Each year, thousands of people come to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute for vision correction surgery. The questions below are some of the most common inquiries we receive. If your question is not answered below, please contact us. We would be more than happy to answer your questions personally.
Laser vision correction surgeries treat common refractive errors, including: nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism (blurry vision). Laser vision correction surgery is an outpatient procedure. It requires local anesthesia and a mild sedative, taken orally. Most patients experience improved vision right after surgery, with little downtime and wake up with good vision the next day. Eyesight continues to improve within the next few weeks following surgery. We provide our patients with support and follow-up care during this recovery period.
Bascom Palmer’s ophthalmologists have successfully performed LASIK procedures since our refractive surgery center opened in 1995.
- Nearsightedness (myopia): Difficulty seeing objects at a distance, but can usually see up close.
- Farsightedness (hyperopia): Difficulty seeing clearly from up close.
- Astigmatism (blurry vision): Distorted vision, similar to looking into a wavy mirror.
- Presbyopia (age-related vision loss): Difficulty seeing up close, but can usually see at a distance, due to aging.
We use the VISX S3, the Zeiss MEL 80, and the Allegretto EX 500 excimer lasers as well as the Zeiss Visumax, the Intralase IFS, the J&J IFS, and the Alcon FS200 femtosecond lasers. Excimer lasers use different computer-guided processes to deliver highly customized vision correction treatments. Femtosecond laser, a next-generation laser that reshapes the cornea with pulses of light lasting just one billionth of one millionth of a second, deliver very smooth treatments. Using the equipment’s computer-generated 3-D mapping system, your physician customizes your procedure with extreme precision.
All of our lasers use eye tracking technology to ensure meticulous positioning, even if your eye moves during your procedure.
Before scheduling your evaluation, ask yourself if you have the characteristics of a good candidate:
- 18+ years or older
- Ready to stop wearing glasses or contact lenses
- No prescription change in glasses or contact lenses in last 1-2 years
- Have reasonable expectations for the procedure and understand the benefits and risks
- Not pregnant or nursing
- No corneal diseases or collagen vascular diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
- No significant problems with wound healing
The procedure usually takes approximately one minute per eye. In most cases, you will be in the operating suite with the doctor for 15-20 minutes. A nurse will prepare you before surgery and check on you after surgery as well. Depending on the surgery schedule on the day of your procedure, you may anticipate being in the outpatient surgery center between two to four hours.
Because this is outpatient surgery, you can go home the same day, but we advise you to spend the remainder of the day resting.
This is best discussed with your eye doctor. Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend that your second eye be done anywhere from one to several weeks after your first eye.
To ensure a comfortable, pain-free experience, we provide you with oral and topical medication before your procedure. After surgery, most patients feel no discomfort, though your eyes may temporarily feel watery, scratchy or gritty. You will be given eye drops to relieve these symptoms.
Most patients experience improved vision immediately after surgery and your eyesight should improve with each passing day.
Each patient is different, but the majority resume normal activities the day after surgery. Your doctor will discuss this with you during your consultation.
While laser vision correction is permanent, it does not prevent presbyopia or cataracts, conditions that occur naturally with age. Age-related visual issues require treatment, even in patients who have had refractive surgery.
Our vision correction specialists are here to answer any questions you have about the risks, side effects and advantages of refractive surgery. Visit FDA.gov for more information about risks associated with refractive surgery.
Most insurance companies do not cover vision correction procedures, because they are considered elective surgery. Please check with your insurance company before scheduling your procedure. If you have vision insurance, ask if you are eligible for any discounts.