Basic LASIK in 3 Minutes

1. There are many different variations of LASIK. Know which one you are getting.

Before you make an appointment to have your eyes evaluated for laser vision correction, it is important to understand that there are several variations of the procedure that the general public refers to as "LASIK". These variations influence the speed and comfort of your recovery, the final clarity of your vision, your safety profile and how much you pay for your procedure. Therefore, smart shoppers should learn their options before visiting a surgeon or center.

Put another way, just like it would not make any sense to call all of the car dealers in your city and ask them how much they charge for a car, without knowing the make and model of the vehicle, likewise, it makes no sense to shop for LASIK without knowing exactly what variation of the procedure you're getting.

Fortunately, it's relatively easy to clarify your corrective eye surgery options.

2. These key questions will define your vision correction procedure

  • Will the treatment coming out of the laser be based on my eyeglass prescription (conventional treatment) or will it be based on a wavefront map (custom treatment)?
  • Prior to the actual laser treatment, will my surgeon lift a corneal flap?
  • If my surgeon lifts a corneal flap, what instrument will be used? Will the flap be made by a microkeratome (LASIK procedure) or will the flap be made by a femtosecond laser such as the Intralase (all laser LASIK or Intralasik)?

Let's look at these issues in more detail.

3. Conventional versus custom wavefront laser treatment

With a conventional treatment, the surgeon programs the laser with your eyeglass prescription, as measured by the familiar "Which is better one or two?" test. With a custom treatment, the laser is programmed with your wavefront data - a highly detailed map of the distortion in your vision that is obtained by measuring your eye with a laser scanning device known as a wavefront analyzer.

Since your wavefront map is unique to your eye, just like a fingerprint, when the laser is programmed with this data, the treatment that comes out of the laser is unique to you, and that is why the treatment is called custom.

There are two main reasons why you need to know if your treatment is conventional or custom. One, patients who have a custom treatment typically end up with slightly sharper vision and better night vision. Two, custom treatments often cost $300-$400 more per eye than conventional treatments.

4. Flap versus flapless surgical technique

There are two ways in which a laser treatment can be delivered. With the flapless technique, the treatment is placed directly on the surface of the eye. With the flap technique, the surgeon first lifts a few of the surface layers off of the cornea (i.e. creates a flap) and then places the laser treatment on the exposed surface. Afterwards, the treated area is covered by the flap.

The distinction between flap and no flap surgical technique determines how quickly your vision will recover, how soon you can resume normal activities, and it influences the overall safety profile of your procedure.

The flap techniques (LASIK and Intralasik) are extremely popular because they offer a rapid and comfortable recovery. Most flap patients see clearly and return to work the day after surgery. However, there is always a small chance of a flap complication. Therefore, some patients elect to undergo a flapless procedure (PRK), though it takes much longer to heal. Most flapless patients don't go back to work for about five days, and full clarity of vision gradually appears over a period of weeks.

With respect to cost, there is usually not a large difference between a flap and flapless procedures, though flapless procedures sometimes cost a little bit less.

5. Microkeratome vs. femtosecond laser flap

If you choose to have a flap procedure, then there is one more question that has to be answered, as there are two different types of flap making instruments- the microkeratome and the femtosecond laser. When a flap is made with a microkeratome, most surgeons refer to the procedure as LASIK. When the flap is made with a femtosecond laser, most surgeons refer to the procedure all laser LASIK or Intralasik. The Intralasik name comes from the fact that the most commonly used femtosecond laser is made by the Intralase company.

The proponents of all laser LASIK often claim that the laser flap making technique is safer than the microkeratome technique. However, this is a topic that is hotly debated by eye surgeons and consensus is lacking. Nonetheless, having a laser made flap generally adds about $200-$400 per eye to the procedure cost, so a savvy shopper will pay close attention to the flap making instrument.

6. Shop with confidence (and find a great deal)!

Once the three questions above are answered, you can define virtually any laser vision correction procedure available anywhere in the world today. If you're the type that likes more detailed information, then we invite you visit our LASIK, IntraLASIK, PRK and Custom Wavefront Technology pages.

Now that you are armed with this essential information, you can approach corrective eye surgery with confidence, and we invite you to call 1-866-243-4506 to instantly save 40-50% on LASIK at over 600 practices nationwide, so that your dream of vision correction can finally become a reality.

Save 40-50% on LASIK instantly. Call 1-866-243-4506 now!