Is LASIK surgery right for you?

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Tired of misplacing your glasses or frantically searching the floor after a contact lens pops out? It may be time to look into LASIK surgery, which can give you hassle-free vision. The benefits of LASIK surgery are many. You can improve your vision quickly and with little to no pain, as well as stop paying for a lifetime supply of glasses and/or contact lenses.

LASIK (laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis) is a refractive eye surgery to correct your vision. Surgeons use an excimer laser, which applies ultraviolet light to reshape the cornea.

When you’re shopping around for LASIK surgery, meet with the surgeon and ask how old the lasers are and what type of maintenance is being done to maintain them. Remember, surgery is being done on your eyes and you’ll want the most up-to-date and well-maintained equipment.

Who should have LASIK?

The key is to determine if LASIK is the right choice for you. You should get a thorough eye examination and medical history, which is then reviewed by the surgeon. The ideal candidate is someone who doesn’t have severely dry eyes, is active, has healthy eyes and is between the ages of 20-65. If you have cataracts, thin corneas, eye disease or trauma to the eye, this isn’t the surgery for you.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to meet with a qualified surgeon before committing to this surgery. Our surgeons meet with every potential patient to ensure the surgery is the right choice. I even give patients my cell phone number after their surgeries. Having surgery on your eyes is scary for some patients and it’s important for them to know that we’re always accessible.

How safe is LASIK?

The question I’m asked most often is “How safe is LASIK?” The answer is simple – with a qualified surgeon and the latest technology, it’s very safe.  But the surgery isn’t for everybody, and it’s critical that you visit an experienced surgeon who has a track record of successful surgeries and uses the latest technology. I’ve been doing refractive surgeries for 26 years and have consistently had excellent outcomes. There’s a reason for that – the ophthalmology surgeons at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Havener Eye Institute are highly skilled and use the most current surgical equipment and techniques. Our LASIK system can map the surface of your eye, allowing us to develop a unique vision correction plan that’s perfect for you.

What’s the cost?

LASIK usually costs around $2,000 per eye, and health insurance doesn’t cover the surgery. But keep in mind that you’re saving on a lifetime supply of glasses (typically $300-$600 every two years), contact lenses and supplies (varies widely but several hundred dollars per year) and doctor visits (usually around $150 per visit). Once you add this up, you come out financially ahead with LASIK. But more importantly, your vision is probably going to be better than it ever was with glasses or contact lenses.

What’s the surgery and recovery like?

Surgery is quick – about 15 minutes. Beforehand, you’ll get medicated eye drops to make you more comfortable and, if necessary, low-dose anti-anxiety medicine. During the surgery you may experience hazy vision or flashing lights, which is normal. The first few hours after surgery, you’ll be sensitive to light and have watery and scratchy eyes. By the next morning, your eyes should be clear enough for you to drive to your postoperative check. Remember that it takes time for your eyes to completely heal. For the next six weeks to three months, you may experience some halos and eye dryness and need to use artificial tears. Other side effects from the surgery can include undercorrection and overcorrection.

David Castellano, an ophthalmologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, was one of two surgeons to bring the first refractive surgery center to Columbus.