LASIK Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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 reasons to not move forward with surgery, 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 afterward.

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; however, 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 and 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.

How soon will I see well after LASIK?

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 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. 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 approximately 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 is usually 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 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, there is some risk. At our practice, we have had no serious, sight-threatening problems.

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, our 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 20/50, 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.

Who is a candidate for PRK?

Ideal candidates for PRK eye surgery are healthy individuals with realistic expectations of the results. Additionally, candidates must have a refractive error that is stable (has not changed for at least a year) and between +5.00 to -12.00 diopters. Patients with pre-existing conditions including collagen vascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, keratoconus, or glaucoma may not be good candidates for PRK. Patients should notify our surgeons of previous steroid use as this may also make them ineligible for PRK.

Can I use my HSA or FSA for LASIK?

Yes. With a tax-free Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you can pay for your LASIK surgery with pre-tax dollars, which could mean a 20 percent discount for those who are eligible.

Employer HSAs or FSAs are a popular way to reduce the cost of LASIK surgery. Participating employees are able to set aside pre-tax dollars for LASIK surgery and other approved medical expenses. Depending on income level, you can save up to $2,000 a year with certain HSAs or FSAs. Remember, most flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts don’t roll over to the following year. Be sure to plan and prepare so you don’t lose your contributions.

Tips for Using HSA or FSA on LASIK Surgery:

  • Be sure to check with your HR department for enrollment deadlines in your company’s HSA or FSA benefits.
  • Schedule a complimentary consultation with Hoopes Vision to find out if you are a candidate for LASIK surgery before you transfer money into a medical savings account.
What is the difference between LASIK and PRK?

PRK, the earliest form of laser refractive surgery is similar to LASIK. The main difference between these treatments is that PRK eye surgery does not involve the use of a laser to create a flap in the top layer of corneal tissue. Instead, a section of the outer, top layer of the cornea – the epithelium – is gently removed during the procedure.

How is PRK performed?

Numbing drops are administered so that the surgeon can operate on the eye without the patient feeling any pain. While LASIK surgery requires the surgeon to create a corneal flap and fold it back to access the inner cornea, PRK requires the surgeon to remove a section of the surface layer (one to two cells thick) of the cornea called the epithelium.

After the section of epithelium has been removed, the surgeon reshapes the cornea with an excimer laser to correct the anomaly that has been causing vision problems. Once the cornea has been reshaped, the area is “bandaged” with a special contact lens that helps the eye feel more comfortable and allows the epithelium to heal.

How soon can I go back to work after PRK surgery?

It is important to take it easy and get plenty of rest during the first few days after the procedure. You may return to work and/or drive when you are confident with your vision and when your comfort allows.

What is the recovery process after PRK surgery

After surgery, the eye can feel as if it has experienced a scrape or abrasion. To minimize discomfort, a soft “bandage” contact lens is placed on the eye for four to five days to smooth and cover the surface until the epithelium has healed underneath. Vision is usually a little blurry at first but improves after the epithelium or surface has healed. Studies have shown that after three weeks, visual acuity of PRK patients generally matches that of LASIK patients.

Why would a doctor recommend PRK over LASIK?

PRK is primarily recommended for patients who have thin corneas, have irregularities show up on their topography scans (irregular astigmatism), or are in professions that are not allowed to have LASIK.

What is wavefront-optimized technology?

Wavefront-optimized treatments help preserve the natural prolate (round) shape of the patient’s cornea after treatment. This reduced an increase in higher-order aberrations that most all other lasers created.

What is the newest wavefront-optimized laser approved by the FDA?

The Wavelight EX500 is the fastest and most precise vision correction laser available in the United States.

What is the benefit of wavefront-optimized technology?

Wavefront-optimized lasers such as the Allegretto Wave Eye-Q and Zeiss MEL-80 were the first lasers certified by the FDA to reduce nighttime halo and glare, which were among the most common reported side effects of the traditional LASIK procedure.

Are all LASIK surgery centers required to use the newest wavefront-optimized laser technology approved by the FDA?

No. The older generations of laser technology are still FDA approved and are in use all across the U.S. While this technology is still capable of freeing you from glasses and contacts and improving your quality of vision, wavefront-optimized technology maintains the natural prolate shape of the cornea. This results in reduced issues such as nighttime halo and glare when compared to earlier generation lasers. It is important to do your research and select a center that invests in the most advanced technology to ensure yourself the best possible postoperative vision.

When was LASIK approved by the FDA?

LASIK was formally granted final FDA approval in 1999. This marked a new era in surgical vision correction: LASIK had proven far more predictable, safe, effective, and permanent than earlier refractive procedures such as radial keratotomy (RK) and automated lamellar keratoplasty (ALK).

What is blade-free LASIK?

The first major advance in technology after FDA approval was the introduction of blade-free LASIK, also known as “all-laser LASIK.” Blade-free LASIK uses a computer-guided laser, called a femtosecond laser, to create the flap that was formerly made with an oscillating steel microkeratome blade.

Are you a candidate for blade-free LASIK?

