What is LASIK eye surgery?

Lasik, which stands for laser in situ kertomileusis, is a common outpatient surgical procedure in which an eye doctor employs a laser to reshape the cornea to help correct nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration first approved lasers for Lasik surgery in 1998. Today about 600,000 Lasik surgeries are performed annually nationwide. Studies of patients following surgery reveal the vast majority are satisfied with the procedure, but the FDA reports there are some risks associated with Lasik surgery.  

The price for Lasik eye surgery ranges from $1,000 to $4,000 per eye depending on several factors. According to Healthcare Blue Book, a free online guide that lists fair prices for healthcare services, the nationwide average for a simple Lasik procedure is about $2,000 per eye. The fair price is what a health service provider typically accepts from insurance companies as full payment, which tends to be substantially less than the billed amount.

Are you a good candidate for LASIK eye surgery?

Although only your optometrist or ophthalmologist can tell you if you are a good candidate for Lasik eye surgery, a few factors can disqualify you.

First, your eyes need to be healthy enough for surgery. If you have chronic dry eye, eye infections or thin cornea, you may be a poor candidate for the procedure, according to the FDA. Second, surgeons will only perform the procedure on adults with stable vision. By law, doctors should wait when dealing with patients under 18 years of age.

You may not qualify if you have a degenerative or autoimmune disease, which includes HIV or AIDS, type 1 diabetes, lupus or celiac disease. These types of diseases often make it hard for your body to heal after a surgery, and they may also result in less successful surgery.

Prescription limits may also affect your options. Depending upon those limits, your eye doctor may suggest a different type of surgery to fix your eye problem.

Finally, if you are pregnant, recently pregnant or nursing, you should wait before pursuing laser eye surgery. The increase in hormones during and after pregnancy can affect vision. In addition, medications often used before and after surgery may present a risk to the baby. Finally, many women have dry eyes during pregnancy, which can temporarily disqualify them for surgery.

Many eye doctors perform Lasik surgery, and you'll find offices solely devoted to this procedure. Be sure to visit Angie's List to find member reviews and licensing information for the best Lasik surgeons in your area.

What results can you expect form LASIK?

This elective procedure often provides patients with 20/20 vision following surgery. Although some patients may still need to wear glasses or contacts following their surgery, their prescription might be lower than before. Still, patients commonly need to wear reading glasses after surgery.

Lasik can produce a handful of complications in patients, including dry eye or an increased risk of infection. A condition called night glare might also occur, which produces a halo around lights and which patients most often notice in the headlights of oncoming cars when driving at night.

In rare cases, patients may experience regression, which produces success at first but over time causes the patient's eyesight to worsen. Some patients may lose some vision or experience blindness. If you experience worsening eyesight, tell your eye doctor right away; you might need more surgery.

Recovery time can vary, depending on several factors including whether you had both eyes corrected at one time. Immediately after surgery, you will need rest before leaving the doctor's office. When you go home, your doctor may recommend you rest for several hours. You will also need to take it easy for several days after the surgery. However, if no complications occur, you may be able to return to work as quickly as the next day.

Most patients claim they do not experience pain following surgery, though many complain of mild eye irritation and discomfort.

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