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LASIK Eye Surgery FAQs – Facts, Benefits and Results – Answers from Our Utah Surgeons 

LASIK Eye Surgery FAQs – Facts, Benefits and Results – Answers from Our Utah SurgeonsPeople who are considering LASIK eye surgery are often unsure about the facts regarding the benefits and results of the procedure. Our surgeons, who serve Utah's Provo, Ogden, and Salt Lake City areas and even beyond, however, are dedicated to clearing up any uncertainties our prospective patients may have by addressing their concerns and answering their questions. Contact Hoopes Vision to schedule a free, no-pressure consultation with one of our highly trained surgeons.

Questions about the LASIK Procedure

The LASIK procedure can be frightening for prospective patients who still have many questions about LASIK. We've provided the answers to the most commonly asked questions about LASIK.

Does it hurt?

There is usually no pain or discomfort associated with LASIK or laser vision correction surgery. The eye is anesthetized with numbing drops at the start of the procedure. Pressure can be felt, but it is not uncomfortable. For the first 12 to 24 hours afterwards, the eye can feel scratchy.

How long does the procedure take?

LASIK eye surgery is famous for the many benefits it affords. Notably, the surgery usually takes less than 10 minutes at our facility near Provo, and is performed on an outpatient basis. Patients can expect to remain at the laser center for about two hours on the day of the procedure.

Can both eyes be corrected at the same time?

Yes. Most surgeons operate on both eyes at the same sitting. The results are so predictable and the procedure so safe that most people undergoing LASIK surgery prefer to have both eyes corrected on the same day. It also restores your balanced vision as quickly as possible, which is especially helpful if you are unable to wear a contact lens in the unoperated eye.

Who is a good candidate for LASIK vision correction?

Generally speaking, to be a good candidate for LASIK you should:

  • Be at least 18 years of age or older.
  • Have a stable prescription for at least one year prior to your procedure.
  • Be free of any diseases of the cornea and retina.
  • Be in good health.
  • Have reasonable and realistic expectations.

In addition, the most ideal candidates for LASIK are well-educated about the facts. As the leading experts in Utah, our staff and surgeons are dedicated to providing accurate and honest answers in our ongoing effort to spread LASIK education.

Who is not a good candidate for LASIK?

  • Anyone whose prescription is actively changing more than one diopter per year.
  • Pregnant or nursing mothers with unstable refractions.
  • Anyone who feels that he or she must absolutely gain 20/20 vision without glasses or contact lenses (No surgeon can guarantee 20/20 vision without correction. Think of it, instead, as achieving a vastly decreased dependency on glasses and contact lenses.).
  • Anyone unwilling to accept the possible risks and complications of LASIK surgery results.
  • Anyone with an uncontrolled or untreated eye disease. Certain corneal dystrophies or a history or herpetic keratitis (a herpes infection in the eye) may be relative contraindications, as are certain arthritic syndromes and other autoimmune disorders.
  • Anyone on certain medications (including Accutane®, etc.).

What if I move my eye during surgery?

Each of our ultra-modern LASIK excimer lasers has built-in tracking devices able to adjust the placement of the laser if and when your eye makes an involuntary movement. Some of these devices can track movement up to 4,000 times per second. If your eye were to move too far out of range, the laser simply stops until it can get back on target. The LASIK surgery can then continue, usually with the same excellent results afterwards.

What type of anesthesia will be used and what if I'm nervous?

The only type of anesthesia used is anesthetic eye drops. These are very effective in making this a truly painless surgery. The doctor and nurses will usually give you a small dose of some medication, such as Valium®, to take by mouth to help you stay calm.

What is the difference between PRK and LASIK?

Both procedures use the excimer laser to reshape the cornea and correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The difference is that, with PRK, the laser is used on the surface of the eye, while in LASIK the laser work is performed on a surface underneath a thin, protective corneal flap. The long-term results of both procedures are similar. Visual recovery with LASIK is usually faster, with less discomfort. If you are interested in undergoing LASIK or PRK, learn the facts from the leading surgeons in Utah by contacting Hoopes Vision today.

Is LASIK approved by the Food and Drug Administration?

In 1995, the FDA approved the use of the excimer laser for the treatment of myopia using PRK. Then, in the fall of 1999, LASIK was approved by the FDA after much analysis of the facts, results, and case studies. In recent years, LASIK has gained popularity in many practices and has become the procedure of choice for permanent refractive correction worldwide.

