Does it hurt? And other questions about laser eye surgery answered

Is it time to exchange your glasses for laser eye surgery?
Is it time to exchange your glasses for laser eye surgery?

Recently, the Refractive Surgery Council invited Omaha bloggers to Kugler Vision for an informational presentation to learn about Laser Eye Corrective Surgery. As the first to arrive, I found it humorous that each us bloggers wore glasses, while the office staff we met didn’t. I assumed they had perfect vision from birth or underwent Laser Eye Surgery.

Disclosure: We were compensated for this post. However, all opinions are my own.

Long interested in learning about laser eye surgery for a while, I’ve wondered what it would be like to not have to wear glasses or contacts. As a travel blogger, who enjoys activities like kayaking, horseback riding and ziplining, I worry about losing my glasses. Even on a daily basis, they fog up, get dirty (just ask Tim how often I get him to clean my glasses) or just get in the way. Even when I bring contacts on trips, I tend to forget contact solution or my eyeglass case.

I prepared questions for the consultation that had intrigued me beforehand. As I listened to the presentation, Dr. Lance Kugler addressed them. It turns out that I wasn’t the only one who had these questions, and they are common ones.

It’s not just LASIK

Dr. Kugler
Dr. Lance Kugler discusses laser eye surgery.

The only type of surgery I had heard of prior to this session was LASIK, but, several types of laser vision correction surgeries actually exist. Just as each person has their own prescription, different types of surgeries are based on the amount of eye correction and age considerations. The two main types mentioned involved LASIK and SMILE.

As part of the presentation, we each completed a portion of the eye exam that would be required in order to find out what type of eye corrective surgery doctors would recommend. Each blogger’s vision would require different corrective needs. I’ve thought my eyesight was poor, but learned it’s actually average, as several of us in the room had similar levels of nearsightedness and astigmatism. The staff recommended LASIK for two out of three of us. The exam indicated I qualified for some type of laser vision corrective surgery, but needed a full consultation to determine exactly which one.

Is LASIK Eye Surgery Safe?

Medical advances continue to amaze me, including vision corrective surgery, which has been around for 20-25 years.

Any surgery includes risk. Following my visit to Kugler Vision, I asked our Facebook and Instagram followers if they’ve had the surgery or if they have thought about it. With eight responses on Facebook – and two more on Instagram – eight of the 10 replied they had no regrets about having the procedure. One person said her husband regretted having the surgery.

Contact Lens Safety

I learned that contacts actually threaten eye health. According to Web MD, people who wear contact lenses stand an increased chance of getting keratitis, an infection of the cornea, which is usually caused by bacteria or a virus in the eye. For those who don’t clean their lenses well, or get dirt in their eyes, this can contribute to an infection.

This gave me pause for concern, as my contacts are the monthly type.  I’ll be honest that once I break out a new pair of contacts, I haven’t always been the best at keeping track of how long I’ve worn them. The longer you wear them past 30 days, the higher the risk of blurry vision, and possible infection. Eye health is not something to take lightly.

Perhaps, sometime soon, laser eye correction will become more routine. Most people undergo corrective eye surgery for professional reasons, such as athletes who see the decision as helping advance their careers. Tiger Woods is likely the most famous sports figure to complete the procedure.

Do I qualify for laser eye correction surgery?

Eye exam and consultation
Lisa’s eye exam.

In order to undergo the procedure, you must be at least 18 years old, because eyes continue to develop through early adulthood. The average age for eye correction surgery is 38. This surprised me, as I originally thought it would be people in their 20s. It shouldn’t have, though, since my stepdaughters each had eye corrective surgery within the last five years, while in their early 30s.

Consultation determines the type of corrective surgery

Eye health must be considered for laser eye surgery. In addition to learning your prescription, doctors check your overall eye health, for issues such as cataracts.

Common side effects include glare and dry eye, but they typically fade after a few months. My stepdaughters said dry eye was an issue for them, but eye drops helped.

Does Laser Eye Surgery hurt?

Surgical Suite at Kugler Vision
A look at the surgical suite.

Following the presentation, we toured the surgical suite, which was quiet and appeared comfortable. While awake during the procedure, the staff handles any patient anxiety through medication. The procedure takes about 20 minutes, and you’re in the office for about 90 minutes. From testimonials, people indicated they don’t feel any pain during the procedure, only a slight discomfort if anything.

Is Laser Corrective Surgery/LASIK Cost Affordable?

If I add up all of the prescription glasses, contact lenses, lens cases and solution, for each year of wear, the amount easily reach thousands of dollars.  Depending on when you have it done, laser vision correction surgery proves more cost-efficient than glasses or contacts.  Considered elective surgery, insurance doesn’t cover the procedure. However, did you know that you can use your HSA dollars towards the cost of laser corrective eye surgery?

I scheduled a follow-up consultation to explore possible next steps at seeing what my life would look like without glasses or contacts.

If you’re interested in learning more about laser eye surgery, check out the RSC website for more information.