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What is LASIK Enhancement?
LASIK eye surgery, also known as laser in-situ keratomileusis, is a revolutionary corrective treatment for vision.
This minimally-invasive procedure relieves you from dependence on glasses and contact lenses. According to studies, there is a 95% overall satisfaction rate among LASIK patients.1
However, even after excellent LASIK post-op-care, there is a risk of your vision changing after the procedure. People also respond to laser vision correction differently.
While many people achieve 20/20 vision after just one procedure, others may need additional surgery to achieve the same outcome. This is where LASIK enhancement or LASIK touch-up comes in.
LASIK enhancement is an additional vision correction surgery that fixes refractive errors, degraded vision, or unsatisfactory outcomes. Unsatisfactory outcomes include under-correction, overcorrection (leading to eye strain), infections, or complications with the healing corneal flap.
LASIK vs. LASIK Enhancement
There is no significant difference between LASIK and LASIK enhancement. An enhancement is a follow-up procedure that improves visual outcomes after the first procedure.
The main difference is that LASIK enhancement doesn’t require a corneal flap to be created. Instead, your eye doctor will simply lift the existing flap using special tools.
Because an enhancement requires minimal adjustments, treatment takes less time than the original procedure.
For example, while primary LASIK takes about 30 minutes, an enhancement usually takes just a few minutes, if not seconds.
The recovery process is also similar. You need to follow strict post-op care rules for quick recovery after both LASIK procedures. These include:
- Avoiding eye-water contact in pools, tubs, rivers, or oceans
- Stopping use of eye makeup such as mascara and eyeliner
- Avoiding rubbing your eyes
- Staying away from intense activities, such as contact sports
- Protecting your eyes with appropriate sunglasses or eye shields
- Getting enough eye rest during recovery
- Attending follow-up sessions
- Taking medications as prescribed
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When is LASIK Enhancement Necessary?
LASIK enhancement requires patients to meet specific qualifications. Generally, healthy eyes are eligible for an enhancement 3 months or more after the first LASIK procedure.
Here’s what might qualify for LASIK enhancement:
1. Persistent Poor Vision After LASIK
After the surgery, expect your vision to improve with time.
If you experience blurry vision after 3 months of LASIK post-op care, you might need an enhancement.
During the visit, your eye doctor will evaluate your cornea to determine the cause of your persistent visual problem and recommend next steps.
2. Unmet Expectations
Everyone wants to achieve a certain visual quality after LASIK. To avoid unnecessary surprises, it’s essential to talk to your doctor about what you expect from surgery.
Your eye surgeon will also let you know the likely outcome of your surgery.3
With this information, you can compare the visual outcomes after the healing process is complete.
LASIK enhancement might be necessary if the outcome doesn’t match your treatment expectations.
3. Corneal Flap Problems
During LASIK surgery, your surgeon will lift the flap that was created during the original LASIK surgery and fold it back to allow for laser treatment. They will then place the flap into position and allow it to heal.
Any issues with the corneal flap can affect your vision quality. LASIK enhancement can correct this healing complication for qualifying candidates.
Although LASIK enhancements are rarely necessary, understanding the procedure is essential before following through with laser eye surgery.
Who is a Good Candidate for LASIK Enhancement?
To determine if you’re a good candidate for an enhancement, your eye surgeon will evaluate the timeline of your initial surgery and recovery.
Most people are eligible for LASIK enhancement 3 months after the initial surgery. This timeline varies depending on what issue(s) need to be fixed.4
Your eye doctor will also perform a pachymetry test to check if your cornea thickness will allow for a second surgery.5 Usually, a good candidate will have a corneal thickness of at least 450 to 550 microns.
You’re not a good candidate for LASIK enhancement if you:
- Are pregnant
- Take certain medications that can affect healing
- Have diseases such as HIV or diabetes that can affect healing
- Had an initial refractive surgery that resulted in complications
- Play a contact sport that increases your chances of injury
Typically, just one LASIK enhancement is required to restore vision to an acceptable level. In some cases, however, more than one enhancement is necessary.
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LASIK Enhancement Procedure: What to Expect
LASIK enhancement is not any different from your first surgery. You can expect the following before, during, and after an enhancement:
After an evaluation to determine your eligibility for an enhancement, your eye surgeon will set a date for the procedure.
If you’re using contact lenses to correct your vision, you’ll have to stop wearing them to give your cornea time to adjust to its original shape.
Your eye doctor will also educate you on the expectations of the procedure.
Be sure to inform your surgeon about any concerns you have regarding the process.
On the day of the surgery, your surgeon will perform tests and take measurements of your cornea as you lie on a reclining chair.
They will then re-lift the corneal flap created during the initial surgery to start laser treatment.
Your surgeon will use an excimer laser, the same device used during the initial surgery.
Because enhancements require minimal adjustments, the procedure takes just a few minutes or less.
Just like with your initial surgery, your vision may remain blurrier immediately after surgery. But this will improve gradually.
Your surgeon will give you a detailed LASIK post-op care guide to help you manage the recovery process.2
Your doctor may also prescribe painkillers and lubricating eye drops to relieve any after-effects of LASIK. It’s essential to take these medications as prescribed.
You’ll need to visit your eye doctor 24 to 48 hours after LASIK enhancement surgery to check the healing process.
How Much Does LASIK Enhancement Cost?
Some providers do not charge an extra fee for an enhancement, especially if they performed the initial surgery.
Payment policies can vary significantly depending on your LASIK provider, the available pre- and post-operative care, and the LASIK technology used.
Before committing to surgery, ask about your doctor’s pricing policy and the pre- and post-operative services they offer.
Keeping Your Vision Sharp After LASIK
LASIK surgery can restore your crystal clear vision, but you’ll still need to take good care of your eyes.
The most effective way to keep your vision sharp after LASIK is to schedule regular eye exams. This will help your eye doctor monitor your eye health and catch any issues early.
Other tips for maintaining sharp vision include:
- Eating healthy foods. Eating green vegetables, such as kale and collard greens, as well as fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids is good for your eye health.
- Quitting smoking. Smoke irritates eyes and increases the risk of eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. So, if you smoke, it’s a good idea to quit.
- Not straining your eyes. Just because you see clearly doesn’t mean your eyes can’t strain. Looking at a computer screen for a long time is one potential cause of long-term issues.
- Wearing protective gear. When in vulnerable situations, such as bright sunlight, protect your eyes with appropriate sunglasses to prevent the effects of UV rays.
If you’ve had refractive surgery, and your vision is still not sharp enough, consult your eye doctor to determine if LASIK enhancement will work for you.
Other Ways to Correct Vision After LASIK
As you’ve learned, LASIK enhancement is not ideal for everyone. Luckily, there are other effective visual corrective procedures available:
- Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). Instead of creating a corneal flap, PRK involves the removal of the epithelium (outer layer).6 This effectively exposes the cornea for laser treatment and eliminates the need for a thick cornea.
- Refractive lens exchange (RLE). This procedure involves implanting an artificial lens in the eyes to enhance vision.7 It eliminates the need for corrective lenses and glasses.
- Small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE). SMILE uses a femtosecond laser to adjust the shape of the cornea without creating a flap.
- Phakic intraocular lenses (IOLs). This involves implanting artificial lenses to enhance the function of the natural lens.
If you don’t qualify for LASIK enhancement, ask your doctor about the above alternatives.
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