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FAQS

FAQs

Do you have eye health or vision questions?

Below are the most frequently asked questions about vision care conditions and laser eye surgery.

Comprehensive Eye Exam FAQ

Eye exams are a critical part of overall eye health. An exam is in order anytime you’re experiencing blurry vision, headaches, floating spots, or difficulty with reading or seeing objects. The effects of eye problems such as cataracts or glaucoma may come on gradually, and these conditions may seriously impair your vision. An eye exam allows your ophthalmologist to catch vision conditions early on.

Most adults should have an eye exam at least every 24 months. We recommend people 60 and older have exams more frequently – around once per year. Those experiencing eye problems should schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

There’s no reason to feel anxious about an eye exam. A standard exam is a painless procedure. During your exam, we will go over your medical history as it relates to your eyes, test your vision (near, far and peripheral) and check the overall health of your eyes by looking for signs of glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration. After all your tests results are available, your ophthalmologist will review them with you and he/she will determine if you need prescription glasses or any other treatment procedure such as laser or cataracts surgery.

Your eye examination will be carried out by one of our ophthalmologists and usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes. Sometimes it can take longer if you need extra tests, but this is to make sure you can see as well as possible. As well as testing your sight, the ophthalmologist will check the health of your eyes and look for any other underlying medical problems.

Typically, we dilate pupils by default unless you request otherwise. Pupil dilation is a more thorough way to examine the retina inside the eye. With your pupils fully enlarged, the doctor will use tools and lights to check the insides of your eyes. The eye drops for this part of the exam take about 20-30 minutes to work. During that time, your pupils will be larger than normal, and you will be extra sensitive to light and vision will be blurred. Most people can drive afterward, but feel free to bring a driver if you prefer. Since you will be more sensitive to light, we suggest bringing a pair of sunglasses for the ride home.

If your ophthalmologist finds any problems with your eyesight, we will refer you to one of our expert optometrists. He or she will review your condition and recommend the right prescription for you. At our Atlantic Eye Optical facility, we will help you select top-quality frames and lenses to provide you with the sharpest, most comfortable vision possible. We also work closely with your eye doctor to ensure that you receive the very best optics.

Cataract Surgery FAQ

A cataract is a painless, gradual clouding of the natural crystalline lens inside the eye, located directly behind the colored iris. Our natural lens is normally transparent. Its job is to focus light on the retina at the back of the eye to help make a sharp picture of what we see. As we get older, chemical changes occur causing the lens to become cloudy, forming what we call cataracts.

No, each eye is operated on separately, usually about 1-4 weeks apart.

No, you are awake the entire time. You will be given some medication to relax you during the surgery. In some cases, eye drops are the only anesthesia needed.

Most patients feel mild to moderate irritation for the first few days after surgery, “like an eyelash or a grain of sand” in the eye. This feeling should get better with each passing day. Artificial tears may be used as often as necessary to reduce irritation. Any preoperative glaucoma and dry eye medication should be restarted the day following surgery. It is important to remember that no two eyes are exactly the same, even if they are both your eyes! One eye may be more blurred, look redder, and feel scratchier than the other after surgery. This is normal, as one eye may take a bit longer to heal than the other.

Eye surgery is like surgery on any other body part, there will be a period of recovery. Fortunately for cataract surgery, this time is minimal. Your vision will be blurry right after surgery. No two patients are the same, but most patients notice an improvement in their vision within the first few days after surgery. The eye typically takes a month to heal completely, but the majority of healing takes place within the first week. In most cases the eye will be blurry for reading and near work. You will probably need help to see up-close, and it is fine to use your old glasses for reading until the eye is stable enough for a custom prescription. Right after surgery, the first eye may seem blurrier, or better, than the second eye. This is normal, and the distance vision will usually improve with time.

Yes, your prescription will change following cataract surgery. In most cases, you will still require at least a reading prescription to do near work. If you still require a distance prescription after surgery, it will be a few weeks until the eye is stable enough to obtain this prescription. Your optometrist will provide this prescription for you. Wearing your old glasses in-between the first and second eye will not hurt either eye, however some patients find it more comfortable to go without their glasses even before the second surgery is completed.