I have dry eyes. Will this condition affect my LASIK surgery?

Many patients seeking refractive surgery do so because they have dry eyes and are unable to wear contact lenses anymore. It is important that your dry eyes be treated before you undergo LASIK. This process usually involves the use of tear supplements and punctal plugs (tiny silicone plugs placed in the tear drainage openings of your eyelids) that delay the drainage of your own tears so that your eyes will stay moist.

After the procedure, your operated eye may feel temporarily drier because the corneal nerves are severed during LASIK surgery, causing the eye to produce fewer tears. This condition is usually temporary and typically lasts three to six months. Dry eye symptoms can be particularly noticeable if you use the computer frequently, read for long periods of time, or drive extended distances. These types of activities exacerbate dry eyes because they cause you to stare and not blink as often. It is important to use ample lubrication, especially during the first few months after surgery.

Questions about LASIK Results / After LASIK

Many prospective patients are not as concerned about the actual procedure as they are about the effects LASIK will have on them following the surgery.

How soon will I see well?

Most patients see clearly within 24 hours of surgery and are able to drive after their first-day postoperative exam. Many return to work and resume normal activities within a few days of LASIK. The results of the surgery will take several weeks to stabilize completely. Patients from Ogden and surrounding areas in Utah, including Salt Lake City and Sandy, can contact Hoopes Vision to inquire further about recovery time.

What limitations are there after surgery?

We suggest that the patient go home immediately after the surgery and relax for a few hours, if possible. We ask the patient to avoid reading or up-close work for the remainder of the day. You will also be asked to place drops in your eye about every four hours. Many patients return to work the next day after their postoperative exams. You should not drive until you are seeing well, which you usually will by the next day. We will give you protective, clear shields to place over your eyes at night during the first week to keep you from inadvertently rubbing them.

What are my chances of not having to wear glasses or contacts?

Your likelihood of avoiding the need for eyewear depends on how severe your prescription or correction is. Our most recent results show that nearly 90 percent of our nearsighted patients see 20/20 or better, and nearly 99 percent will be 20/40 (good enough to pass a driving test) or better. However, post-LASIK results will vary and as the surgery is really designed to improve and reduce your current refractive error and not necessarily to make your vision perfect. You may still need to wear glasses and, as you get older, you will most likely require reading glasses to see up close (like everyone else who is not nearsighted!). For realistic expectations for your unique vision, please schedule a free, no-obligation LASIK screening.

Can I go blind from LASIK?

To date, there have not been any reported cases of blindness stemming from LASIK, and there are no facts that show that any serious, vision-threatening problems were encountered in the FDA studies for the surgery’s approval. There have been cases of damaged or reduced vision after PRK and LASIK that were related to infections, haze and scarring, botched flap formation, or improper positioning. Many of these problems were improved at a later date. As with any type of surgery, anything can happen. At our particular practice, we have had no serious sight-threatening problems so far.

Can you guarantee 20/20 vision?

At Hoopes Vision, we perform our LASIK treatments with the utmost confidence. We believe that the safety and effectiveness of our technologies, combined with the extensive experience of our dedicated surgeons, offer our patients the best chance to achieve optimal vision.

Our confidence allows us to offer the See Clearly Guarantee and Assurance Program, Utah's only free, full money-back guarantee. If you don't obtain at least 20/25 vision within the 12-month LASIK postoperative period, we will refund the full procedure cost. Additionally, if your vision ever falls below 20/40, Hoopes Vision will provide enhancements or touch-ups at no extra cost.

To learn more about the terms and restrictions of our See Clearly Guarantee and Assurance Program, or to learn more LASIK facts by speaking with some of the most trusted surgeons in Utah, please contact Hoopes Vision today to schedule a consultation.

What are the results of LASIK surgery?

Results may vary from surgeon to surgeon and from center to center. Therefore, it is important to ask your surgeon about his or her experience and results. Results also vary depending on your initial refractive error. With higher amounts of myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism, results are less predictable and retreatments are more common.

How long will the correction last?

When people first research LASIK, one of the most astonishing facts they come across regards how long the correction lasts. Once your eye has stabilized (which is about three months with LASIK and six months with PRK), your correction is permanent. Any additional need for glasses after that will usually be the result of normal aging processes that befall everyone and not due to any instability of the refractive procedure’s outcome.

