Frequently Asked Questions About Refractive Surgery

  • Can I have both eyes treated at the same time?
    Yes. Many patients prefer to minimize the time off work and reduce the amount of healing time they experience after surgery, so they have both eyes done during the same visit.
  • Can I drive myself home after surgery?
    No. Your vision may be blurry in the first few hours after the procedure. In addition, you will be given a mild oral sedative prior to surgery and, thus, will need someone to drive you home. Many people are able to drive the next day.
  • Will I have to limit my activities after surgery?
    You will be told to avoid strenuous activity or visually demanding tasks for at least 1-2 days after LASIK and 3 days after LASEK/PRK. Make sure to ask about specific activities that are important to you.
  • Can I play sports right after the procedure?
    No. Certain strenuous activities, contact sports and swimming should be postponed for several weeks.
  • How soon can I use eye make-up?
    It is recommended that you avoid using eye make-up for the first week after surgery to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Can I get water in my eyes?
    No. You should avoid getting water in your eyes for about one week after surgery, so be careful when washing your face and hair.
  • What are enhancements (touch-ups)?
    Your vision after surgery either will be perfect, or under- or over- corrected. This can be fixed with a minor procedure called an enhancement or touch-up. This procedure typically is performed approximately three months after the initial surgery if visual improvement has not been attained. These enhancements are only necessary in about 10 percent of all cases.
  • Is refractive surgery covered by insurance?
    Refractive surgery is considered an elective procedure and, therefore, usually is not covered by insurance companies. Some plans will cover a portion of the screening examination. However, to be sure, check with your insurance company at the time of your evaluation.
  • What are the most common complications?
    The most common is either over-correction or under-correction, both of which can be treated. Individual variation is part of any refractive surgical procedure. While everyone hopes for perfect vision, perfection is not always the result. Your expectation should be reduced dependence on glasses and contact lenses, realizing that they may still be needed for some activities. Dry eyes are also common in the early post-operative period. What about severe complications?Sight-threatening complications are very rare. There is always a small risk of infection, scarring, abnormal healing patterns, or cell growth underneath the corneal flap. This may cause partial loss of vision and require further medical or surgical treatment.
  • Will my vision be stable?
    Although vision may fluctuate slightly during the first few days and also shift slowly for 6 to 12 months, most of the healing is complete within 3 to 6 months. With nearly a decade of experience with PRK, we know that the procedure is stable, with no evidence of late-onset complications. LASIK has been available for about five years and, from the data collected over this period, also appears stable.
  • Is it possible that my vision could be worse than before? Could my vision gradually decline?
    There is a very slight chance that your vision could be worse. Results thus far, however, have shown excellent stability after PRK and LASIK.
  • Will I be able to wear contact lenses if I still need them after PRK or LASIK?
    Yes. In most cases, PRK and LASIK do not interfere with the use of soft contact lenses. Rigid contact lenses can sometimes be used but the fit may be more difficult. Some patients cannot wear rigid contact lenses after refractive surgery.
  • How is PRK or LASIK likely to affect my need to use glasses or contacts when I get older?
    By middle age, all people need help reading. If your nearsightedness is permanently eliminated by PRK or LASIK, you may need to start using reading glasses in your forties.
  • Will I need to use eye drops?
    Depending on your specific procedure, eye drops may be needed for anywhere from three days to six months, but not permanently.
  • What kind of financial arrangements can I make?
    You can pay your bill with cash, check, credit card, or through payroll deduction if you are a U-M employee. There is a discount for U-M employees. Other options include setting up a flexible spending account or obtaining financing through our partner, the University of Michigan Credit Union.