Patient Resources

Having Eye Surgery?

Preparing for an eye related surgery can be daunting, but we find that knowledge of what will happen in the operating room helps to ease the uncertainty. Here we offer different resources and learning tools for those considering or undergoing LASIK, cataract or other refractive surgeries. We encourage you to look through and fully understand the information below so that you can make educated choices when it comes to your vision.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the biggest risks of LASIK?

“Though usually rare, the primary concern of LASIK is loss of vision from either a severe infection or flap complication.  It is, however, important to note that most flap complications are fixable, though they can delay healing, prolong treatment, and bring about the need for more surgery, ” said Dotson.

Who should NOT have LASIK?

“Individuals who have corneal problems, significant cataracts or diabetic retinopathy are not good candidates.  Others who should not have LASIK include individuals whose expectations are out of line with what the procedure can deliver, and also those whose prescriptions are still changing.  Presently, because vision must be stable for 1 year, persons under the age of 18 should not have LASIK.  Though some are presently looking at certain situations where there may be merit to performing LASIK on a younger person, it would be unusual”, said Dr. McDonald.

How important is it to use a corneal surgeon?

James E. McDonald, II, M.D., Fayetteville, AR, who serves on the Board for the American College of Eye Surgeons, expressed his feeling that, “More important than choosing a corneal specialist, patients should instead seek out a refractive surgeon.  Often times, corneal specialists only handle corneal transplants, and may never perform a refractive procedure.  Refractive surgeons perform a wide array of procedures, including RK, AK, and Intacs, in addition to LASIK.  With the multitude of surgical options now available, refractive surgery has become a specialty of its own within ophthalmology.”

What question should you ask when choosing a doctor?

Brenda S. Sheets, Executive Director, offered these suggestions.  “Patients should always ask for a listing of their doctor’s credentials.  Are they Board certified, and if so, by which Boards?  How many LASIK procedures have they performed?  What are their outcomes (complication rates, etc.)?  What is their overall experience?  These questions should give the patient a general idea of the physician’s qualifications.  In addition, we always recommend that the patient ask the doctor for the names of 2-3 other LASIK patients with whom they may speak.  This is usually a very effective way of determining what may be expected through the entire treatment process.”

Regarding the number of cases the surgeon has performed, though every surgeon’s skill level is widely different, a minimum of 50 – 100 cases should be a good base line, though some suggest a minimum of 1000.  If a surgeon is not actively performing LASIK (should do at least 10 – 12 cases per month) they may be unable to keep their skills up.
In addition, in the opinion of Robert S. Dotson, M.D., Oak Ridge, TN, Board Member for the American Board of Eye Surgery, vision threatening complications for LASIK should be rare, and considerably less than 1%.
What is the biggest cause of poor LASIK results?

Dr. Dotson sites three primary causes for poor results.  “Surgeon inexperience, microkeratome malfunction (device used to make corneal flap), and laser calibration.  For example — what type of laser do they use, who performs equipment maintenance, and how do they ensure it is working properly?”

Can you get LASIK surgery if your eyes are really bad?

In Dr. Dotson’s opinion, “There are extremes of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, which are beyond what present techniques are able to correct.  For example, some individuals have corneas that are too thin to fully correct the amount of the patient’s refractive error.  Other patients may have early or significant cataracts that will require surgery in the near future.”