What about enhancement surgery?

In the event that you are undercorrected or overcorrected, it is usually possible for us to perform an additional treatment. First, though, your eye must stabilize. Typically, retreatment with LASIK takes place three months or so after the original procedure. With PRK, this step may occur after about six months to one year. In PRK, the front surface of the cornea is treated again, and the recovery time is a week to a month. With LASIK, the corneal flap may not need to be recreated. Using specialized instruments, the surgeon can gently lift the pre-existing flap and perform additional laser work. Recovery time is similar to the original procedure. There is usually no charge for enhancement surgery if it is performed in the first year after the original surgery. There are many criteria that determine if a patient can have enhancements, including the amount of residual prescription and the amount of tissue remaining. Ideally, the LASIK or PRK retreatment will provide results that allow the patient to enjoy optimal vision.

If I need or want to, can I wear contact lenses after surgery?

If you were able to wear contact lenses comfortably before LASIK, it is unlikely that you will have problems afterward.

Can there be a problem with my eyes 20 years from now because I had LASIK?

This development is very unlikely. LASIK is a form of lamellar refractive surgery. The original lamellar refractive surgery (myopic keratomileusis) has been performed since 1949. Patients who have undergone these related but less accurate and more invasive procedures 50 years ago have not developed any unusual problems.

Can I have cataract surgery if I need it in the future?

Yes. The surgical technique used will not change. However, your lens implant will be designed using a different formula.

Will having LASIK prevent me from getting other eye diseases?

No. Unfortunately, among the many LASIK eye surgery benefits, the prevention of cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, macular degeneration, or any other eye disease is not included. Ophthalmologists term LASIK as “disease neutral:” it does not cause disease, it does not prevent disease, and it does not prevent diseases encountered in the future from being treated.

A note on retinal detachment: severely nearsighted people are at a greater risk for retinal detachment. Generally, the more nearsighted one is, the greater the risk. It is important to understand that after LASIK the eye is still anatomically myopic (structurally too long) and subject to the same retinal detachment risk as before the procedure.

When can I drive?

With LASIK, you can usually drive within one to three days. Most departments of motor vehicles grant unrestricted driving privileges to individuals who possess 20/40 or better vision. Well over 90 percent of our patients who undergo LASIK eye surgery have this level of vision or better by the first day after their procedures.

When can I return to work?

After undergoing LASIK eye surgery, one of the most significant benefits that you will experience is, in most cases, the ability to return to work the next day. If you work in a dusty or dirty environment, you may need to wait longer before returning to work. While most patients can function normally at work one day after their LASIK procedures, we recommend that you not schedule any unbreakable appointments or meetings on that day. That way, if your recovery is delayed slightly, you will still be able to accommodate the delay without any undue stress.

Questions about Hoopes Vision

For people who would like to know more about Hoopes Vision, here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding our vision institute.

What is your lifetime guarantee?

Our surgeons are committed to providing LASIK eye surgery and its benefits to our patients from Provo, Salt Lake City, Sandy, and beyond. At Hoopes Vision, we offer our See Clearly Guarantee and Assurance Program to reflect the confidence we hold in the experience of our surgeons and the quality of our technologies.

The See Clearly Guarantee and Assurance Program is a free, full money-back guarantee if you fail to reach 20/25 vision or better within the 12-month LASIK post-operative period. We will also provide enhancements and touch-ups at no additional cost if your vision ever falls below 20/40. The See Clearly Guarantee is provided to our patients at no charge.

Though not all pre-operative prescriptions will qualify, contact Hoopes Vision today to learn more about the terms and restrictions of Utah's only free See Clearly Guarantee.

What does laser vision correction surgery cost?

LASIK costs from $1,300 to $2,500 per eye depending on your area of the country. At Hoopes Vision the cost will usually range from $1,850 to $2,350 per eye depending primarily on the type of technology used. When comparing costs of various LASIK centers it is important to determine which technology is offered, and make sure there are no additional hidden fees. For example, LASIK centers that offer safer, blade-free LASIK with IntraLase™ will cost more than those relying on older microkeratome technology.

Also the newest procedures, like wavefront-optimized procedures on the ALLEGRETTO WAVE™ Eye-Q 400 laser may cost a little more than, say, a wavefront-guided procedure on the VISX® laser. Generally speaking, the newer technology will cost slightly more (usually within a few hundred dollars), but may be a worthwhile investment that could affect the rest of your life.

