Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the frequently asked questions about vision correction services.
- Download a printable version of our frequently asked questions.
General questions about the surgery
- What are the requirements to be a candidate for the surgery?
- Is the surgery painful?
- Are both eyes operated on at the same surgery?
- How does pregnancy affect refractive surgery?
- What can I expect after the procedure?
- Will my vision change after the procedure?
- Are there any restrictions in activities following refractive surgery?
Detailed questions about LASIK and PRK
- How is a LASIK flap created?
- What is custom or wavefront treatment?
- What type of technology for LASIK and PRK is used at Pacific Medical Centers?
- What other types of refractive surgeries are available?
Questions about cost
General Questions about the Surgery
What are the requirements to be a candidate for the surgery?
In general, patients need to be at least 21 years old to have surgery. Stable glasses or contact lens prescription and having no active eye or general diseases are also required. Some medications (such as retinoic acid) and certain health conditions may prevent proper healing after a refractive procedure. The health conditions include autoimmune diseases (such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), immunodeficiency states (for example, HIV) and uncontrolled diabetes.
Is the surgery painful?
Your eye is anesthetized with eye drops prior to and during the procedure. Most patients may feel pressure during LASIK flap creation, but the excimer laser portion is painless. After surgery, most patients experience moderate to no discomfort. Some may have light sensitivity for a few days following the procedure.
Are both eyes operated on at the same surgery?
Most patients have LASIK or PRK surgery on both eyes on the same day.
How does pregnancy affect refractive surgery?
Vision may fluctuate during pregnancy and while nursing. We recommend delaying refractive surgery until your vision stabilizes and normal menstrual periods resume. If you have refractive surgery, there is no contraindication to become pregnant after your surgery.
What can I expect after the procedure?
- You will need to have someone drive you home from the surgical procedure.
- You will need to take prescription eye drops to help with your healing and to prevent infection afterwards.
- We recommend that patients take a nap after the surgery and to minimize using their eyes on the day following the surgery, for both their comfort and to improve healing.
- Most LASIK patients can go to work on the following day after surgery.
- Routine follow-up visits will be scheduled at one day, one week, one month and as needed for one year following the surgery. These postoperative exams are all included in the cost of surgery.
Will my vision change after the procedure?
Minor changes or fluctuations after surgery may occur over time. These will vary from patient to patient. Vision changes due to the natural aging process of the eye are not prevented by refractive surgery. These changes include presbyopia and cataract formation. Presbyopia is the loss of flexibility and focusing power of the lens and affects your near vision. It usually develops between the ages of 40 and 50 and often requires you to use reading glasses.
Cataracts, also a natural aging process, is where the eye’s lens becomes cloudy. This usually develops around 60 years of age, but may occur earlier. As one ages, cataract lens surgery may be needed in all patients, regardless of whether they have had refractive surgery. Fortunately, this common medical condition is covered by your medical insurance once it becomes visually significant.
Are there any restrictions in activities following refractive surgery?
Once your eye is healed as determined by your doctor, there are generally no limitations. Patients can safely snowboard, scuba dive and return to their active lifestyles. As always, it is recommended that you wear proper eye protection during any activity, so as to avoid eye injuries.
Detailed Questions about LASIK and PRK:
How is a LASIK flap created?
In LASIK, a thin flap of the surface of your eye is created and then gently lifted, so that an excimer laser can reshape the surface. The flap is then repositioned to allow for a rapid recovery. Traditional LASIK uses a microkeratome blade to create the flap. Although this method is still commonly used worldwide, the mechanical blade can have complications with flap creation, which can threaten sight. Although rare, such issues include an incomplete flap, a free cap or buttonholes. Our technology uses a safer, femtosecond laser to create a computer-controlled, reproducible and precise flap. This makes your LASIK procedure a truly blade-free, all-laser, procedure, enhancing your safety and outcomes. Learn more at the LASIK and PRK page.
What is custom or wavefront treatment?
With LASIK and PRK, a precise excimer laser is used to reshape the surface of your eye so that it properly focuses light onto the retina. This part of the LASIK or PRK surgery can be performed as a custom (wavefront) procedure or a traditional (conventional) procedure.
A custom wavefront-guided procedure takes additional measurements—or WaveScans—of your eye before the surgery. These measurements identify subtle imperfections in your eye that are not found in your regular glasses prescription. This information is then used to create a blended, customized laser treatment. A traditional or conventional LASIK procedure does not treat these additional components. Learn more at the LASIK and PRK page.
What type of technology for LASIK and PRK is used at Pacific Medical Centers?
We obtain wavefront measurements—called WaveScans—on all patients during refractive surgery screenings. After analyzing the quality of your wavefront cornea map and the amount of refractive error, your PacMed surgeon will assess if you are a candidate for custom or Wavefront-guided treatment (in both PRK and LASIK). If you are a LASIK candidate, we use only a blade-free femtosecond laser or the IntraLase, to create the cornea flap. We do not offer the older technology of a microkeratome blade for flap creation.
To reshape the cornea, we use the most advanced excimer laser technology, equipped with sophisticated eye-tracking and iris-registration systems. This ensures a precise laser treatment, even with normal, small eye movements that occur during the short procedure. Learn more at the LASIK and PRK page.
What other types of refractive surgeries are available?
LASIK and PRK are the most popular refractive surgeries performed worldwide. Some patients may not be candidates for these procedures. Your doctor will discuss other options, which include implantable contact lenses or a refractive lens exchange.
Questions about Cost
Why is LASIK or PRK so expensive?
When you consider the expense of getting new glasses every 2-3 years, and the costs of contact lenses and cleaning products over a lifetime, it may be worth the cost for some patients. Much research and technology has been invested to create the precise and outstanding outcomes of refractive surgery. With the newest advances in a blade-free, all-laser LASIK, custom wavefront-guided treatments and iris-registration and tracking technology, we believe LASIK innovation is truly at its peak.
Although there are numerous advertisements offering inexpensive prices, make sure to inquire about the type of technology and the experience of the surgeon. Often, there are hidden, add-on costs if you wish to upgrade the technology. We believe in using the most advanced technology for all our patients and will recommend the procedure that is best for your eyes.
Do insurance companies pay for refractive surgery?
LASIK and PRK are elective surgeries, which most insurance companies or vision benefit plans do not cover. However, most flex spending or healthcare reimbursement programs will cover vision-correction surgery so that you can use your tax-free dollars. Be sure to call your individual insurance benefit carrier to determine your eligibility.