Laser Eye Surgery


Laser Eye Surgery Overview

Anyone who's ever worn glasses has dreamed of waking up to a perfectly clear view of the world--no contacts, no glasses necessary--just crystal clear vision. That's the dream, and the advertisements for laser eye surgery would have us believe that we can make it a reality (for a not-so-small a fee). But how realistic is this dream? Is it possible for someone with blurry, poor vision to wake up to 20/20 eyesight?

The Trusty Guide to Laser Eye Surgery examines the sometimes confusing world of laser eye surgery. After reading this guide, you’ll have a better idea of your options, what’s right for you, the risks, finding a doctor, and more. Here's a brief summary of the guide:

Question Answer
What are my options?
  • Lasik is the most common and involves cutting a hinged flap on the outer rim of your eye and then using a laser to reshape your cornea.
  • Lasek is similar to Lasik, only it involves cutting a much thinner piece of the cornea. It's a good option for people with thin corneas or who for one reason or another can't undergo Lasik.
  • PRK involves a thin layer of the surface of the cornea being taken away and slowly healing in the correct shape. It's older than Lasik, and is often an option for patients with low to moderate vision problems.
  • LTK is a relatively new procedure used to treat farsightedness and astigmatism. The heat of a laser beam is used to shrink and reshape the cornea.
What are the risks?
  • According to the FDA, the complication rate is between 1 and 5 percent
  • Undertreatment in which the cornea is not reshaped enough is a risk.
  • Overtreatment in which the cornea is reshaped too much is also a possible outcome. (About 3% experience under or overtreatment).
  • Vision problems such as distortion, starbursts, double vision can also be created if the cornea does not heal correctly. (About 2.6% of patients experience visual distortion).
Is laser eye surgery right for me?
  • Are you at least 18 years old?
  • Have you worn glasses for at least two years?
  • Do you have some medical condition which would prevent normal healing?
How should I pick a doctor?
  • Be wary of slick advertising and too-good-to-be-true claims.
  • Get a referral. No one knows doctors like doctors. A great place to start your search is to ask your regular eye doctor or even general practitioner if he knows a good eye surgeon.
  • Ask questions.  How may surgeries has your doctor performed? How many in the last six months? We've got the full list of important questions in our guide.
Logistics for before and after surgery?
  • Arrange for transportation to and from the procedure.
  • Avoid all active sports for three days, contact sports for three weeks.
  • Don't use eye make-up or creams near the eye for two weeks.
What if something goes wrong?
  • See your doctor if any unusual or painful symptoms develop.
  • Your doctor will help you decide if another procedure is necessary.
  • If you're the victim of malpractice or negligence, seek legal redress.


Getting laser eye surgery isn't like getting a haircut, where, even if it's a disaster, it will grow out in a few weeks. It's your sight after all, and you want to make the most informed decision you can. Read on to learn more.

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