LASIK Surgery FAQ

Candidates for laser eye surgery must have had a stable eyeglass prescription for at least a year. If you have an unstable eyeglass prescription then you are not a good candidate for laser vision correction. Additionally, those who have certain medical conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes and women who are pregnant or nursing will not be good candidates. During your visit be sure to have a list of questions to ask your surgeon about the procedure.

LASIK is the most popular form of laser vision correction today. The LASIK surgery procedure is designed to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contacts. An excimer laser gently reshapes the cornea with computer-controlled precision to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

Generally speaking, patients experience no pain during the LASIK procedure and minimal discomfort afterwards. Anesthetic drops are used to fully numb the eye before LASIK eye surgery begins; during the laser correction you may feel a light pressure sensation around your eye. Post-operatively, patients may experience red, scratchy eyes. This feeling generally fades within 24 hours. Your eyes may feel more dry than usual for the first week to a month after the procedure; however, all patients are evaluated for dry eyes pre-operatively.

As with any surgical procedure, LASIK does have certain risks, and patients should be fully aware of possible complications before deciding to have laser vision correction. The incidence of these complications, however, is low and most are medically manageable.

The most common complications following LASIK are associated with either the laser reshaping of the corneal tissue or with the flap. Over-correction, under-correction, or loss of best-corrected vision are possible complications from laser reshaping, as are night vision problems such as glare and halos. These complications occur in only a small percentage of patients, are usually medically manageable, and can be greatly minimized by the use of nomograms and Custom LASIK wavefront mapping.

Infrequent complications associated with the flap include a thin, short, displaced or wrinkled flap. To significantly reduce these risks, we recommend an ALL-Laser procedure, utilizing the latest technology with the FS (FemtoSecond) laser to create the flap. This revolutionary new laser is now the preferred first step in laser vision correction. In addition, we educate patients as to the importance of post-operative care.

Understanding the risks associated with LASIK is an important part of a patient’s research when deciding on laser vision correction. We would be happy to discuss both the risks and benefits of LASIK eye surgery with you in further detail.

There are some minimal restrictions in the first weeks following laser surgery, but many LASIK patients are able to resume normal activities the following day! Vision-corrective results from LASIK surgery are typically very rapid, and many patients are able to see clearly 24-48 hours after surgery. Further vision improvement may continue over several months. Your doctor will recommend avoiding certain activities, like swimming or contact sports, for several weeks.

The distance vision correction is fairly permanent following laser vision correction. However, as with the course of nature, there are some age-related changes that will occur regardless of whether or not you had LASIK surgery.

PRK Surgery FAQ

PRK uses laser technology to reshape the cornea and enhance vision. It differs from LASIK in that the outer surface of the cornea is completely removed in order to treat the center layer. We use wavefront technology to customize the procedure based on the unique contours of your cornea. Although PRK recovery takes longer than LASIK recovery, the procedure carries no risk of flap complications.

LASIK involves cutting of a corneal flap. Surface procedures (PRK/Epi-LASIK, LASEK) are not called LASIK, as they involve no cutting of the cornea with either a scalpel blade or a laser.  In 2011 a study was published showing that the LASIK flap never fully heals; therefore, people who have had LASIK have to be concerned forever that a blow to the eye might cause dislocation of the flap.  If this happens and it is not fixed in the first hour, the patient is likely to require a corneal transplant to restore good vision.

Pain during the post-op period is extremely rare. Patients’ eyes will be numbed with incredibly potent anesthetic drops. The anesthetic drops give the eye about 20 to 30 minutes of numbness, during which time any one of a number of ocular surgical procedures can be accomplished. If a patient experiences any pain they are instructed to call the office and report their condition. In those rare cases, our surgeons will request that the patient come to the office immediately to determine the cause and provide the necessary treatment.

