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Frequently asked questions about lasik

Can I use my Medical Savings / Flex Spending Account for LASIK?

In most cases, yes! Check with your employer or plan provider to verify the details of your plan, but this is a great way to pay for LASIK using you pre-tax income.

What is LASIK?

LASIK stands for LASER IN-SITU KERATOMILEUSIS. The procedure uses a computer-controlled excimer laser to reshape the cornea to correct your vision. The laser reshaping is done under a protective flap of tissue to promote a very rapid recovery of vision and minimize discomfort.

How long has LASIK been performed?

The first keratomileusis procedure was done on humans in 1963. The procedure has evolved and improved since then. The excimer laser has been used for over 10 years and has received FDA approval for photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), a procedure in which the laser is used to sculpt the surface of the eye. Eye surgeons have been creating a protective flap of tissue for over 30 years. These two techniques were first combined in 1991 to create a new form of refractive surgery -- LASIK. Most of the experience with LASIK has been obtained outside of the United States, where regulatory oversight is not as stringent.

Who is LASIK useful for?

LASIK can be performed for a wide range of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

How does LASIK correct astigmatism?

Astigmatism can be corrected by using a laser with software that is capable of ablating an oval pattern on the cornea.

Who does this surgery?

Our Lasik Ophthalmologist Dr. Jeffrey Karlik  performs the LASIK procedure.

How do I know if I am a candidate for LASIK?

In order to determine whether you are eligible for laser surgery, you must have a consultation and comprehensive pre-operative exam. Please contact us if you have questions or wish to schedule an appointment.

Who is a good candidate for LASIK?

A good candidate for LASIK must:

  •     Be at least 18 years old

  •     Have a stable prescription 

  •     Have no pre-existing corneal diseases

  •     Not have certain pre-existing conditions

  •     Not be pregnant or nursing

  •     Have realistic expectations about laser vision correction

What is done at a pre-op exam?

A complete eye examination and specialized computer measurement of the shape of your cornea is performed. Dr. Karlik reviews this information in light of your visual needs for work and leisure and provides you with options and recommendations for refractive surgery.  It may be necessary for your contact lenses to be removed for a period of time in order for your cornea to return to its natural shape by the time of this examination.  Dr. Karlik will discuss this with you at the time of your consultation.

How long does the procedure take?

You will be in the surgery room approximately 15 minutes to complete the procedure on both eyes.  Expect to be at our surgery center approximately one to two hours.

Does it hurt?

Anesthetic drops allow the operation to be performed without pain. It is normal to feel some pressure during the procedure. Afterwards, the eye is a bit scratchy, but patients typically do not require any pain medications and are often able to return to work the day following the procedure.

What are the restrictions following surgery?

You must wear a protective shield the first two nights following surgery. You should not swim or get into a hot tub for two weeks after surgery, although bathing and showering is fine. All other activities -- including exercise -- may be resumed on the first day following surgery.
After laser vision correction is performed, patients are sent home with a sleeping pill and are asked to rest with the eyes closed as much as possible until the follow-up visit the next day. Patients with lower amounts of myopia may have vision good enough to drive the next day but should be cautious. Patients who have higher degrees of myopia may actually be overcorrected initially and may experience somewhat blurry vision. This usually lasts for days to weeks depending on the amount of correction.

When can I go back to work?

Most patients return to work the day after the procedure, if your vision permits.

Is LASIK surgery safe?

Yes, the extremely low complication rate has been a primary reason for the popularity of LASIK worldwide. The risk of a serious problem resulting in any loss of vision is about 0.01 percent. More common but less serious problems include under or over corrections, flap-related problems, infection, dry eyes, and night vision problems.

Can LASIK be performed on both eyes at once?

Most patients are opting to have LASIK performed on both eyes on the same day, although this is an individual choice. Advantages include convenience, decreased time lost from work, and easier visual recovery because there is no imbalance between the two eyes when they are both corrected. Disadvantages include safety concerns (for instance, in the rare event of infection, both eyes may be affected) and accuracy concerns (if an overcorrection occurs in one eye, it is likely to occur in the other). An ophthalmologist at our laser vision correction offices can further discuss the advantages and disadvantages of having LASIK performed on both eyes during one visit

What can I expect after laser vision correction?

After laser vision correction is performed, patients are sent home with a sleeping pill and are asked to rest with the eyes closed as much as possible until the follow-up visit the next day. Patients with lower amounts of myopia may have vision good enough to drive the next day but should be cautious. Patients who have higher degrees of myopia may actually be overcorrected initially and may experience somewhat blurry vision. This usually lasts for days to weeks depending on the amount of correction. Prescription eye drops will be used for one week following the surgery at which time the patient will be seen again. Barring any difficulties, the follow-up visit will be in one to two weeks.

Why should I choose North Hills Eye Associates for laser vision correction?

