These days, countless people have their eyes on laser vision correction surgery, with around 700,000 procedures performed each year. Since its approval by the FDA in 1999, millions have had the surgery, many with great success, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
With so much competition, however, there’s also a worrying amount of advertising for “too good to be true” deals, so the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises you to do your homework.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the surgery.
- What Is Laser Vision Correction Surgery?
It’s the name for the set of outpatient eye procedures that uses a laser to reshape the cornea in order to create clearer vision.
The three major laser vision correction treatments available in the U.S. are PPK (photo refractive keratectomy), in which the outer layer of the cornea is first removed before laser treatment; LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) and SMILE (small incision lenticule extraction).
SMILE, the latest procedure, is the most minimally invasive of the procedures and results in a shorter recovery time, less recovery discomfort and reduced potential for dry eye.
So far, in South Carolina, SMILE, is only available at Griffin Eye Center in Myrtle Beach.
- How Long Does the SMILE Procedure Take?
It typically takes less than 10 minutes to perform surgery in each eye. Recovery time is about two days. Most who undergo the procedure on a Friday are back to work on Monday. A follow-up vision check is important, though.
- How Do I know If I’m a Candidate?
Patients, typically ages 18-48, should be in good general health and free of eye disease, infection or injury.
New developments in technology mean those who in the past have been excluded as candidates – such as people with thin corneas or astigmatisms – are eligible for the procedure and can expect good outcomes today. For those who’ve had cataract surgery, LASIK can be performed after surgery to reduce the need for glasses.
If a person’s vision needs vary depending on the situation, LASIK is an option for them, too. Some choose to have LASIK on one eye to correct distance vision, and then wear reading glasses for up-close clarity. Others choose to have LASIK on one eye to see well for distance and the other eye to see well close-up, which is called monovision. LASIK can be performed in these patients to minimize the need for glasses.
- Do I Need to Be Tested Prior to the Procedure?
A comprehensive eye exam is crucial. You’ll need to have your vision tested and be screened for eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts.
- How Do I Select a Doctor?
When considering surgery, finding the right ophthalmologist is of utmost importance. Make sure to find a corneal specialist, as the procedure is about reshaping the cornea.
- What Should I Look for in a Surgery Center?
Technology is key. A procedure is only as good as the equipment being used, so you want to make sure your doctor has the latest, state-of-the-art tools at their disposal to improve the chances of you emerging with 20/20 vision.
Also, think twice about those $299 procedures. Businesses with those promotions likely are not using the most advanced technology, and/or are providing services a la carte.
Even 10-year-old equipment is too old. It’s being used on your eyes, after all, and you only have one set – choose wisely.
- How Can I Determine If the Doctor’s Equipment Is Up-To-Date?
Call the office and ask. Make sure the clinic provides a blade-free procedure, which allows the surgeon to create, via computer, a customized flap that is uniform thickness to the natural curvature of your cornea. That leads to a better physical recovery and lessens the chance of infection.
At Griffin Eye Center, ophthalmic surgeon Dr. Neil Griffin uses the most advanced lasers for speed, accuracy and safety to complete LASIK procedures that produce the best outcomes.
LASIK Consultation screenings are free at Myrtle Beach and Murrells Inlet, S.C., locations. Appointments can be made at griffineyecenter.com/contact-griffin-eye-center or by calling toll-free 888-570-5789 or 843-449-6414.