Patients who make the best candidates for LASIK include those who are in good health, are at least 18 years of age, and have healthy eyes with no diseases of the cornea or retina. It is also necessary to have a prescription that has been stable for at least one year.

As with any surgery, risks and complications are associated with the LASIK procedure. Patients uncomfortable with the possible risks and complications and those with unrealistic expectations about how LASIK can improve their vision should consider other treatments that have comparable results. Our qualified surgeons at Hoopes Vision will be able to assess whether you are a candidate for LASIK or another refractive surgery. If you live in Salt Lake City or anywhere else in Utah and beyond, contact Hoopes Vision for a free evaluation.

Will my blade free LASIK procedure hurt?

The procedure itself is not painful since medication is administered to make you feel comfortable. Postoperatively, most patients experience little or no discomfort. After the procedure, your eyes may feel scratchy, gritty, or watery. These are temporary symptoms and are not a problem for most patients.

Can both eyes be done 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.

How soon after the surgery will i be able to see?

Visual recovery varies from one day to one week. The majority of patients resume normal activities one to two days following surgery but it may take one to two months for your vision to fully stabilize.

Can I wear my contacts before my surgery?

Because contact lenses can alter the shape of your cornea, you will need to remove your contacts prior to your pre-operative exam. If you wear soft lenses, they should be removed a minimum of five days before your exam. If you wear rigid/gas permeable lenses, remove them at least three weeks prior to your exam. By removing the lenses, the cornea will be restored to a more natural shape before measurements are taken. Following your pre-operative exam, if you are a soft lens wearer, lenses must be out at least five days prior to treatment. If you wear rigid/gas permeable lenses, you may be asked to leave your lenses out until your day of surgery.

Do you have financing plans?

Hoopes Vision offers financing through Care Credit. We have several different payment plans available, including no-interest financing for 18 and 24 months, or extended terms of up to 60 months. Plans are available to make your blade free LASIK fit into nearly any budget.

What is the newest laser used for blade-free LASIK?

The new WaveLight® Refractive Suite is the newest advancement in laser vision correction. The WaveLight® Refractive Suite offers patients the fastest, most precise, most comfortable laser vision correction available anywhere.

What is the benefit of wavefront-optimized lasers?

Wavefront-guided treatments perform a custom ablation based on detailed maps (known as wavefront maps) of the patient’s corneas. Wavefront-optimized treatments preserve the natural prolate (round) shape of the patient’s cornea after treatment. The EX500 and Zeiss MEL-80 reduce nighttime halo and glare, which were among the most common reported side effects of the traditional LASIK procedure.

What if I'm not a good candidate for LASIK or PRK?

At Hoopes Vision, we have several other procedures available for those who may not be good candidates for LASIK or PRK. The following are two of the many options available:

1. Implantable collamer lenses, or ICLs, a procedure in which a lens, similar in function to a contact lens, is implanted in the eye in front of the eye’s natural lens. Hoopes Vision is among the country’s most experienced ICL practices.

2. Clear lens exchange, or CLE (sometimes referred to as refractive lens exchange, or RLE), a procedure in which the eye’s natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. CLE is the same procedure as cataract surgery; the only difference is that CLE is performed before cataracts develop and often on “dysfunctional human lenses.”

What vision problems are correctable?

LASIK and PRK are commonly used to correct refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism.

I have seen several advertisements for "All-laser LASIK." Is this Intralase?

Be sure to ask the surgeon if he/she uses the INTRALASE laser by name. Only the INTRALASE iFS laser can provide the computer-controlled laser precision required for maximum predictability. Your surgeon can explain the difference between other procedures that may be advertised as “all-laser”, such as LASEK or PRK which are surface ablations that do not require the creation of a corneal flap. These procedures generally require longer healing time and frequently involve more discomfort.

How many LASIK procedures have been performed at Hoopes Vision?

With over 80,000 procedures and counting, Hoopes Vision is by far the most experienced LASIK provider in Utah.

How many blade-free LASIK procedures have been performed at Hoopes Vision?

Since upgrading to blade-free LASIK technology in 2003 (the first practice in Salt Lake City to do so), our surgeons have performed over 50,000 blade-free LASIK procedures, twice as many as any other LASIK provider in the state.

Are the surgeons at Hoopes Vision board certified?

Our surgeons are board-certified. A board-certified Eye M.D. has passed a rigorous two-part examination given by the American Board of Ophthalmology designed to assess his or her knowledge, experience, and skills.

Do you have corneal specialists at Hoopes Vision?

The cornea specialists at Hoopes Vision are Board Certified, fellowship-trained, and are at the absolute leading edge of cornea transplant technology. Their training and experience allow them to recommend the best, safest option for each individual patient’s needs and carry out that option with confidence and expertise.

Can I have LASIK if I have eyelash extensions?

If you already have eyelash extensions: Before your consultation with us, please leave them on. The chemical that is used to remove the lashes can be harsh and irritate the eye.

If you do not already have eyelash extensions: Please wait 6 weeks post-surgery to have them applied.

If you have eyelash extensions and you’re undergoing LASIK or PRK surgery: Keep in mind that your eyelashes will be taped down during the surgery and some lashes may fall out.

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