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Frequently Asked Questions About Laser Vision Correction

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What type of laser vision correction surgery is right for me?

Learn about the different types of laser vision correction surgery below.

Laser surgery

The latest treatments for refractive errors use a laser to precisely reshape the cornea. The UPMC Eye Center surgeons use an FDA-approved excimer laser, which uses cool ultraviolet light to reshape small amounts of corneal tissue.

LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusia) is used to treat a broad range of myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. The Eye Center physicians primarily use the IntraLase Method, which is a blade-free technique. Unlike traditional LASIK which uses a metal blade to create the corneal flap (the first step in a LASIK procedure), the IntraLase Method utilizes tiny, rapid pulses of laser light to create the corneal flap. After the flap is folded, the excimer laser vaporizes small amounts of the underlying layer of corneal tissue. After the tissue is reshaped, the flap is then returned to its original position.

PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) is used to correct mild to moderate myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism, the excimer laser reshapes the surface of the cornea and removes a portion of the central corneal thickness. The procedure typically lasts about 15 minutes and is an option for patients who cannot tolerate the creation of a flap of tissue in their cornea.

Non-laser surgery

Intacs (intrastromal corneal ring segments) treat mild degrees of nearsightedness. During the Intacs procedure, clear, crescent-shaped segments are inserted in the border of the cornea to flatten the center. The Intacs placement is the only laser vision correction procedure that has the potential to be reversed.

CK (conductive keraoplasty) is a non-laser procedure designed to treat presbyopia. It is intended for people over the age of 45 who have had good distance vision all of their lives and who are tired of wearing reading glasses for their close work. CK uses radio frequency energy to reshape the cornea.

How do I know if I’m a candidate for laser vision correction surgery?

We recommend that you come in for a free screening with our surgeons who are specialized in laser vision correction. Bring your glasses or prescription and we will determine which laser vision correction procedure will offer you the greatest benefit. Please call 412-647-2917 to schedule an appointment.

How long will the procedure take?

The actual laser treatment time is less than one minute per eye. The time in the surgery suite with the surgeon is approximately 20 to 30 minutes. You will be at the UPMC Eye Center for two to two and a half hours.

What kind of vision can I expect the day after surgery?

Many patients notice improved vision several hours or days after the procedure.

Does insurance cover refractive surgery?

Most insurance companies consider laser vision correction surgery an elective or aesthetic procedure; therefore, it is typically not covered. However, we encourage you to check with your insurance company for eligibility.

Do the results last?

Laser vision correction surgery is generally considered to be a permanent procedure. Laser vision correction surgery, however, will not prevent any age-related conditions, such as presbyopia or cataracts. Any pre-existing or future conditions would not be affected by a laser correction procedure.

Will I feel pain?

During the procedure, you will feel some pressure and your vision will momentarily dim while the flap is being created but you should not feel pain because anesthetic drops are used to numb the eyes. After the procedure, you may experience mild irritation, light sensitivity, and watery eyes for 12 to 24 hours.

Will I have to wear eye patches after the surgery?

Clear protective shields are worn on the eyes immediately after surgery. The surgeons will ask you to wear these shields until you come in for your follow-up appointment the day after surgery, and at bedtime for the first week.

Can you guarantee 20/20 (perfect) vision?

There is no guarantee for any surgical procedure. No one can promise 20/20 vision or that glasses or contacts will no longer be needed.

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