Before getting LASIK eye surgery, the first step is to have a consultation with your potential LASIK surgeon. Many laser eye surgery offices offer a free LASIK consultation. These consultations generally last 2 to 3 hours.
This comprehensive procedure will determine whether or not you are a good candidate for LASIK. It will also provide the surgeon with essential details about your eye health that they will use to perform your customized surgery.
Here’s what you can expect at a LASIK consultation:
- Medical history review
- Comprehensive eye exam
- Corneal mapping
- Discussion of the procedure
- Time for questions and concerns
We’ll go through each of these processes step-by-step, so that you can prepare for your consultation with your LASIK surgeon.
How to Prepare for Your LASIK Consultation
The best way to prepare for your consultation is to gather all of your relevant medical history. This includes:
- Any previous eye prescriptions from your eye doctor
- Any additional information from your eye doctor
- A medical history overview from your general doctor
While this step isn’t always necessary, it can give your surgeon valuable information that can help inform their decision. You should also refrain from wearing contact lenses for at least a day before your consultation.
Your eye and overall health history will determine whether or not you are a good candidate for LASIK or other vision correction options. Providing your surgeon with the most accurate information will ensure you have a safe procedure with the best outcome.
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1. Medical History Review
Once you arrive at your LASIK consultation, your doctor will review your medical history with you. Be sure to answer all questions honestly and as thoroughly as possible. There are several conditions that may disqualify you for LASIK.
If you have any of these, your surgeon can recommend other vision correction options. These may include other refractive surgeries, eyeglasses, or contact lenses, depending on your health.
Be sure to disclose any medications you are taking, have recently taken, or plan on taking. Certain medications can interfere with the success of the surgery or healing of your eyes. Your doctor will tell you whether to stop or continue taking your medications.
2. Comprehensive Eye Exam
The next step in your consultation will be a comprehensive eye exam. This will be the same as any other eye exam you’ve had in the past.
LASIK results are best when your eye prescription has “settled down.”
This means that your eye prescription hasn’t changed, or has changed very little (.25 to .5 diopters), in the last 1-2 years. Each eye surgeon will have their own criteria for whether or not your vision is stable enough.
During the eye exam, your doctor will check your vision and your overall eye health. They may perform some or all of the following tests:
- Vision test. This is a standard vision test that you’ve taken before. The doctor will use an eye chart to determine your prescription strength.
- Dominant eye test. A simple test will determine your dominant eye. This is especially important for anyone with presbyopia or if you’re considering monovision lasik.
- Eye dilation. Your doctor will use a drop or two of medication to dilate your eye. This helps them examine the interior of your eye. It also helps relax the focusing mechanism of your eye, which will provide the most accurate measurement of your refractive error.
- Eyelid inspection. Your doctor will examine your eyelids to check for any signs of blepharitis (inflamed eyelids).
- Tear film analysis. To check for any signs of dry eye, your doctor will test your tear film.
- Digital images. Your doctor may use multiple machines to take digital images and wavefront measurements to examine the front and surface of your eye.
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3. Corneal Mapping
Your doctor will perform a corneal topography to map the surface of your eye completely. This is part of the eye exam, but it will also provide the surgeon with the necessary information to program the laser during your procedure.
This is absolutely crucial because a laser will reshape the front of your cornea during the LASIK procedure. A detailed measurement of the shape and thickness of your cornea will confirm your eligibility for laser surgery.
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4. Discussion of the Procedure
Once your eye exam is complete, the surgeon will walk you through the rest of your LASIK journey.
They will discuss what you need to do to prepare for surgery, including when you should stop wearing contacts and taking medications. They will also discuss your surgery day, what you need to bring, and what to expect. You’ll also discuss aftercare and what to expect in the days and weeks following your procedure.
They should also talk about costs and payment options, and answer any questions you may have.
It's essential to understand the procedure and risks thoroughly. This way, you can manage your expectations and have a realistic idea of what to expect from your LASIK procedure.
5. Time for Questions and Concerns
Once your doctor finishes their breakdown of the procedure, they will ask if you have any questions. This is your chance to get clarification on any parts of the preparation, surgery, or aftercare that you might be confused about.
While LASIK can seem like an intimidating procedure, it is actually quite minimally invasive and has a very high success rate.
"The latest research reports 99 percent of patients achieve better than 20/40 vision and more than 90 percent achieve 20/20 or better. In addition, LASIK has an unprecedented 96 percent patient satisfaction rate – the highest of any elective procedure"
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