By affiliating with the LASIK Vision Institute of Pittsburgh, North Hills Eye Associates is one of the most experienced providers of laser vision correction in the tri-state area. Our affiliation with the LASIK Vision Institute of Pittsburgh allows for continuous investment in the latest technological advancements, which ensures the latest and most advanced lasers and treatments will always be available to our patients. Additionally, North Hills Eye Associates offers comprehensive medical and surgical eye care. In keeping with this comprehensive philosophy, our refractive surgeons offer all currently available refractive surgical procedures.

Why type of laser do North Hills Eye Associates use for laser vision correction?

At North Hills Eye Associates, we currently use the WaveLight Ex 500 Excimer Laser with pupil tracking.  The laser is kept in a dedicated laser suite, which constantly monitors temperature and humidity to ensure the highest possible accuracy in our treatments.

How can I learn even more about laser vision correction?

Contact us for more information on laser vision correction.  You may qualify for an examination free of charge with  our surgeon. The examination will include dilation of the eyes, measurement of the cornea, and a review of medical history to check for pre-existing diseases. It is imperative to discontinue the use of contact lenses (at least two weeks for soft lenses and four weeks for rigid gas permeable lenses) prior to the evaluation in order for the cornea to return to its natural shape. After your visit, you may continue using the contact lenses again, but will be asked to remove them at least several days before the laser vision correction surgery.

Frequently asked questions about CATARACTS

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a clouding or discoloration of the natural lens.

Does this cataract have to be 'ripe' prior to surgery?

No, the cataract has to be visually significant before cataract surgery. The longer the cataract is in the eye, the harder it is to remove.

Will cataract surgery hurt?

Generally cataract surgery does not hurt. Cataract surgery is performed with a local anesthetic, therefore you should not feel pain. Occasionally, you might feel some slight discomfort. If you should experience any discomfort, please make your doctor aware.

Is cataract surgery performed with a laser?

No, cataracts are removed with rapid frequency sound waves called ultrasound. This process is termed phacoemulsification. A laser, however, is used in other areas of treatment for the eye.

Can you do cataract surgery on both eyes?

No. Because of the very small risk of infection, it is important to wait at least two weeks before operating on the second eye.

How long will I be at the Hospital Surgery Center for my cataract surgery?

The surgical procedure itself takes approximately 30 minutes, but cataract surgery patients can expect to be at the hospital surgery center approximately two to four hours for the preparation and recovery period.

Will I receive a lens implant?

Yes, an intraocular lens (IOL) implant is used to replace the human lens. This prevents the patient from wearing thick glasses or contact lenses after cataract surgery.

If I have regular implants now, can I have Crystalens® or ReSTOR® implants put in later?

No. Once implants have been placed in the eye and they have healed in place, they are very difficult to remove. Crystalens®, ReSTOR®, and other newer types of implants are best suited for people who have never had cataract surgery before.

Will I have sutures after cataract surgery?

In many cases we perform no-stitch cataract surgery at North Hills Eye Associates. If the doctor feels it is beneficial to the patient, the doctor may use a suture, though usually just one. This suture, if needed, is easily removed in the office.

Does the cataract grow back?

The cataract will not grow back, but at a later time the tissue behind the lens implant may become clouded. This condition is known as capsular fibrosis and it can be painlessly treated with a laser in the offices of North Hills Eye Associates. This procedure is called a posterior capsulotomy

How long will the intraocular lens implant last in my eye?

The lens implant will last for the rest of your life.

Will I have to wear glasses after cataract surgery?

In most cases you will require glasses after cataract surgery, especially for reading. You may require a very thin lens to see distant objects along with normal reading glasses. Deluxe IOLs are now available to reduce a patient’s dependence on glasses. The cost of these lenses is not currently covered by Medicare or other insurances. The doctor’s at North Hills Eye Associates may discuss this option with you.

When will I receive my new glasses?

You will receive a new pair of glasses usually four weeks after cataract surgery. This will give the eye time to heal, giving you the best possible vision after surgery.

When can I go back to work?

Your ability to return to work usually depends on your occupation. Most people can return to work the day after cataract surgery once a doctor has given his approval.

When can I drive after cataract surgery?

Each patient's case is evaluated on an individual basis, though generally patients can drive 24 hours after cataract surgery. Please ask your doctor at North Hills Eye Associates for more information.

When can I wash my hair after cataract surgery?

You can wash your hair right after cataract surgery, but do not let the water run directly into the eyes.

After cataract surgery, when can I play golf, bowl, exercise, and engage in other physical activity?

You will usually be able to engage in physical activity the day after cataract surgery. You should consult your doctor at North Hills Eye Associates for more information on your individual case.

After cataract surgery, when can I swim?

You may swim two weeks after cataract surgery.

When can women wear eye make-up?

You should avoid wearing eye make-up for at least one week after cataract surgery.