In all honesty, it can vary. You will be given eye drops before the procedure to numb your eyes. Patients generally feel some pressure on their eye at the beginning of the procedure while the cornea is being prepped for correction, but this is usually not painful and usually lasts less than a minute.
If you’re nervous, you can talk to Dr. Elkins about taking a medication prior to the operation to help calm your nerves.
After the numbing eye drops wear off, you may feel some moderate pain and/or discomfort that could last for a few days. Some people experience no pain. This is a great thing to talk with Dr. Elkins about it. He will be able to advise what pain medications you can take to manage this discomfort if you need to.
To understand how LASIK lasers work, you first have to understand lasers in general.
Lasers are a form of light that appear nowhere in nature, meaning that all lasers are necessarily created by human technology.
The light you’re used to seeing (like the sun, etc.) is called “natural light.” Natural light is made up of many different wavelengths, each of which we see as a different color. Lasers, on the other hand, are monochromatic, meaning they consist of a single color (or wavelength).
As is implied by the name, wavelengths are literally shaped like waves. In natural light, the high points and low points of these waves don’t match up. In fact, they’re kind of all over the place. In laser light, all of the wavelengths move together. The high and low points of the waves line up perfectly, forming something scientists call “coherent” light.
Natural light also tends to move in many different directions, which is why when you turn on a flashlight, you get a wide shaft of light instead of a single concentrated beam. Laser light is “collimated,” meaning it travels in one direction and can be concentrated on a single point in space.
The fact that laser light is monochromatic, coherent and collimated means that you can concentrate a tremendous amount of energy into a single beam of incredible power. This beam is useful for cutting through things, certainly, but in the last few decades, scientists have begun putting lasers to use in other remarkable ways — like LASIK.
Picking the right car to lease? Easy. Picking the right person to date? Piece of cake. Picking the doctor to perform corrective surgery on your eyes?? Stressful.
Ok, all of those decisions are stressful, but this is on a whole other level, and rightfully so. These are your eyes. How do you possibly pick the right ophthalmologist?
Do you go by the best deal? Maybe, but these are your eyes we’re talking about here and an ad in a free newspaper for $299 LASIK doesn’t exactly inspire the most confidence…
You want to choose a doctor you’ll feel confident with, and it’s not a bad idea to consult with more than one before you decide. But how do you know how to stack them up against one another? What questions should you ask?
Try these ones:
Tell me about your training.
Of course you want your doctor to be licensed to perform LASIK in your state, but it’s also good to find out if she’s certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. Board certified doctors are required to receive specific training, and to stay current on the latest and best practices by continuing their medical education to maintain their certification.
In addition, there are also fellowships in refractive and corneal surgery you can ask about, and any other credentials that might be relevant to their experience. Further, doctors that use specific LASIK technologies like the iDesign System (more on that below) receive certification in those specific machines too.
What is your LASIK experience?
How many procedures do you perform in a year?
It’s good to get a sense for how often your surgeon is performing LASIK procedures for your own comfort.
Can you refer me to a former patient or two of yours I can talk to?
You’d ask for references from a contractor redoing your kitchen. It’s a good idea to get them for someone who’s about to correct your vision.
Imagine going for a spontaneous swim without worrying about your contacts, or finally being able to see your alarm clock in the morning. Imagine not groping around in a panic every time you drop a contact on the bathroom floor.
Sounds amazing, we know, but what else should you be thinking about? This is a medical procedure, after all. What’s recovery like?
Life (Right) After LASIK
The few days of and after the procedure require a bit of advance planning. You’ll need a driver to take to and from your procedure (obviously), and your doctor will give you a pair of protective shields to wear afterwards to prevent you from rubbing your eyes (even if you triple pinkie swear that you won’t).
Yes, for those of you with mild to moderate astigmatism, LASIK can probably help.
What is astigmatism?
If you’ve got astigmatism, your cornea is shaped more like a football. It’s a fetching look, to be sure, but it means that light bends unevenly as it enters the eye, causing blurriness. Basically, the more like a football your eye looks, the worse your vision is likely to be.
There are two types of astigmatism – regular and irregular. Regular astigmatism is by far the most common and is probably hereditary. Irregular astigmatism is much less common and can be caused by eye disease or injury.
Almost everybody has astigmatism to one degree or another, though most don’t require treatment.