Your eyes start healing right after the first hour of waking up after surgery. The regenerating cells usually reach the center in 3-5 days. During those days you may experience intermittent burning and tearing and the feeling that there is something in your eye. Complete healing of these cells takes about 6 months, but as soon as the surface is sealed your “bandage” contact lenses are removed.

Yes, essentially all of LASIK’s complications are flap-related. In Surface treatment, there is no flap cut, and therefore less potential for complications.

Everyone reacts differently to surgery, but in most cases, patients can resume normal activities after 2 hours. Usually you can drive the next day if your vision seems reasonably safe for driving when you look outside. Most of our patients can return to work the next day, especially if you work in a clean environment without dust or bacterial contaminants. Eye makeup should be avoided for about one week to help prevent eye infections from contamination. Exercise can be resumed the same day as your procedure, as long as you take precautions against sweat getting into your eyes. When showering, you should have the water come from behind, instead of directly into your face. Most importantly, swimming with your face in the water should be avoided for at least a week.

Eye Plastic Surgery FAQ

In simple terms, a blepharoplasty is an operation that removes excess tissue from the eyelids. Usually with the upper eyelids, surgery involves removal of excess skin with contouring of the eyelid crease. The lower eyelids often require the removal of puffy bags. It can be done for functional or cosmetic reasons.

What is the difference between blepharoplasty and cosmetic plastic surgery? A functional blepharoplasty corrects overhanging eyelid tissue that is interfering with vision. Lower eyelid surgery for removal of “bags” is always considered cosmetic. Cosmetic blepharoplasty is performed for an improved appearance.

An upper blepharoplasty is for patients who have loose skin or bulges of fat in the upper lid. Some patients may complain about their eyelids feeling heavy at the end of the day. Rarely, there is obstruction of the upper visual fields.

Your surgeon will give you pain pills, but most patients do not need to take any after a blepharoplasty; fortunately, it is not a very painful procedure. Cold compresses for the first several days not only reduce swelling and bruising, but really nip eyelid pain in the bud.

Bruising and swelling after eyelid surgery generally subside enough within 7-10 days for most patients to comfortably return to work and resume normal social activities. However, swelling will still be present for a couple of months. We typically let patients return to their workouts in 3 weeks. If you have a particularly rigorous workout, we might even recommend waiting longer to resume your routine.

Eyeglasses can be worn right after a blepharoplasty, and in fact it is very common for patients to return for their visit the day after surgery wearing sunglasses as a means to mask any swelling they may have. This is not the case for the use of contact lenses. You should wait about a week before wearing contact lenses after a blepharoplasty.

Retinal Detachment Surgery FAQ

Retinal detachment is a serious condition that can lead to severe visual impairment or even total blindness in the affected eye. If any part of the retina is lifted or pulled from its normal position, it is considered detached, and will cause some vision loss. Retinal detachment is consider a medical emergency, call us if you suffer sudden vision changes.

Symptoms include a sudden or gradual increase in either the number of floaters, which are little “cobwebs” or specks that float about in your field of vision, and/or light flashes in the eye. Another symptom is the appearance of a curtain over the field of vision. Anyone experiencing the symptoms of a retinal detachment should see an eye care professional immediately.

If there is no accompanying tear in the retina, no treatment is needed for a posterior vitreous detachment. However, if the retina is torn, the damage is typically repaired with a laser or freezing treatment.

Retinal detachment surgery is an operation to repair a detached retina. Common methods to repair retinal detachment include pneumatic retinopexy, scleral buckling surgery and vitrectomy.

Potential risks from retinal surgery include bleeding, elevated intraocular pressure, infection, and detachment that isn’t completely fixed. With modern therapy, over 90 percent of those with a retinal detachment can be successfully treated, although sometimes a second treatment is needed. However, the visual outcome is not always predictable. The final visual result may not be known for up to several months following surgery.

Following a brief recovery period in the hospital, patients can generally expect to spend one to two weeks recovering at home after retinal surgery. During the first week after retinal surgery, patients should rest and avoid excessive movement. Patients should avoid activities that require close vision, such as watching television or reading, during this time.