When comparing LASIK centers, be sure to ask what is included in the cost. Some LASIK centers will offer a free screening with a technician or counselor, but will charge a fee to meet with the doctor. Other centers offer a guarantee, or insurance, but charge additionally for it. Some may charge for any type of enhancement if needed. At Hoopes Vision, our free LASIK exam includes all the testing required for surgery, and one-on-one time with our doctors and surgeons so you can be sure you are a good candidate before deciding whether or not you wish to have surgery. Our procedure fees include all follow-up visits for one year and enhancements in the first year if necessary and possible. In addition, most patients quality for our free See Clearly Guarantee. Among other benefits, this guarantee may qualify patients for no-charge enhancements later on. There is no charge for our guarantee, but some restrictions may apply. Please contact our office, or come in for a complimentary LASIK exam for more details.

Affordable payment plans, including zero percent interest for up to 18 months or low interest payments for up to five years, are usually available to qualified LASIK eye surgery candidates. Feel free to ask about the facts, benefits, or results at Hoopes Vision of Sandy, which serves the Salt Lake, Provo, and Ogden areas of Utah.

One way to save substantially is to use flexible benefit or medical savings accounts to pay for the procedure using pre-tax dollars. Ask your employer's benefits administrator about flexible benefits. At our vision institute, we have financial counselors available to discuss payment options and covered services.

Some patients elect to undergo "discount" LASIK eye surgery for a much cheaper price. Unfortunately, the benefits of these discount surgeries are often outweighed by the risks that come with them. Some patients end up getting what they pay for. We do not recommend choosing a surgeon or LASIK center – or any other type of surgery – based on bargain prices.

Another surgeon is offering LASIK surgery for under $300. What's the catch?

The biggest decision a patient faces is choosing the right surgeon. Your vision is far too precious to entrust to someone merely because they offer the cheapest price. A surgeon's experience and abilities are worth the extra price. Make sure they are board certified and trained at a reputable residency program. Check to see if they have had additional or fellowship training. Do they have a good reputation and do other eye doctors (optometrists and ophthalmologists) in the community send or refer patients to them? Do they have access to excellent equipment, facilities, and the most up-to-date lasers?

Most informed patients are more than willing to pay a premium price for experience, skill, and results. We have rarely, if ever, had a happy post-operative patient complain that they paid too much for the result they were able to achieve! Most believe that it was one of the best investments they ever made. Many laser practices offer financing to help ease the financial burden. Avoid the discount centers, as you may get what you pay for! Most of the foreign, low-cost laser centers do not provide the necessary and needed follow-up care that is so critical to a successful result and the safety of the procedure.

Be aware of anyone or any center that promises perfect results or discount centers that offer lifetime guarantees. Most won't be around long enough to fulfill these claims. The first discount laser center, LASIK Vision Corp. of Vancouver, Canada, filed bankruptcy in April 2001, leaving 16,000 patients across North America owed more than $10 million in refunds from required up-front deposits. The company also promised lifetime guarantees. ICON, another Canadian company and Utah's first discount laser center, issued a press release May 16, 2001, admitting that it was in serious financial trouble and filed bankruptcy in June, 2001. Patients of ICON were left without refunds on their deposits and with no lifetime guarantees. Salt Lake City-based 20/20 Vision Centers closed its doors in July 2003, leaving hundreds of patients needing touch-ups/enhancements and follow up care on their own. Other laser centers that have declared bankruptcy, been taken over, or no longer exist include: Aris Laser Centers, Beacon Laser Centers, Clear Vision Laser Centers, Laser Vision Centers, Vision America, Vision Twenty One, Global Vision, Clear Choice Laser Centers, and Prime Medical Centers.

When it comes to something as important as your eyes and vision, don't be tempted by cheap fees and fast cures! If you or a relative needed serious brain or heart surgery, would you honestly choose to go to a discount surgeon or center? Why is your precious vision any less important? Can you imagine anyone wanting to go to the "Discount Heart Center" for triple-bypass surgery for only $450?

