LASIK Chat Transcript

MODERATOR: Welcome to the LASIK Vision Correction Chat. Please remember advice is for general information only. Please contact your physician prior to any medical procedure. Remember to stand by to see who wins the Free LASIK procedure.

MODERATOR: Welcome again to all. Dr. Swan, please tell us a little about yourself.

Dr. Swan: I have been a refractive surgeon for 12 years, practicing in Montgomery for the last 10 as part of Montgomery Eye Physicians, Montgomery's oldest ophthalmology practice. I have performed laser vision correction for the last 5 years, since the FDA approval of the excimer laser. The Montgomery Eye Laser Center was established in 1999, offering a convenient, dedicated environment for laser vision correction. We have performed over 2,000 procedures on patients throughout the southeast.

bamagirl: Dr. Swan, have you had the procedure yourself?

Dr. Swan: No, I have naturally good vision, but I have performed the surgery on my wife four years ago. I have also performed laser vision correction on over a dozen of my employees and many local physicians, as well.

leaciem: What is your enhancement rate after LASIK?

Dr. Swan: It varies depending on the correction we're attempting, but generally between 5 and 10 percent.

Jackie: Dr. Swan, my son is extremely nearsighted but only 19 years old. Is he too young for the surgery?

Dr. Swan: Technically, he's not too young, but he's probably not stable. One of the most important parameters is stability of the refraction. In many young people, their prescriptions still change over time. The best way to assess stability is to do a thorough examination and repeat it in 6 - 12 months.

bamagirl: How would you describe the discomfort after the surgery?

Dr. Swan: After your anesthesia wears off, you generally have a teary, scratchy feeling that is similar to having a foreign body in your eye or "welder's burns." This resolves after about six hours and by the next morning, the discomfort is generally gone completely.

Vince Arnold: What is the maximum age on which you would do surgery on a person? Can you be too old?

Dr. Swan: No, you cannot be too old. The oldest patient we've treated was 82, correcting his astigmatism after cataract surgery.

Larry T: Dr. Swan, my eye sight prescription has remained stable for five years, this would be helpful, is that correct? I do not need bi-focals either and I am age 50.

Dr. Swan: Yes, stability for five years is a very good thing in surgical planning for laser vision correction surgery.

doodle: Dr. Swan, my daughter is 18 and is also extremely nearsighted with a -600 something would it be fisible for her to have the surgery and would it completely eliminate her need for glasses?

Dr. Swan: From a functional standpoint, -6.00 is extremely poor vision, but in the range of refractive errors we can treat it is middle of the road. Again, the real issue is stability at this young age.

Wendy: I've heard you can't have Lasik if you are nursing. Is this true?

Dr. Swan: Not absolutely true. The prescription can change while pregnant and nursing, but if you are stable compared to your pre-pregnancy prescription, it is possible to go ahead with the surgery. However, we generally recommend waiting six months after you finish nursing.

rayneal: What are the risks associated with the surgery?

Dr. Swan: Compared to other eye surgeries, the complications are minimal and fairly infrequent. However, the singlemost frequent complication is dry eyes. Less frequent problems that could occur include flap displacement and less likely, infection. Generally problems, if recognized in a timely fashion, can be successfully treated in almost all patients. Vision loss after LASIK is extremely rare.

rsseahorn: How quickly can you return to normal activities? Could both eyes be done at the same time, or would you not recommend this?

Dr. Swan: To answer your first question, we usually limit any physically strenuous activity for one week; no swimming, steam or sauna rooms for two weeks. Most people generally go to work the next day. To answer your second question, generally we do both eyes at the same time, but it is strictly a patient choice issue. We have found that performing LASIK on both eyes is the best option for most patients.

mward1216: Do large eyes prevent this type of surgery?

Dr. Swan: No - actually larger eyes are easier to do than smaller ones.

leaciem: Can I be blinded by the procedure?

Dr. Swan: There have been rare case reports of completely vision loss after LASIK, but none that I'm personally aware of. Your risks of significant vision loss is much greater from contact lens-related infections than from LASIK.

mmbama: Can a person who is farsighted and has astigmatism benefit from the surgery?

Dr. Swan: Yes, but the range of correction we can do for farsightedness is much narrower than for nearsightedness.

Dawn: How long does the procedure take?

Dr. Swan: The day of your procedure you're at the Laser Center for about an hour; the actual time in the laser room is about 30 minutes.

Jackie: I had the RK surgery nine years ago and had problems with "starburst" images at night. Does this happen with the lasik procedure?

Dr. Swan: Starbursts are generally a problem with incisions in the visual axis, such as that of RK. LASIK is much less likely to cause starbursts, although haloes are occasionally associated with the procedure in patients with large pupils. We carefully screen patients ahead of time and have new software available for patients with large pupils.

kgross: Dr. Swan, the military currently does not authorize certain types of laser surgery. Do you see this changing in the near future?

Dr. Swan: It depends on the branch of the military. A Navy pilot with LASIK-corrected vision landed on a carrier in April 2000. The commander of the carrier had his vision corrected the same day as the pilot by a Navy ophthalmologist. The Air Force allows LASIK for non-pilots and PRK for pilots. But military personnel should check the latest regulations that apply to their branch and occupation.

cj: Are headache and nausea a common side effect of this procedure?

Dr. Swan: These are not common side effects.

Dennis: I had RK in 1983. Is it safe to do LASIK after RK?

Dr. Swan: In some patients, yes it is. We would be happy to evaluate you at a free screening, but further testing might be necessary in your case.

MODERATOR: We are going to announce the winner of the free LASIK Surgery. Dr. Swan would you do the honors?

Dr. Swan: Yes. At this time we are happy to announce the winner of the free LASIK procedure. This person was randomly selected by computer at And the winner is... Jamey Hollingsworth. If Jamey is determined not to be a candidate for the procedure, we will randomly re-draw and contact the winner at that time. Congratulations, Jamey!

kellyjb72: How close to 20/20 can vision usually be corrected? I am nearsighted and have an astigmatism.

Dr. Swan: Many people achieve 20/20 or better vision. If you are extremely nearsighted or have a high astigmatism, your chance of needing an enhancement is greater.

donna: I entered just a few minutes ago can you tell me what the cost of the procedure...sorry if you already answered this

Dr. Swan: The procedure is $2,000 an eye; this fee includes all post-operative care (at least five visits) for up to one year, and any enhancements, if needed. There are many ways to finance this procedure, including cafeteria or flexible spending plans, and financing plans. Vision Fee Plan is an attractive financing plan that we offer that allows patients to have the procedure for as little as $90 with no money down; payments can be as low as $68.

MODERATOR: We would like to thank all of the chatters who made this an outstanding chat and to congratulate the winner of the Free LASIK procedure Jamey Hollingsworth. Dr. Swan do you have any final comments?

Dr. Swan: We would like to thank everyone for chatting with us tonight. If you are considering LASIK, please call our office at 271-3804 or e-mail our Coordinator at to set up a free screening. Our Laser Vision Team will educate you on your options, lifestyle needs and expected outcome. We have enjoyed the chat and hope that you have too.

MODERATOR: Again, Thanks to all and to all a Good Night.