Seeing LASIK More Clearly: Your Top Questions Answered

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Over the years, LASIK has been touted as a panacea for a host of eye conditions, but its tried-and-true intent is to improve vision for those who are fed up with glasses and contacts. If you are seriously considering LASIK, here are some of the common questions asked at ophthalmology offices.

How safe is LASIK, really?

Very, very safe. LASIK has always been recognized for its patient safety, but current devices and techniques offer more precision and stability than ever before. Overall, the risk of serious complications is less than 1%. Experts emphasize that the best way to keep this number as low as possible is by choosing an ophthalmologist with a history of successful LASIK procedures and experience with your particular condition.

For more specific advice on making sure you approach the procedure as safely as possible, the FDA provides excellent guidance in its LASIK surgery checklist.

Having a laser so close to my eyes really scares me. How can I feel more comfortable before the procedure?

Despite its well-known safety record, LASIK can still be extremely anxiety-provoking for many people. Ophthalmologists understand this, and most are happy to take the time to answer your questions and address your concern in detail. In most cases, you'll be given a sedative prior to your procedure to help reduce your feelings of anxiety. And if your doctor shrugs off your concerns, it may be time to find a new one.

What does the procedure feel like?

Not much. Before the procedure, your doctor administers anesthetic drops to your eyes, which keep them completely numb for the duration of the procedure. As the laser works, you may feel a sensation of pressure, but many patients say they don't feel anything at all. After LASIK, it's normal for your eyes to feel temporarily gritty, dry, or irritated. You'll probably find that your eyes feel much better after taking a brief nap.

Can LASIK treat my astigmatism?

There's been some confusion regarding the promises and limitations of LASIK, especially when it comes to astigmatism. Let's start with its definition: Astigmatism is a very common refractive error that occurs when the cornea is misshapen. While normal eyes are perfectly round, people with astigmatism have eyes that are slightly oblong, somewhat like a football.

Astigmatism can be effectively corrected with glasses and contacts — and, often, LASIK. During a LASIK procedure to correct astigmatism, the laser reshapes the surface of the eye, making it symmetrical and thereby improving vision.

Some practices offer different variations of LASIK to treat different conditions. Here in Jacksonville, the Bowden Eye Center offers several different versions of the procedure for maximum precision and personalization. Very severe cases of astigmatism may require more than 1 procedure to produce the desired result.

How long will I need to take off from work?

Most patients need to take only the day of surgery off from work, making LASIK especially appealing to working professionals or anyone with a busy schedule.

Is LASIK covered by insurance?

Unfortunately, most private insurance doesn't cover LASIK because it's considered an elective procedure. Most eye care professionals do offer financing options to make the procedure accessible to as many people as possible.

• This post sponsored by Bowden Eye •