What about those unbelievably low prices ($299-$499/eye) that are advertised for LASIK? Sounds too good to be true? It is. The sad truth is that this is simply a bait-and-switch marketing ploy to get patients in the door and financially committed. Many people believe this retail sales tactic to be unethical and suggest that patients avoid centers that have to resort to such a ploy to obtain "customers." It is estimated that less than two percent of patient's prescriptions qualify for the lower prices. An asterisk next to the low price notifies the consumer in small print that the price varies according to prescription and astigmatism. One discount center offers patients the choice of 15 different prices that are dependent on severity of prescription, laser, length of follow-up, and whether or not touch-ups are included. The only patients receiving the cheap price are those with mild degrees of myopia less than - 1.75 diopters (D) of sphere without astigmatism, and on a less expensive laser where enhancements (additional $699 charge) and long-term follow-up are not included. Once any amount of astigmatism is present (which exists in most patients) or when the prescription is higher, an increased fee is charged. For example, if a patient has close to an average prescription (-3.50 D sphere with 0.75 D of astigmatism), the price jumps to $1,399/eye on a less expensive laser. If you choose the more expensive laser, the price jumps to $1,699/eye. Premium lasers and custom treatments cost even more. Therefore, the average patient can easily end up paying as much or more at these clinics than the usual, customary fee of more respected and ethical medical practices. Even though most discount centers promote the latest and best technologies, they currently do not offer IntraLase™ technology.

Some discount centers require patients pay non-refundable "deposits" of up to $300 to have their screening exams (performed by "counselors") to see if they are candidates for LASIK. They are then told their prescription does not qualify for the lowest price and are given several "treatment plans" and options to choose from. By the time they find out what their price will be, it is difficult to walk away from their non-refundable deposit.

It is hard to understand why any surgeon who should be putting the health and welfare of patients first, and not money and volume, would want to sign up to work at a discount center. Rather than making patients choose treatment options based on pricing, quality of lasers, and follow up care, shouldn't the surgeon be making those important decisions for their patients? Why would any surgeon not want to offer their patients the very best lasers and newest techniques (the highest priced procedure) to begin with? Most respected surgeons view discount surgery to be shameful and an embarrassment to medicine.

Finally, make sure you are given a proper and thorough explanation as to the risks, benefits, and outcomes to be expected with your refractive surgical procedure. Patient education and informed consent is vital with laser surgery. It is an active process between the doctor and the patient that allows an intelligent decision to be made regarding the benefits versus the risks of surgery. This decision is made even more difficult because it involves an elective procedure performed on an otherwise healthy eye. No matter how well known, famous, or experienced advertising makes the doctor out to be, make sure that you meet with and are examined personally by the surgeon prior to your surgery. The doctor should be available to answer any remaining concerns and questions you might have.

Will insurance companies pay for LASIK surgery?

Some insurance companies will pay for the procedure, but that is the exception rather than the rule. It does not hurt to ask, though. At Hoopes Vision, we do offer discounts for many of the major insurance companies.

What is the Hoopes Vision Research Center?

Our reputation for excellence in eye surgery means that we are often selected to participate in and perform clinical research studies. In fact, Dr. Phillip C. Hoopes participated in many of the clinical trials involved in the development of laser vision correction surgery. These studies are performed for companies involved in the research and development of new technologies and improvements in LASIK surgery results. We hope to pass these advancements on to our patients, as well as our patients from Salt Lake City, Provo, and beyond, as part of our commitment to providing the best care possible.

How much experience does Dr. Hoopes have?

Dr. Phillip C. Hoopes is the most experienced LASIK and IntraLASIK surgeon in Utah. He has performed more than 42,000 LASIK and refractive surgeries and over 70,000 vision correction surgeries in total. There are only a few clinics in the country with that much experience and even fewer that have access to the facilities and technologies that are available at Hoopes Vision. As a leading LASIK eye surgery expert, Dr. Hoopes is prepared to explain the facts, benefits, and potential results of the procedure to patients from Ogden, Provo, Salt Lake City, the rest of Utah, and beyond.

Contact Hoopes Vision near Provo and Ogden

As prevalent as LASIK eye surgery is, many prospective patients are unaware of the facts surrounding the results and benefits of the procedure. We make sure our patients from Salt Lake City, Provo, Ogden, and the rest of Utah are educated about each of the refractive procedures we offer. To learn more about any of our services, please contact our practice today and schedule a consultation. We offer free, no-obligation examinations performed by our doctors and surgeons to let each patient know what options are available, what outcomes to expect, and what costs will be involved.

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