surgeon in the state of Virginia to perform LASIK and in 2005, he was the first surgeon in Richmond to perform Custom Blade-Free LASIK, the safest and most accurate form of LASIK available today.
- At corporate LASIK centers the initial evaluation to determine your candidacy is NOT performed by a medical doctor, and that person WON’T be the surgeon performing your procedure. The very rare instances of complications reported after LASIK have been mostly due to the patient being a poor candidate in the first place – due to improper examination procedures. In order to assure the highest quality of care, our Medical Director and LASIK Surgeon, Kenneth Lipstock, M.D., carefully evaluates every one of his patients prior to performing their LASIK procedure.
- The surgeons employed by corporate laser centers travel from state to state doing surgery and are only present in Richmond on the day of surgery. Kenneth Lipstock, M.D. resides in Richmond with his family and is on call 24/7 should his patients need him days, nights, and weekends after LASIK.
- Some corporate LASIK centers base their guaranteed success at the low standard of 20/40 vision (legal driving vision). If you have a 20/40 result and need a touch up (enhancement), they WILL charge you extra. At Lipstock LASIK and Cataract Center our goal is crystal clear 20/20 or better vision and spectacle independence. We want our patients to be happy and we offer free enhancements to achieve this result.
- Lipstock LASIK and Cataract Center GUARANTEES to match any Richmond LASIK center’s price for Blade-free Custom LASIK, and if that price is lower than our price, we will deduct an additional $25 per eye just for the heck of it!
- Lipstock LASIK and Cataract Center’s goal for those patients over the age of 40 is clear vision, not only for distance but for near vision as well. Unlike most LASIK centers, we provide this for 99% of our bifocal age patients.