Laser Vision Correction in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania - FAQs
At InSight℠ LASIK & Refractive Group, patient education is as much a part of our commitment to excellence as delivering the highest-quality of vision care. Most individuals have questions about laser vision correction procedures offered at our surgery center near Pittsburgh in Western Pennsylvania, and we have tried to answer some of those questions.
What is laser vision correction?
Laser vision correction is an advanced form of eye surgery in which the ablating energy of an excimer laser is used to alter the shape of a patient's cornea, thereby correcting refractive error. Currently, the most popular form of laser vision correction is LASIK surgery. However, PRK, the forerunner of LASIK, can be used as an alternative method of laser vision correction for many individuals who are not ideal candidates for the LASIK procedure.
Am I a good candidate for LASIK?
The best candidates for laser vision correction procedures are over 18 years of age, since the eye does not reach full development until approximately that age. They should also have adequate corneal thickness to reduce the risk of complications arising from the creation of the corneal flap, as well as a prescription that has been stable for at least a year.
Women who are pregnant or nursing or anticipate becoming pregnant should delay undergoing laser vision correction because hormonal changes that occur naturally during pregnancy can affect the results of the procedure.
It is important that LASIK candidates understand that, as with any surgery, there are risks associated with the procedure, and that no guarantees can be made. LASIK is usually quite successful in reducing an individual's dependence on corrective lenses although it may not necessarily eliminate the need altogether.
What is refractive error?
In a perfectly shaped eye, light is refracted (or bent) as it passes through the cornea and crystalline lens and arrives at a focal point on the retina, creating a crisp, precise image. However, when light passes through an abnormally shaped eye, improper refraction may result, producing blurred or otherwise inaccurate vision. Lower-order refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism can be addressed with laser vision correction. Custom wavefront LASIK allows Dr. Zimmer to correct the more difficult higher-order aberrations that often cause starburst patterns, halos, and persistent glare.
What is nearsightedness?
Nearsightedness (also referred to as myopia) is a refractive error that is caused by an elongated eye. The eye is slightly longer than average from front to back. This irregular shape causes light to be focused at a point before the retina, where all images are produced, thereby resulting in blurred distance vision while near objects retain their clarity. Nearsightedness is a lower-order aberration that can be improved with laser vision correction at our surgery center in Western Pennsylvania.
What is farsightedness?
Farsightedness (or hyperopia) is the opposite of nearsightedness. It is a refractive error caused by an eye that is shorter than normal from front to back. Light is focused at a point behind the retina causing near objects to appear blurred while distance vision remains clear. Laser vision correction, at our surgery center near Pittsburgh, is an effective means of improving farsightedness.
What is astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a refractive error that occurs when the cornea or the lens is irregularly curved. Instead of having a uniform curvature, some areas may be flatter or steeper than others. This distortion results in multiple focal points, which produce blurred vision at all distances. Astigmatism is generally present from birth, and the condition remains relatively constant over time. Like farsightedness and nearsightedness, astigmatism is treatable with laser vision correction. Limbal relaxing incisions have also proved effective in correcting this common refractive error.
What is presbyopia?
Presbyopia is an age-related condition that affects many people as they reach their 40s. Individuals with presbyopia experience a gradual decline in near vision. Symptoms include:
Difficulty focusing on near objects, such as the print in books or on the computer
Recurring eyestrain or headaches after periods of prolonged reading or detail work
Presbyopia occurs when the proteins within the eye's crystalline lens begin to change, causing the lens to harden. Prior to this, the lens is able to change shape to adjust for changing focus. When the lens begins to lose its flexibility, it can no longer adjust its shape to provide proper refraction for close objects, and near vision becomes blurred.
Because presbyopia is not caused by irregularities in the shape of the eye, refractive lens exchange (RLE) is the most effective treatment for the condition, aside from corrective lenses. Laser vision correction, which involves reshaping the structure of the eye, is not yet able to improve this condition, though it may become a useful method in the future.
How long does the LASIK procedure take?
LASIK is an outpatient procedure performed in our state-of-the-art, fully accredited, ambulatory surgery center. Though the actual surgery is completed in a matter of seconds, depending on the degree of correction required, the entire procedure may take several minutes. In addition, there is a certain amount of preparation that goes into every LASIK procedure.
Is laser vision correction painful?
Both PRK and LASIK are painless. The surgeon uses anesthetic drops to numb the eyes before surgery. After surgery, some patients may experience varying degrees of discomfort, particularly with PRK, but eyedrops and/or oral medications can alleviate much of this discomfort.
What will my recovery be like?
Many patients notice immediate results following their LASIK procedure and are able to resume their normal daily activities. However, protective eyewear is recommended for certain activities. PRK and other types of laser vision correction require more time before patients notice any appreciable improvement in their vision. Some may also experience slight discomfort during the healing process, typically lasting from three to five days.
What are the risks of laser vision correction?
Some complications of laser vision correction include:
Impaired night vision
Loss of best-corrected vision
Under or over response
Though such complications are possible, studies have shown that the actual risk of these complications occurring is minimal.
Learn More about Laser Vision Correction
If you have additional questions about the methods of laser vision correction performed at our Pittsburgh-area surgery center in Western Pennsylvania, please don't hesitate to contact InSight℠ LASIK & Refractive Group.